Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The final projects are here!


These are the final multimedia projects done by the students in this class:

Team No. 1 put together a package on Old Town Fort Collins, and they chose to tell the story chronologically, personifying Old Town in a kind of Day-in-the-Life-of project. Team No. 1: Amy McHone, project manager; Kendall Storaci, Web designer; Micka King, multimedia reporter; and Lauren Karpiel, reporter/writer.

Team No. 2 focused its project on a local band, Roe, with an eye toward telling the story of how difficult it is to "make it" in a crowded music scene. Team No. 2: Ryan Breen, project manager; Leslie Stinson, Web designer; Rebecca Howard, multimedia reporter; and Mary Warren, reporter/writer.

Team No. 3 focused on World AIDS Day and told stories about the scourge from a local perspective. Team No. 3: Trevor Simonton, project manager; Rachel Timmons, Web designer; Katelyn Mahoney, multimedia reporter; and Angie Pittman, reporter/writer.

Team No. 4 tells about the difficulty of finding a sober ride in Fort Collins and of dealing with the problems created by drunken driving. Team No. 4: Shanna Pittman, project manager; Josh Arnold, Web designer; Joseph O'Malley, multimedia reporter; and Ashlee Omerigic, reporter/writer.

Enjoy and have a great semester break.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Colorado Independent slashes staff

In a move that's bound to raise a few eyebrows both in politics and in online media, the Center for Independent Media earlier this month cut staff positions at one of its flagship Web sites, the Colorado Independent.

More personally, it means that one of this class's guest speakers, Jason Kosena, is looking for full-time work, even after his excellent performance for the Independent, particularly his series about questionable spending at CSU by former president Larry Penley.

The question, from an online journalism perspective, arises from the timing of the cuts: are they related more to the struggling economy (the CIM and the Independent rely primarily on private funding, not advertising revenue) or to the end of the 2008 election?

The story linked above contains conflicting information from CIM brass and from Colorado Independent staff. The CIM claims poverty, but the Independent says the changes were planned before economic hard times hit the organization.

Either way, it's a bummer for Jason and the other hard-working journalists.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dec. 1 highlights

OK, when you return from your Thanksgiving break, your Competitive Analysis of Web sites is due to Eve.

Also, she will be awarding the third installment of the "Evies" -- her blog awards.

Have fun.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Michael Rosenblum talks about video for the Web

Here's a great series of three videos featuring Michael Rosenblum, the "Father of Video Journalism," speaking to Britain's Society of Editors earlier this month.

He makes some great points about video news on the Web, its place in traditional newspaper newsroom, and its ultimate superiority over traditional television journalism.

The Online Journalism Blog in which these videos are housed is also an interesting for other information, if you have time to browse.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Is Twitter a passing fad?

Poynter's Romanesko e-mailed this Advertising Age article as part of his daily update today, so here it is, at least one critical discussion of Twitter as a reporting tool, drawing upon the Rocky Mountain News' Twittered coverage of the funeral of a three-year-old boy.

The Rocky drew a ton of criticism from its readers for using the micro-blogging tool to "Twitter" details in short bursts.

Advertising Age also asks the central question about Twitter that haunts so many other online ventures: Will it ever make enough money to keep it afloat?

What do y'all think?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Class Schedule Weeks 10-15 and Finals

Standards, Law, and Ethics
Monday, Oct. 27
Class: “Online-only work versus Traditional Journalism”
Guest speaker, Jason Kosena, Colorado Independent
Introduction to second audio project: Online Audio News Package

Wednesday, Oct. 29
Class: “Radio News Packages versus Online Audio News Packages"
Guest Instructor, Mario Caballero, KCSU-FM and Student Media
Lab: Audio Script Writing/Natural Sound Gathering/Plan Package

Monday, Nov. 3
Class: Blog reviews and awards from Eve Fisher, Ph. D. candidate
Multiple-track editing on Audition demonstration by Jason Moses
Lab: Second audio project field work

Wednesday, Nov. 5
Class: “Legal and Ethical Issues Online”
Readings for class: "Diversity at Work: Rewriting the American Story" by Tom Huang
"RTNDA Survey: Women, Minorities Progress in TV Newsrooms" by Jill Geisler
"Legal and business advice for online publishers and bloggers" by Kim Pearson
Lab: Second audio project editing
Project is due before class Nov. 10, posted on or linked from blog site

