Monday, October 15, 2007

Bad Journalism

I have always been an armchair critic of journalists, especially non-print ones. You know, the ones who ask athletes after they win a championship, "How does it feel to win this?" As if we don't already know the answer to questions like these, or almost all of the questions they ask, for that matter.

The best interviewer in sports journalism, Jim Gray, was pilloried in the press for daring to ask Pete Rose some pointed questions during the All-Star game. I think it's because we're not used to people asking good questions. Generally, I believe that non-print journalists get their jobs because they look or sound good, not because they have any talent at writing, speaking or thinking.

Case in point: This idiot at NPR named Luke Burbank. He posted an interview he did with the Icelandic band Sigur Ros, in which we get to see, in under six minutes, a man slowly die due to a lack of cooperation in his interview subjects. It truly is squirm-inducing to see how terribly this interview goes. Burbank blames the band, but it's entirely Burbank's fault.

I don't know what journalism school Burbank went to, but he must have skipped school the day they taught about open questions. You know, the kind that can't be answered with a yes or a no? I counted the number of questions he asked in the interview, then categorized them.

Number of questions asked: 17

yes/no questions: 12

Number of non-yes/no questions that simply asked an either/or question, not an open question: 3

Total number of questions that could be considered truly open questions: 2

See bad journalism at work here.


Moe said...

That was painful. I turned if off with over 2 minutes to go it was so awful.

Karyn said...

I think that interviewer was ill-prepared to handle difficult people. That band was very difficult to interview. I wouldn't put all the blame on the interviewer.

Jake D said...

I pushed thru the pain and watched the whole thing! This interview really took me back to the KSFC 91.9fm days at Spokane Falls. I was in the Radio Broadcasting program. Sorry, Karyn... but I have to agree with Eric. The host controls the interview. The success of the interview is the responsibility of the host. The band might have been "boring" but those questions were HORRIBLE. Even a guest that is non-responsive can be entertaining to the listener if the host is on his game.