June 23, 2005

TIME OUT: Questions?

I've discovered another way journalism helps me outside the newsroom.

As a member of my college's diversity initiative, I'm on the selection committee hearing presentations by diversity consultant firms. Sitting through hours of presentations, I realized how journalism prepared me to ask questions -- real questions.

"Since you said the initiative may to take 3 - 10 years, what specific steps will you take to reach students currently enrolled in two-year programs?"

"Aside from targeting students on campus from 9 a.m. - 2 - p.m, how will you reach students in evening and weekend classes, attending our off-campus sites, and distance learners?"

Restating source-provided information in the question offers him or her a chance to clarify, provide a better understanding and -- answer the question.

People, which most journalists are, like to believe they ask good questions, but they don't. It takes skill and an understanding of human behavior. Some ask questions for many reasons having little to do with the search for knowledge including to show their cleverness, to make statements, to be adversarial or to show favor.

When a reporter repeatedly says he or she didn't get good quotes from the source, ask to hear the questions. Before the reporter heads out to the interview

Any questions?