Multi-media Reporting and Design
Monday, Nov. 10
Class: Introduction to in-depth cooperative “Multi-Media Reporting” and Planning Guide
Lab : Form teams and brainstorm assignment

Wednesday, Nov. 12
Class: Guest Instructor, Julia Sandidge: "In-Camera Editing”
Reading for class: Chapters 9, 10 and 11 from Briggs and "Multi-media Storytelling" by Jane Stevens

Monday, Nov. 17
Class: “Basic Online Design Principles and Search Engine Optimization” with Eve Fisher, Ph.D. candidate
Reading for class: TBA
Introduction to second Web site critique assignment

Wednesday, Nov. 19
Class: Finalize assignments for multi-media project, turn in formal outline
Readings for class: "Map Mashup Resources" by Jerry Monti
"Using Spreadsheet Data in Google Maps and Google Earth" by Jerry Monti
"Google Map Basics" by Jerry Monti

Monday, Dec. 1
Class: Newsroom (Your group must be ready to meet at 4 p.m.)
Second Web site critique due
Eve's final blog awards!!!

Wednesday, Dec. 3
Class: Newsroom (Your group must be ready to meet at 4 p.m.)

Monday, Dec. 8
Class: Newsroom (Your group must be ready to meet at 4 p.m.)

Wednesday, Dec. 10
Class: Drafts of all materials due to instructor/GTA (page designs, written, video, audio, graphics, etc.) at the beginning of the class (4 p.m.)
Discussion of progress

Each group must make appointment with GTA and/or instructor on between Dec. 11 and Dec. 15 to review work before it is posted to Web.

All Multi-Media projects must be posted to the Web BEFORE the beginning of the final exam period on Dec. 17 at 7 a.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 7 a.m.
Presentations of multi-media projects: Q&A
Evaluations of class, peers and self

Monday, October 13, 2008

Online Journalism Review is back

Hey, kids:

As you review for Wednesday's exam, there are dozens of useful articles at the Online Journalism Review, a site once hosted by the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California and now a project supported by the Knight Digital Media Center, which is housed at both USC and UC-Berkeley.

OJR suspended publication on June 16, 2008, but resumed Sept. 17, 2008. The current site has all of its archives.

Have fun researching.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Class Schedule Weeks 6-9

Reporting and Writing for Online Media
Monday, Sept. 29
Class: “Generating and Focusing Story Ideas”
Readings for Class: Chapters 4 and 6 of Briggs
Lab: Begin generating ideas for Reporting Assignment
Arrange carpools for Wednesday's road trip

Wednesday, Oct. 1
Class: Road Trip to Fort Collins Coloradoan, 1300 Riverside Avenue
Meet in the lobby of the Coloradoan

Monday, Oct. 6
Class: “Web Resources and Databases” discussion of readings
Readings for Class: "Wikipedia in the Newsroom" and "Citing Wikipedia" by Donna Shaw, American Journalism Review
"Open-Source Journalism: It's a Lot Tougher than You Think" by Anna Haynes, in
"Step-by-Step E-Mail Interviewing Tips" by Sandeep Junnarkar, Poynter Online
Lab: Finalize story ideas and assignments (includes traditional Web writing and photo storytelling)

Wednesday, Oct. 8
Class: “Photo Storytelling on the Web”
Readings for Class: Chapter 8 of Briggs
Sound Slide Shows from the San Jose Mercury
Shows from San Francisco State
Audio Slide Shows with Microsoft Photo Story
Soundslides Tutorial
And Another Tutorial
Or just flickr it with five photos:
Bike rescue mission
Cousins being cousins
Lab: Continue working on Reporting Assignment

Monday, Oct. 13
Class: “Online Writing Styles, Hooking and Keeping Readers” with Eve Fisher, Ph.D. candidate
Readings for Class: Writing style for print vs. Web and one other article of your choosing.
Lab: Review for Mid-Term Exam

Wednesday, Oct. 15
Class: Mid-term essay exam on blogs, citizen journalism, convergence, and online news reporting and writing

Monday, Oct. 20
Class: Work on all aspects of Reporting Project
Lab: Feedback and work on written and audio drafts, which are due at beginning of class

