Five minutes into the Today Show this morning, the substitute co-host provided a stunning example of how not to interview a victim.
Karen Hernandez had just lost her home and virtually everything she had in the California mudslides. The Today host began a live interview, and at first Karen appeared OK. Then she suddenly fell apart.
The co-host ignored it. She proceeded with the next
question on her list.
Don't ever do that.
In this special video installment of my Advice for Journalists series, I show the Today clip, and discuss what went wrong, and how the host could have
More in the series. See the great Dart Center's site for many more resources for journalism with a conscience. (Dart is now part of the Columbia Graduate Journalism School, and I'm a fellow there. They do great work.)
Please do not use this as an opportunity to trash the show, or the host. I have seen her many times, and she
does a fine job. But it's a valuable learning opportunity.
frequently get questions from young journalists and students about how
to interview victims humanely. I laid out some ideas in the posts linked
above, but there is nothing like a real life example, to illustrate how
quickly an interview can go off the rails.
I will add additional commentary later, but I'm packing up to fly to Chicago in the morning to visit my family. I wanted to get something up while it was timely.