How not to conduct an interview
As a part of working with CAM I’ve needed to find some new skills. A few of those skills are:
- keeping your banner from drooping in the middle when at a protest march.
- writing to politicians, demanding action on the greatest moral challenge of our time, without swearing.
- knocking on a complete stranger’s door and asking them to help close a power station.
But the most recent skill that I’ve acquired, in order to bring you all the best local climate news, is how to conduct an interview. And my first interview ever was with long-serving member for Brunswick Carlo Carli.
First rule of journalism, be prepared
After playing email tag for a couple of weeks it was proving difficult to find a mutual alignment of our diaries. Thinking I’d have better luck arranging a date and time using the powers of speech rather than type, I decided to ring Carlo’s office.
I was expecting Carlo either not be there or to be unavailable to take a call. So was somewhat surprised when I got straight through. Carlo kindly suggested that we do the interview over the phone. Diary at the ready I was also surprised when Carlo suggested we just do it now. “Yes, thanks – that’ll be great” was my reply – but in my head I was thinking What – now! C**p, I’m completely unprepared.
Nevertheless I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to ask the long-standing member for Brunswick his thoughts on the election-shaping issue of Hazelwood. So I ask my first question “What are your views on Hazelwood” and attempt to jot down everything Carlo is saying in short-hand as fast as I can.
It’s around this time that I remember I never did that TAFE course in journalism and have no short-hand skills. I decide that my scribbles are a complete waste of time and reach for my bag to get my recorder. As I do so I knock my glass of water sending it on the edge of toppling over my desk. My cat-like reactions pounce into action, saving the glass of water, the interview and my keyboard.
C**p, c**p, c**p is what I’m screaming in my head. “Hmmmm, really!” is what I smoothly say to Carlo who I’m hoping is completely unaware of the narrowly averted disaster.
Clark Kent, eat your heart out
Now that my keyboard is safe from the impending tsunami, I’m free to juggle the phone in one hand, lean awkwardly back in my chair and blindly search in the bag for the recorder with my other hand. All of the time calmly saying to Carlo “Sure, sure”.
Internal thoughts Found it! Thank f**k for that. Externally I say “Why do you want to see Hazlewood shut down?” And as I quietly turn the recorder on and gently place it near my mouth I think to myself What am I doing, I don’t need to record me! and clumsily slip it between the phone and my ear.
Next question “So when would you see it likely to close then?” Carlo replies “When can you close it?” Internal thoughts: Yes – first question and answer being fully recorded for a future article – success.
By the end of the interview I find that within caucus there is “a core group of very strong proponents of a planned phase out”. Although it “might not be by 2012” as Environment Victoria’s report suggests, and “has to be [in] a realistic period”.
I also find that Carlo feels “a phase-out of Hazelwood in a reasonable period of time is really important for the Labor party’s credentials” and that it’s “outrageous” to have so much of Victoria’s power generators in international hands.
There is also the dual problems of Federal inaction and an unbalanced energy portfolio. “If we had a genuine carbon price we would see the market move. And not having that means, we only have a limited number of tools. You price it, you regulate it or you provide subsides and incentives” and “essentially all our electricity, all our base-load electricity is coal. I mean, clearly we have to diversify that”.
Interview over it’s time to check-out that TAFE short-course in journalism.