Wednesday, Oct. 22
Lab: Finish and post reporting projects on blog site

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Class Schedule Weeks 3-5

Convergence, Citizen Journalism and the Business of Online Journalism
Monday, Sept. 8
Class: Discussion of reading “State of the News Media: Online Journalism”

Lab: Review First Blog Entries and Revise (Peer Editing Exercise)

Wednesday, Sept. 10
Readings for Class: Chapters 3 and 7 of Briggs
Lab: Begin First Audio Lab Project “Classmate Interview with Photo”

Monday, Sept. 15
Class: “Citizen Journalism”
Readings for Class: “The 11 Layers of Citizen Journalism” by Steve Outing (even if it a bit outdated)
“A Most Useful Definition of Citizen Journalism” by Jay Rosen
Lab: Continue recording interviews and taking photos for audio project

Wednesday, Sept. 17
Class: “Convergence Continuum”
Readings for Class: “Convergence Defined” by Rich Gordon
Lab: Finish audio editing for audio project

Monday, Sept. 22
Class: “News War, Part III” video and discussion
Readings for Class: “Amateur Hour: Journalism Without Journalists” by Nicholas Lemann and

"Putting Newspapers on Trial" about the troubles at the L.A. Times and "monetizing the online product."
Lab: Photo and audio editing and of first audio project

Wednesday, Sept. 24
Class: “News War, Part III” video and discussion completed
Readings for Class: “Five Things All Sane People Agree on about Blogs and Mainstream Journalism” by Steve Berlin Johnson
Lab: View and discuss Lab Project “Classmate Interview”

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bring your recording devices

Be sure to bring your recording device to class on Wednesday, Sept. 10. Jason and I will introduce the first audio lab project in class, and it's more easily done if you have the proper equipment.

Need to be reminded about the proper equipment? The other part of your assignment for Wednesday is to read Chapter 7 from your e-textbook (along with Chapter 3). There are some ideas in there if you don't already own some way to record audio.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Here come the blogs!

Here are the class blogs for this semester. Check back early and often.

Josh Arnold keeps track of the Denver Broncos;
Ryan Breen blogs on sweet, sweet Bluegrass music;
Rebecca Howard blogs on the Colorado music scene;
Lauren Karpiel updates us on the state's snowboarding scene;
Micka King wants us to stay current on indie and alternative music;
Katelyn Mahoney, California girl, left her heart and her blog in San Francisco;
Amy McHone is more than a movie fan, she's a movie blogger;
Joseph O'Malley keeps tabs on Sarah Palin for us;
Ashlee Omerigic lets us know how we can help our four-legged friends;
Angie Pittman is all over CSU football;
Shanna Pittman mines for some interesting nuggets;
Trevor Simonton writes about Colorado politics;
Leslie Stinson is a Mac geek, but that's a good thing;
Kendall Storaci blogs about great sportswriting, and does a little herself;
Rachel Timmons watches "The Office" so you don't have to; and
Mary Warren is our coffee shop queen.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Class Schedule Weeks 1-3

Introduction to Class and Blogging
Monday, Aug. 25
Course Introduction
Why Online Journalism is Different and Why You Should Care (PP)

Wednesday, Aug. 27
Before Class: Read Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2 from Briggs
Journalistic Blogging (PP)

Lab: Exercises from Chapters 1 and 2

Wednesday, Sept. 3
Before Class: Read Chapter 5: How to Blog
Prepare Blog Beat Coverage Plan
Lab: Set up and Begin Blogging

Convergence, Citizen Journalism and the Business of Online Journalism
Monday, Sept. 8
Class: Lecture and Discussion of reading “State of the News Media: Online Journalism”
Review First Blog Entries and Revise

Wednesday, Sept. 10
Readings for Class: Chapters 3 and 7 of Briggs
Lab: Begin First Audio Lab Project “Classmate Interview with Photo”

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fall 2008 Class Syllabus

Online Writing and Journalism
JTC326 Fall 2008


Jeff Browne

Office: Clark C258
Monday 3 to 4 p.m.
Wednesday 9 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m.

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Eve Fisher

About this course
You will become better researchers, writers and editors in an online world, no matter the discipline, be it public relations or news reporting. The course and its related assignments will help you write clearly, concisely, conversationally and creatively for the World Wide Web.

