Lessons on Interviewing from War Reporter Alex Quade

A freelance war reporter, Alex Quade covers countries at their most dangerous. To tell the stories of war from a soldier’s perspective, she goes where they go, sees what they see. Yet, she says, she is not overwhelmed with fear overseas.

“I was never scared because I’m so focused on my job and getting what I need to: the interviews, the details,” Quade said.

Her focus is solely capturing interviews that grasp at the realities of war today. While talking to a University of Washington communication class, Quade stressed a few key points about interviewing in the center of chaos.

  1. The reporter should carry no preconceived notion of what he or she want or “need” to hear during an interview. No one wants to divulge information to a reporter with a closed, narrow mind. Instead, the journalist should be open to the paths of stories or information the subject may incidentally lead you down.
  2.  Focus on the person. Reporters do not have superpowers. Capturing the perfect video, sound and answers may not be plausible. The most important element is the answers. Establish a relationship, Quade said, a rapport. Viewers at home would rather an interview have depth, emotion and significance, than watch a soldier speak from the perfect angle with the best lighting.
  3. Finally, Quade drilled the fact that reputations of reporters get around.  Inappropriately fitting an individual’s quotes into the storyline you need is only closing doors on yourself in this career.

Integrity and objectivity are essential to a good reporter, no matter if they are interviewing in the United States or Afghanistan.