Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

More on ‘man-on-the-street’ interviews: people as experts

September 21, 2011

Share this article:

This reporter on the streets of Olinda, Brazil, was photographed by Flickr user Prefeitura de Olinda.

Janet Cho of the Cleveland Plain Dealer emailed me another tip after reading yesterday’s post about getting better responses from man-on-the-street interviews.

Today’s Tip: “Treat the people you’re talking to as the ‘real’ experts and have them respond to or comment on the news of the day,” Janet says.

Janet Cho, reporter, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Janet Cho

For a story that ran this summer, Janet says she stood on the sidewalk outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Great Lakes Science Center to ask people about the latest unemployment data. Her story offers personal stories from tourists and Clevelanders, including a former auto worker now selling hot dogs. She writes:

“People on the streets of Cleveland Friday say they are impatient with bullish economists and bickering politicians who don’t seem to realize how little the economy has improved. They waved away questions about higher debt ceilings and an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, because many of them wanted to vent about how much the economy stinks.”

Just this weekend, I saw a pair of shoes that reminded me of the day I spent walking around Independence Hall after a partial government shutdown. I interviewed business owners to see what impact the shutdown had. I learned the importance of not only asking the right questions, but also of keeping a pair of comfortable flats available.

More Like This...

Checking sources for ‘fake stories’

“Fake news” has become a thorn in the side of reporting. Yes, there are always stories that have failings in bias, bad research, or other problems. But the idea of

Double-check all the things people are sure they know

You’d think this would be a given, but too many business stories incorporate information that, while popularly believed, is simply wrong. If you don’t check statements that business experts, academics,

Forget the source’s fancy pedigree

You know the drill. You receive a response to an outstanding query, or maybe it’s something tepid coming in over the transom. The email lauds the potential source. Went to

Get Two Minute Tips For Business Journalism Delivered To Your Email Every Tuesday

Two Minute Tips

Every Tuesday we send out a quick-read email with tips for business journalism. Sign up now and get one Tuesday.