The focus is on quality reporting, writing and editing, not computer skills. You will be introduced to audio news production and editing, and basic video and photographic storytelling as a means of preparing for the multi-platform newsrooms and PR shops where you likely will be employed.Original reporting and writing are required for this class.

You can do well in this class even if you, at the beginning of the course, know nothing about Web design. Online Web packages generally are produced by teams comprised of people with many different skills.By the end of the semester, you'll have a better understanding of the challenges facing both online and traditional journalism today, mostly because:
· You'll have created your own twice-weekly news blog;
· You’ll have learned the basics of audio news production;
· You'll have published original journalistic stories for the Web;
· You'll have read about and discussed the changing face of journalism and the role that online media have had in that change; and
· You'll have produced one multi-media package as part of a team.

In short, you'll leave this class not only with the skills considered vital in today's communication fields, but also a critical understanding of how communicators in the converging new media can best serve society.ObjectivesStudents who complete this course should be able to:
· Tell interesting stories and convey factual information more effectively over the Internet, both through words and through digital technology;
· Write in a style appropriate for online media, in blogs, in online-only stories, and in multi-media news or public relations packages;
· Search efficiently for credible information, documents and statistics on the Internet;
· Think critically about issues involving online journalism;
· Work with a team that plans, designs and creates a news site on the Web; and
· Work in a newsroom setting, complete with a commitment to accuracy, fairness, diversity, creativity and meeting deadlines.


Please bring to every class a recent version of The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual. All other printed materials will be provided to you via copy or through links on this site.

The textbook for this class is “Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive” by Mark Briggs. The book is available for FREE online at several links, including this one:

Please download the book, and if necessary, print it and place it in a binder. You will be responsible for keeping either a digital copy, a hard copy or both.

If you own an audio recording device (some cameras and cell phones, and almost all new laptops have this capability), you will find it useful in completing some assignments. Bring headphones and a digital camera, too, if you own one, as assignments will be easier to complete with a variety of digital recording devices. If you own none of these, you may check out equipment from the journalism department.

The Work
Twice-Weekly Blog Posts (140 points or 17.5 percent of final grade)
Beginning with the lab for the Sept. 3 class, you will be required to set up and maintain your own news blog for the duration of the course. Your blog must have a specific focus, and it must update your readers regarding breaking news on that subject. It does not have to contain original reporting, but you may choose to do so. All information gleaned from other sources must be attributed to that source.

Each post must link to and comment on at least one pertinent and recent Web page, Web site, or specific blog post by another author. Posts don't need to be long (in fact, they'll be better if they aren't), and they must make a point.

You will post twice every week (but not Thanksgiving week, if you choose not to) for a total of 28 blogs for the semester.

Word Press and Blogspot are the most popular means of creating a blog.Blogs will be graded on content, mechanics, and the quality and relevance of the links. I will be writing a blog along with you, and you can check
Browne Knows for examples.

Beginning in October, you will be asked to include a few multimedia elements to your written blog in occasional posts.

Lab Projects (100 points or 12.5 percent of final grade)
You will complete two simple lab projects that will allow you to practice reporting and interviewing skills as well as brush up on or learn new technology, specifically photo and audio editing skills.

The first of these is an interview of a partner which will culminate in a photo/audio package introducing the world to that person. The second will be an audio news package that combines the best of traditional radio and online audio news practices.

Reporting Project (100 points or 12.5 percent of final grade)
You will write and produce a story – told in at least three ways – during the middle portion of the class. I will provide more details on this assignment as it approaches.

Web site critiques (100 points or 12.5 percent of your final grade)
You will critique news sites for both content and design considerations. One critique will focus on comprehensive news sites, the second will focus on special multi-media packages.

Mid-term exam (100 points or 12.5 percent of your final grade)
You will distill information from lectures, articles and readings in order to determine if you understand the key concepts of online news and journalism.

Attendance and Participation (60 points or 7.5 percent of your final grade)
Regular attendance and active participation is expected – this includes contributing comments and questions, respecting the views of others, offering constructive critiques of other students' work, and sharing skills and knowledge with peers.

Unexcused absences will negatively affect your final grade. Excused absences involve documented personal or family illness. You are responsible for any missed material.

Also, if you miss a graded exercise or quiz, a zero will be recorded.

Multi-Media News Project (200 points or 25 percent of your final grade)
This is the class' culminating activity, and it will combine the varied skills of students working in a team that will create a multi-media news site about an issue in the Fort Collins and/or CSU community.


