This course discusses suicide and contains headlines and images from news reports on suicide that can be disturbing. If you or someone you know is suicidal please know help is available. Contact your physician, your local hospital emergency room or a suicide prevention hotline or text line, as shown on the screen. These helplines can provide free and confidential support 24/7. [MUSIC] >> Welcome back, my name is Aneri Pattani, and in this lesson we're going to talk about applying responsible reporting guidelines to interviewing. Interviewing is my favorite part of journalism, getting to talk to different kinds of people and learn about their lives, is what makes every story unique. But it's also a part of journalism that requires a lot of care and sensitivity, because what you say and how you say it directly impacts the other person. For this lesson, we'll first discuss who you might want to interview for suicide stories, and then we'll walk through how to interview someone about a sensitive topic like suicide. Many stories can and should include a so called expert voice on suicide. This person is someone unrelated to the specific death, memorial or other event you're reporting on. They are often researchers or clinicians, they can provide context on suicide as a public health issue, share up-to-date statistics, dispel myths and help you convey important facts to the public. The organizations on the screen are just a few that are dedicated to helping the media cover suicide responsibly, and they can help connect you to expert sources, even on deadline. In addition to experts, most stories include people with lived experience, someone who has had suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide themselves, or someone who lost a loved one to suicide. As journalists, we tend to pick sources with the most tragic stories, because we think that will get the strongest reaction from our audience. But as we discussed in the story framing section, that paints a bleak, hopeless picture and one that's not accurate. For a more realistic portrayal of the issue, we might pick a source who attempted suicide in the past but survived and has since found ways to cope. Or someone who is currently struggling with suicidal ideation, but is still living day to day life and striving to feel better. The sources we choose don't need to be completely happy or completely tragic, reality and responsible reporting practice is in the middle gray area. Once you figured out who you're going to interview, you get to the how. When I was just starting out, I thought interviews would be the most powerful if people cried or got super emotional, but I've learned that's not always true. And more importantly, trying to provoke emotion in someone who's been through a trauma can be really harmful to them. These interviews need to be handled with care. So let's walk through some steps on how to do that. Establish necessity, first, ask yourself, is this interview necessary for the story? I used to think I needed someone with a personal story for every article I wrote, to tug at the reader's heartstrings. But I've come to realize that shocking statistics or research or simply strong writing can be powerful too. So each time you think you need a source with lived experience, ask yourself, what do you hope to achieve from interviewing them? How will it alter your story? No matter how careful you are, these interviews always carry the risk of retraumatizing someone who's been through a really difficult time. So be sure, you know why you're asking them to take that risk. Second, when you ask for the interview, clearly identify yourself as a journalist and name the outlet you work for. Explain the basics of your story, will it be video, audio, or text? Is it a breaking news story, a feature, or an investigation? Will the audience be local or national? Don't expect that the person you're speaking to understands how the journalistic process works. Let them know that after the story publishes, they might be contacted by other news outlets or other bereaved families. They should be fully informed before making a decision to speak with you. I know some journalists worry that this will scare people away, but I found people actually thanked me for taking the time to lay this out for them. And that helps build trust. Also remember, if you're trying to interview a minor, it's a good idea to have this conversation both with them, and their guardians or an adult they trust. Once a source has said yes to the interview, find an appropriate time and place to conduct it. If it's a breaking news story, you may not have this luxury. But as best you can try to find a place that's calm and private enough that they feel comfortable and safe opening up, maybe their house or a place of worship. I've used conference rooms at local libraries before. Pick a time where neither of you will be rushed since these conversations can sometimes take longer than expected. Also be prepared to do more than one interview. Sometimes the conversations are taxing and it can be better for you and the source to break it up into several smaller conversations. At the start of the interview, be clear about what on the record, on background and off the record means. I can tell you from experience that a lot of people don't know. Some people might also assume that what they tell you won't be published or that they'll be allowed to review the story before it publishes. So let them know how you'll handle these situations upfront, without waiting for them to ask. During the interview, be sure to give your source a sense of control. This can be really important for people who have been through traumas where they feel helpless. Inform them that they only have to answer questions they want to respond to and that they can take a break or end the interview at any time they want. Also try to ask open ended questions that allow them to share however much they are comfortable with. So instead of something like I know you were the one who found your brother's body, what was that like? Try instead something like, can you tell me how you learned about your brother's death? Also be patient throughout the conversation. The person you're interviewing may take longer to process questions or fully understand their meaning. They might become upset or cry during the interview. If that happens, stay calm and give them time to recover, ask if there's anything you can get them and if they'd like to stop the interview. Whether they say yes or no respect their answer and keep in mind that not everyone will appreciate a hug or physical touch even if you mean well. Towards the end of the interview, be sure to ask questions about the source's resilience. You don't want to leave them in the depths of recounting trauma. Instead ask how they were able to overcome this event. Why they're choosing to tell their story now? How they hope it will help others? Or what lessons they want to share with others in similar situations? Questions like that can bring people out of the dark memory they shared and into a space of safety in the present. Finally, verify the information you gather during the interview, traumatic events, impact memory and the sudden loss of a loved one can make it difficult for people to recall certain facts. You may want to cross-check the information the source provides you with other individuals or documents you have. You can also circle back with the source another day or in writing to confirm dates, times, and other details. I usually like to let people know that fact checking is a standard part of the journalism process and it doesn't mean I doubt anything they've said. I just tell them that I have to do this with every interview. At the end of the day, interviewing someone who has lived experience with suicide comes down to forging a human connection. Remember, although you might want to get a great quote out of your source, you're a human being first and a journalist second. You can show that in little ways like sending a thank you text or email after an interview, because it is a privilege to have someone trust you with their story. [MUSIC] >> This course discusses suicide and contains headlines and images from news reports on suicide that can be disturbing. If you or someone you know is suicidal, please know help is available. Contact your physician, your local hospital emergency room, or a suicide prevention hotline or text line as shown on the screen. These helplines can provide free and confidential support 24/7.