Qualitative Research in Journalism: Taking It to the Streets

By Sharon Hartin Iorio | Go to book overview

7
Focused Interviews
Sharon Hartin Iorio
Wichita State University

One time-honored tradition of journalism is the street interview. To do a street interview, a reporter goes to a public place, stops people by chance, and asks each one a single question about an important issue of the day. This very simple form of reporting community reaction illustrates three pivotal features of the qualitative research method called focused interviewing. First, the reporter seeks out everyday citizens, not government officials, high-ranking business leaders, or social elites. Second, the reporter asks each person the same question in the same way. Third, the resulting news report comes directly from the words of those interviewed. The social science method of focused interviews, however, is not merely an extended form of the street interview.

The street interview can produce no more than the brief, snapshot opinions of those willing to share their views. Focused interview methodology is a qualitative research tool that can elicit in-depth responses and identify commonalities among the replies people give. The off-the-cuff comments picked up from street interviews are merely interesting opinions of individuals. The purpose of the focused interview is not only to identify and report, like the street interview, but also to interpret and show any shared insights found among the individuals' replies. The focus is to uncover accurately how a group of interviewees understand a problem or what they believe about a certain topic. The actual interview process is personal and conducted one-on-one to draw out each individual's unique viewpoint (Merton, Fiske, & Kendall, 1956/1990).

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Qualitative Research in Journalism: Taking It to the Streets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • References xii
  • Preface xiii
  • About the Contributors xvii
  • Part I 1
  • 1 - Qualitative Method Journalism 3
  • References *
  • 2 - The Chicago School Precedent 21
  • Endnotes *
  • References *
  • 3 - From Objectivity to Interpretive Sufficiency 41
  • References *
  • Part II 57
  • 4 - The Case of the Akron Beacon Journal 59
  • References *
  • 5 - Focus Groups Newsroom Style 75
  • References *
  • 6 - Giving Voice to the Voiceless 93
  • References *
  • Appendix 6.1 - Deed of Gift to the Public Domain *
  • 7 - Focused Interviews 109
  • Endnotes *
  • References *
  • 8 - Ethnographic Journalism 127
  • References *
  • 9 - Inventing Civic Mapping 145
  • Endnotes *
  • References *
  • 10 - Textual Analysis in Journalism 163
  • Endnotes *
  • References 174
  • 11 - The Imperative of Pairing Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches in Communication Research 175
  • Endnotes *
  • References *
  • 12 - Newsrooms and Community 193
  • References *
  • Endnotes *
  • Glossary 213
  • References 224
  • Author Index 227
  • Subject Index 233
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