Late assignments will not be accepted. Period. If an illness or personal emergency prevents you from completing an assignment on time, advanced notice and written documentation are required.

Odds and Ends
You need a USB Jump Drive or other portable storage unit of at least 2 GB for this class. Bring it with you every day. Keep backup copies of all your work on it, even work that you have already published online.

Please turn off your cell phones in class unless you’re using it as part of an assignment to take a photograph or make a recording.

Check your e-mail and
this blog regularly. I communicate electronically with the class at times.

You may not "double-dip," or use the reporting, writing or design work in this class for another class, or vice versa, unless cleared with me and the other instructor in advance.

You are encouraged to have your work published in traditional media (such as KCSU-FM, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, College Avenue or The Fort Collins Coloradoan) or on professional Web sites in addition to publishing work for this class. If you can get a piece published for a professional medium, you will earn extra credit.

Cheating in any way (plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, falsification, cheating on a test) will result in an F for the course, and may result in further ramifications. CSU's policy on academic integrity is stated in the general catalog.
Beware of violating copyright laws and the
No Electronic Theft Act, which allows you to link to other documents, but you may not use information from other sites in your own pieces without crediting the sources, just as you would in print pieces. You also may not grab graphics and photos from other sites without prior approval. Check the copyright policies when you take graphics from sites that offer free materials.


Grades will be assigned on a point basis for each assignment or quiz, then averaged over the course of the semester: 60-69=D; 70-79=C; 80-89=B; 90-100=A. I will assign plusses and minuses, e.g., 60-62-D-minus; 67-69=D-plus.Course


What follows is a general schedule for the course. Please subscribe to this blog or just check in regularly for specific assignments, deadlines, etc. These are not line-in-the-sand dates regarding content for discussion, as we will re-visit previously introduced topics throughout the course.

Aug. 25 through Sept. 3 (Weeks 1 and 2)
Online Journalism and Blogging
Blogging begins

Sept. 8 through Sept. 24 (Weeks 3 through 5)

Convergence, Citizen Journalism, and the Business of Online Journalism
Basic Audio Recording and Editing Lab Project: Class Interviews

Sept. 29 through Oct. 22 (Weeks 6 through 9)

Reporting and Writing for Online Media
Reporting Project
Mid-term exam

Oct. 27 through Nov. 5 (Weeks 10 and 11)

Standards, Law and Ethics for Online Media
Second Audio Lab Project (Online News Package)

Nov. 10 through Dec. 10 (Weeks 13 through 15)

Multi-media Reporting and Presentation
Website Critique #1 (Comprehensive news sites)

Multi-Media Reporting Project
Website Critique #2 (Multi-media packages)
Newsroom Lab

Dec. 17 (Wednesday)

Final Exam Period (7 a.m. to 9 a.m.)

Evaluations and presentation of multi-media project

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Welcome to JTC326 Fall 2008

Welcome to JTC326 (it used to be JT326, hence the URL discrepancy). Hope you like the Web cam video. Jeff

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Additional Resources for "News War" video

Here are a few additional links (discussions, articles, etc.) that address the issues brought forth in the Frontline piece "News War: What's Happening to the News?"

Discussion with producer Stephen Talbot

Watch the entire series online

Additional interviews

Nonprofit journalism: Removing the Pressure of the Bottom Line

Hyper-local nerd Rob Curley

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Audio Interview Tips

From National Public Radio:

Audio Recording Interview Tips

Technical Tips

* Get comfortable with the equipment
Play around with the recording device on your own until you are very familiar with all the buttons and knobs. It's important to do this before you begin; if you're relaxed with the recorder and the microphone, the people you're interviewing will be too.

* Do a test
Always do a test before you begin. Record a few seconds, then play it back to make sure the sound is good.

* Keep the microphone close
The most important thing of all: keep the microphone close to the sound source (your mouth or the mouth of the person you're interviewing). About 5-6 inches is good, the length of your outstretched hand. If it's any farther away you will still be able to hear what people say, but the recording will lose its power and intimacy. It's also best to keep the microphone a little bit below the mouth to avoid the "popping P" sound.

* Collect good sounds (for story packages)
Every time you record, collect all the specific sounds you can think of: dogs barking, doors slamming, the radio being turned on, the sound of your blender, or even your mom snoring. Be creative. You will use these sounds later when you produce the story.

