exact title. The source can be identified in general terms,
such as a Pentagon spokesman, government
official, qualified authority, and so forth.
DEEP BACKGROUND. The source is com-
pletely omitted but the reporter can use the information.
Example: It has been learned that Admiral Little
resigned because he was forced out by. . . .
Types of Interviews and Techniques
There are several types of news media interviews,
ranging from impromptu ones in a crisis to long-
planned, easy going talk-show type of interviews. The
senior journalist must know the types of interviews and
the techniques involved for two reasons. First, there may
come a time when you will be the subject of a media
interview if the PAO is unavailable (or if you are serving
as a PAO in a smaller command). Second, you are
frequently called upon to conduct media training for
those individuals scheduled for a media interview.
ACCIDENT OR INCIDENT. In the highly-
charged emotional atmosphere of an accident or
incident where news media may be denied access due
to ongoing investigations, recommend to the CO that he
make a brief statement to the news media and take a few
questions. With the help of the news media, the CO may
Reach out to crew families and assure them that
the CO is in charge, all that can be done is being
done, and so forth.
Tell the public of heroic acts.
Express thanks to those individuals or organiza-
tions involved in rescue, firefighting, and so on.
Any questions about accident details may be
answered with the following statement: I m sorry, I
cannot discuss details that will be part of the ongoing
Navy investigation. In a tragic accident or incident,
senior fleet PAOs will be involved and will provide your
office with advice and guidance.
GENERAL. This is a one-on-one interview
involving a reporter and an individual involved in a
specific event or issue. You and the PAO may grant this
type of interview on a case-by-case basis, depending on
the sensitivity of the issue and if the subject matter is not
beyond the responsibility of the person to be
interviewed. The PAO should monitor the interview and
tape-record it in case questions arise later on the context
of the answers or if the interviewee is misquoted.
TALK SHOW. Many local television and cable
stations have interview shows where people in the
news are interviewed. These are referred to as soft
interviews that usually focus on the personality of the
person or command, rather than on hard news issues.
Nevertheless, prior preparation is important even for a
soft interview. Be sure you know if there will be another
speaker on the show who will be asked their opinions of
the issues the interviewee will address.
Since the talk show interview is usually scheduled
in advance and topics may be agreed upon in advance,
the interviewee must be aware that new questions may
arise tied to current events in the news. For example, if
the CO is scheduled for a 0900 interview on the heels
of a major naval incident nine hours earlier, he can
expect some questions on it.
AMBUSH. This type of on-the-run, unantici-
pated interview usually is related to some major issue or
controversial event. The person leaves his home, a
congressional hearing or a courtroom, and is suddenly
faced with television cameras, microphones and
shouted questions. The main rule here is to keep cool,
smile and move as soon as possible. It is acceptable to
say I am sorry, I do not have the time to talk to you.
Once the subject stops to answer one question, it is
harder to move on.
REMOTE. This is similar to the general interview
but involves the interviewee in one loation (such as on
the ships bridge or pier) and the interviewer in a
television studio asking questions. There may also be a
third party linked by another remote location or in the
television studio. The interviewee has an earplug to hear
The main drawback to this interview is the
distraction and confusion the audio feedback makes in
the earplug. This technical problem makes the
interviewee more nervous and thus interferes with the
ability to do the best interview possible. Practice with
the remote will help, but such interviews are always
EDITED. As you already know, any interview,
whether it be print, radio or television, may be edited if
it is not done live. The problem with the edited interview
is that an answer may be edited out of context. One
answer to this problem is to have command personnel
only appear on live radio or television shows. However,
even alive interview can be stage-managed by the host.
The best advice about this interview is that you
know the people you are dealing with. For example, the
Navy has had very bad experiences with some so-called