It's a subject I've covered before on this blog, but Tony Benn has written an incredibly perceptive article in the Guardian Media Section this morning on the art of political interviewing. You can read the article HERE. He rails against the aggressive interviewing tendences of Messers Paxman, Humphrys, Snow and Robinson...
"I disagree with that approach - I strongly believe that a belligerent manner inhibits the person interviewed. Feeling under siege, they struggle to get their case across, retreating to the safety of repeating the same things time and again or entering the fight in the hope he or she may emerge the victor - which is rarely the case."
I'm hopefully about to embark on a new career which will test my skills as an interviewer, so I read Tony Benn's words with a more than passing interest. Whenever I have done interviewing in the past I must admit I have found it a challenge - and completely exhausting. At first I tended to over-prepare, but I found that if I wrote pre-prepared questions down I'd ask them rather than let the conversation develop. I soon changed my approach!
I agree with Benn that you get far more out of people by being civil and polite and actually allowing them to answer the question. But John Snow and Nick Robinson correctly point out that in today's television there just isn't the time to do that. Snow even says that if you can't say it in 30 seconds it isn't worth saying.
Tony Benn's article was written to publicise his Channel 4 documentary this Saturday at 7pm called Interviewing the Interviewers.