* Record everything
Long pauses are okay. Umms are okay. Saying stupid and embarrassing things is okay. Often the stuff you think is weird, worthless, or that you initially want to edit out, will end up being the best and most surprising parts of the story.

Interview Tips

A good interview depends on more than just a list of questions.

* Make your approach polite and respectful
Explain what you're doing. Be confident. Assume your subject will want to talk to you. The way people respond depends on how you approach them. The trick is to make people realize that your project is both fun and important. Also let people know that everything can and will be edited.

* Make the interview situation comfortable before you start
Move chairs around, get close so you don't have to reach. For example: sit at the corner of a table, not across, so you can hold the microphone close and your arm won't grow weak.

* Record interviews in the quietest place possible
Be careful of TVs, stereos, traffic noise, wind, anything that will be distracting from the interview. Even refrigerators can make an annoying sound that you might not notice until you get home and listen to the tape. Sometimes you want the sound of the environment. But it's best to gather that separately, and record all the important interviews in a quiet place. Anytime you are in a loud room or noisy environment, remember to collect a few minutes of that sound on its own ‹ what is called a "sound bed" or ambiance. If you have to record an interview in a loud place, it can help to bring the microphone even closer (2-3 inches) to the speaker's mouth.

* Keep the microphone close
It bears repeating here: just as when you are recording yourself, the most important thing is to keep the microphone close to the speaker's mouth (5-6 inches). If you want to record your questions too, you'll have to move the microphone back and forth.

* Always hold the microphone
Don't let the interviewee take the microphone. It's better if you keep control of the equipment.

* Put people at ease
Talk about the weather. Joke about the microphone. It's a good idea to begin recording a few minutes before you actually start the interview. That helps you avoid the uncomfortably dramatic moment: "Okay, now we will begin recording." Just chat about anything while you begin rolling tape. Before they realize it, you've started the interview.

* Maintain eye contact
Keep the microphone below the line of sight. Talk to people just as you would normally. In groups, don't let everyone talk at once If you are interviewing a few people at once, have them gather around close to the microphone.

* Try to focus on one or two people
Less is more. You're better off zeroing in on the characters you think are the best. Also get people to identify themselves on tape.

* Watch out for uh-huhs
Be aware of natural conversational responses like uh-huhs or laughter. Try to use quiet responses: a concerned nod, questioning eyes, the silent laugh.

* Don't be afraid of pauses and silences
Resist the temptation to jump in. Let the person think. Often the best comments come after a short, uncomfortable silence when the person you are interviewing feels the need to fill the void and add something better.

* Let people talk in full sentences
Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Instead of, "Are you a doctor?" ask, "Tell me how you became a doctor." Remember that you want people to tell you stories.

* Get people to 'do' things
In addition to the sit-down interview, have people show you around; record a tour of their house, their photo album or their car engine. It's more fun to get people moving around and talking about what they're doing, rather than just sitting in a chair. It helps to relax people before and during an interview. It's also a way to get good tape.

* Listening is the key
A good interview is like a conversation. Prepare questions, but don't just follow a list. The most important thing is to listen and have your questions come naturally. If your questions are rehearsed and hollow, the answers will be too. If you are curious and your questions are spontaneous and honest, you will get a good interview.

* Interviewing is a two-way street
Conducting a good interview depends, in part, on asking the right questions. But it is also important to establish a relationship with the person you are interviewing. Sometimes it is appropriate to share some information about yourself in an interview. Remember that it's a conversation. What's more, for it to be an honest conversation, people must feel that you care about what they say, and will honor and respect their words and stories.

* The foolproof question
Here is one simple question that always works: "How do you see things differently since (blank) happened?" If you're talking to your mailman about the time he was chased for 2 blocks by a neighborhood dog, ask how he feels every time he goes by that house.

* Take notes
Remember specific details. Take notes immediately after the interview, while it's still fresh in your mind. You can also use the tape recorder like a dictating machine.

* Relax and forget about the microphone
One thing that's always amazing: in the beginning of an interview people are usually stiff and self-conscious, but after a while, they forget all about the tape recorder and start to be themselves.

* The last secret to a great interview
There is one simple rule for getting people to talk openly and honestly: you have to be genuinely curious about the world around you.