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First, click on the images in the photo box to the right to see pictures that Adam Housley e-mailed from Thailand. (The Internet is amazing, isn't it? In the "old days" you would have to wait weeks to get these and with the Internet and satellites and cable, we can put you there at once!)
I have discovered something new — YOU! In Thursday's blog I told you how I am at a loss for words when I have to interview a parent who has lost a child. I never know how to start the interview since, "how are you?" seems like a stupid thing to ask — we know how they are ... they are suffering immensely. So I asked for advice from YOU and got tons of tips! Each tip was immensely helpful and very smart! I read every tip — I responded to some of you — and I have just grabbed a few of them (see below) and posted them. Now that I have realized my huge resource — YOU — I am going to use it often. You would think by now that maybe I don't need help or advice, but you are so wrong — I can always use good advice. Much of the advice below is good common sense and who doesn't need more of that?
And while I am on the topic of seeking advice, how about this problem? Thursday night I had a tsunami survivor on the air who is a professor from Illinois. He told the most hair-raising story of what he saw. I said hello, started him on his story and let him talk straight through the entire segment without one question. I was so riveted to his story that I did not say a word. One problem: As exciting and terrifying as his story was, at some point we came to the end of the time allotted for the segment. I had two things confronting me: 1) a commercial break and 2) another segment before the show ended and I needed to make sure that guest got some time, too. That guest, by the way, did get "short sheeted" because I did run long with the professor and it had to be taken from that final guest since the clock was winding down.
So what happened? I had to interrupt the professor and take us to break. It is annoying to the viewers. And guess what? It is annoying to me since, like you, I want to hear what he has to say! Any ideas? (As an aside ... I love the help, thanks!)
E-mail No. 1
Greta, I used to be a small town TV reporter and I know those interviews are difficult. Perhaps you could start off with, "Mr. or Ms. So and So, I know this is a very difficult time for you. Thank you for speaking with us." And then, do your questions.
For what its worth,
Kathy in AL
E-mail No. 2
My name is Jack Hammontree and I lost my son at the University of Oklahoma on September 30th. He died during a fraternity initiation party. I know this isn't the same situation as the parents who have a missing child, but the media has often handled our tragedy poorly. I would simply recommend telling a parent "we just want to help." Just ask them, "What can we do to assist you or help during this terrible ordeal?"
E-mail No. 3
The answer for starting an interview with distressed parents is in your question. You wrote that “there is significant value to the family to get the word out to try and help find this child,” and that is how you put the parents at ease and start your interview. Begin with your value proposition: “We want to help you get the word out to try and help find this child.” That puts the parents at ease that you are trying to help them and takes the focus off their grief (for the moment) and onto best answering your questions. They are already stressed enough without the pressure of wondering what the “real” purpose of your interview will be. Then you can easily “just jump into the interview” with your questions.
E-mail No. 4
I'm an ER nurse who has had the unfortunate job of taking to families of severely injured or deceased patients. If the patient is injured, I
usually start with, "I know that you are hurting now and in shock
over what happened, but I need to ask you some questions." This gives them the idea that you feel for them and their situation. Hope this helps. I watch you daily and read the blog as well. Keep up the good
E-mail No. 5
What if you started by asking, "Tell me about your son/daughter" maybe this way you can get a feel for how they want to proceed with the interview or use this as a way to let them start the interview. Just a thought.
E-mail No. 6
My wife and I do pastoral ministry in our church and we often have to talk to people in distress. I have two guidelines I follow:
1. We can never understand what they're going through.
2. It's best to be simple, brief and direct.
So, something like, "Mr. Walker, none of us will ever know what you're going through right now, but we really appreciate you being here with us. May I ask you what's the latest on your situation?"
I love your show.
E-mail No. 7
I am responding to your request for advice on how to begin an interview with grieving family members, i.e. Dan Walker.
I have found that people appreciate honesty and if you were to start your interview exactly as you had described your feelings in Gretawire, nothing could be better.
Simply say, "To do an interview with you tears me apart inside because I know how much pain you are in, yet, I want to try to help you in as many ways as I can. I thank you for coming on the show in order to help us help you".
People really appreciate honesty when others speak of their feelings rather than wondering if you have any feelings toward them at all.
I hope this helps, Greta. I LOVE the show and rarely ever miss it. Keep up the wonderful work.
E-mail No. 8
Where are the positive stories about our aid? Why don't you attack the "other" media about the negative reporting of the U.S. press? I'm a Vietnam/retired Army vet who is tired of PC questions of/about an issue and not getting to the point!
ANSWER: Jerry: Are you watching our show?! Every night we talk about the amazing relief provided by the United States. We have had our military leaders call in from the region telling of the GREAT, GREAT, GREAT work of our military in providing relief. We have had generals, admirals and many others ... please WATCH!
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