When conducting interviews, most reporters conduct themselves knowing that their notes, questions and side remarks will never be seen by anyone other than themselves, even their editor. In the rare occurrence of a subpoena of their notes, a handful of lawyers may have the opportunity to pour over the material, but it would be extremely unusual for the world to have that opportunity.
This could be changing with the Internet and a great example is this online package on the upcoming movie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. Most people who caught this program on television will allow the content and the interviews — which include our own Tmatt — to slip into a forgotten part of the past. But this is no longer the case.
For people like myself, who missed the live broadcast, the transcript of the program along with the video is available for any and all with an Internet connection. But that’s not all. Religion and Ethics Newsweekly was kind enough to post the transcripts of the interviews with Tmatt and author and Wheaton College professor Alan Jacobs for the piece so we could analyze ourselves the questions asked and the thoughts of the person actually doing the reporting. For those analyzing the media’s coverage of anything, this is an incredible tool and in an ideal world, the way it should always be.
Kim Lawton’s report on the film is a solid piece of work. It focuses on the film, the targeted audience and the producer’s marketing approach, and from what I could tell, Lawton uses the material from her interviews quite fairly and accurately. For time’s sake, not all quotes are completely intact, but that is to be expected. For instance, take this quote from the edited version:
Mr. MATTINGLY: The major symbolism, of course, is the death and resurrection of a Christ figure. And all of this is interpreted with language that is not out of the Bible, but you would have to be pretty blind not to see what the symbols mean and to hear what the words mean.
And here it is in the entire section:
Q: What are the key religious themes and symbols in THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE?
A: The major symbolism, of course, is the death and resurrection of a Christ figure. It’s interesting in the sense that there is no attempt to create a cross. Instead, Lewis, who, like Tolkien, loved ancient mythologies and loved those stories, goes with a much more ritualistic image of an altar, a stone table, an Aztec stone knife, and a witch who just slays him. But then you have a very vivid and literal resurrection. All of this is interpreted with language that is not out of the Bible, but you would have to be pretty blind not to see what the symbols mean and to hear what the words mean.
Tmatt told me that he was thankful that they ran the entire interview. And why not? It was a 45-minute ordeal and that type of information should not be left to just the producers to cut and paste into a nice package. We the viewer/reader should be able to examine the interview in its entirety.
Is this the way of the future? Will the interviews I conduct for my day job end up online uncut and unedited? How will this change reporting? Will I be more formal with those I interview? It sure didn’t seem to hold back Jann Wenner in his interview with Bono. But did he know at the time that the tape of the interview would be thrown out on the Web for anyone to download?
When I cite a document when writing a story for my day job, I consistently link to the original document if possible. In the next year, will I start linking to the mp3 of an interview when I quote a source?