ENG1151 Fall 2023

Week 4: Begin Your Interview with Assigned Journalism Student

Thank you students for your careful reading and comments on the interview profiles of Eden Bridgeman Sklenar and Juan Gonzalez. While both of these journalists are superstars in their own right, the interviewers were themselves talented practitioners of journalism, especially adept at bringing out key details and information about their interesting subjects in an engaging manner. It was also interesting to see how Jillian Jorgensen was able to bring her subject’s “story” alive for NY1 television viewers – though not famous, Carlos (and his daughter) were worthy interviewees.

All of you made some helpful points about what makes an interview particularly stellar.

Sphear, for example, writes on “Ebony Returns to Chronicle a New Moment,” noting Marc Tracy’s “ability to relay multiple stories simultaneously, relaying the impact of said stories, and then being able tie them together at the end to one consistent point. The ability of a veteran journalist to implement multiple stories, points of view, and sources shows why it is important how you structure an article. The ability to properly structure an article allows the writer to tell many branching narratives while maintaining the ease of understanding for the reader.  

Avis Weathersbee’s interview with Eden Bridgeman Sklenar is another example of great journalism. She allows Sklenar to answer each question without interruption and builds on some questions. This shows that she is knowledgeable about the topic and interested.  Student journalists should be able to expand on questions. It shows that they are actively listening and produces more substantial answers.” 

“Street-Beat Confidential,” Aaron writes, “is an interview that captures Daily News journalist Juan Gonzales as he is continually moving and focused on his own point of view in the streets around Rockefeller Center. […] As a journalist, Gonzalez employed a variety of techniques, but I believe one of them was to walk about the streets rather than read about something to get a first-person perspective on it—well captured by the interviewer.”

Riley Gatto’s favorite piece was “Two decades later, a student returns to class at CUNY” by Jillian Jorgensen. As she writes, “right off the bat, I was drawn to the piece for sentimental reasons; one of the first few sentences is a heartfelt quote from the student who is covered in the piece, Carlos Rodriguez. ‘In my heart, I always knew I wanted to come back to school. I don’t know when that was going to happen, but I knew that eventually it would happen,’ Rodriguez said. This quote immediately gives the audience someone to root for and a reason to continue reading the story to see the victory of this person. This piece not only can resonate with those of us who are nontraditional students, but anyone who has ever had to wait for their dreams to come to fruition. I think the technical move of involving his daughter, a fellow City Tech student, increases the sentiment the reader/watcher feels towards the subject. The story is engaging and very clearly written in a style that makes it seem like Carlos’s journey has come full-circle, which is very satisfying to read.”

Well said all.

Now that you’ve read and analyzed these pieces, I ask that you put into practice your own journalism skills by interviewing a fellow student and creating a profile of him or her.  You can do the interview in written form, or if you like, as a video recording.

Interview Assignment Directions:

1) Look below to see who your student partner is (see list below).

2) Read the Student Interview Assignment (I have also posted this assignment at the bottom of this page)

3) Review these sample student interviews to use as models. The first sample is in the classic “Q & A” style; the second sample is the “story-line” style also used in the Juan Gonzalez interview.

4) Create a list of questions drawn, in part, from the ones I’ve given you. I encourage you to add your own creative questions. As you interview, you might find that you want to go in a new direction. You may also need to ask follow-up questions.

This week I want you to contact your interview partner (you can get contact information by responding to their self-introduction under “our community”).

Discuss how you want to perform the interview (on zoom, email, or google.docs).

You can upload (and work on) this assignment in our googledocs dropbox: HERE To upload a file from your computer press “new” (on upper left corner) and then “upload file”.

If you have questions or concerns, please email me (mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu). As a reminder, I also hold weekly office hours (Tuesdays 4-5 pm). The zoom link is on our site.

Draft Due Date: Monday, Oct. 2 (but get started soon!)

Student Interview Partners

Kareeb,Efaz  AND WuWu,Qiting

Khanam,Mareefa AND Morales,Richard

Prosper,Thierry AND Rodnell,Kiana 

Jason Barrios AND Halley,Kevin

Gan,Aaron AND Willis,Christopher

Bah,Mamadou AND Li,Christine 

Martinez,Cindy AND Zhang,Cui 

Kimba,Samiratou AND Barrios,Jason

Jimenez,Gabriel AND Baltazar,Kobe

Lee,Edmond AND Cruz,Odalis 

Diallo,Coumba   AND Forde,Sphear

Gan,Elan  AND Gatto,Riley Marie



Unit #1: Interview Assignment

Writing a “Student Profile”

A “profile feature” is a newspaper article that explores the background and character of a particular person (or group). The focus should be on a news angle and/or key aspects of the subject’s personal or professional/academic life. Based on information gleaned during your interview, try to think about what really stands out that defines your subject.

The profile should begin with the reason the subject is newsworthy at this time, and should be based on an extensive interview with the subject (see sample questions below). Biographical material is important but should not be overemphasized: the biography is background to the news. Readers should be allowed to better understand the subject by seeing this person in the context of his or her interests and career, educational and family background.

When reporting a profile feature article, pay close attention to your subject’s habits and mannerisms. Subtle clues like posture, tone of voice and word choice can all, when presented to readers, contribute to a fuller and more accurate presentation of the interview subject.

When interviewing, encourage your subject to open up and express significant thoughts, feelings or opinions. Do so by asking open-ended questions that are well-planned. Make sure to research the subject of your profile before beginning your interview. This will help you to maintain focus during the conversation and to ask questions that will elicit compelling responses.

The profile should open with an overall picture of the subject’s achievements, aims, and personal qualities. Consider interviewing other people (friends/family members), representing a variety of perspectives, about the subject of your profile. Ask them for telling anecdotes. You don’t have to quote, or even mention, all of these people in your article.

A profile feature lede can take one of many forms. One is a “delayed lede,” in which a person is introduced before his or her relevance is revealed.

An example:

“As a young girl growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Mae C. Jemison watched telecasts of the Gemini and Apollo spaceflights and knew that that was her destiny. No matter that all the astronauts were male and white and that she was female and black. She simply knew she would be a space traveler. Now a 35-year-old doctor and engineer, Dr. Jemison has realized her dream, launching into orbit yesterday as one of the shuttle Endeavor’s seven member crew. In the process she has become the first African-American woman to go into space….”

Review the sample profile I provide as well as the profile on Ebony editor Eden Bridgeman Sklenar, from last week’s readings. Like these two samples, begin with an introduction of your subject (your “lede”), followed by a Question and Answer sequence. Alternately, you can use a “story-line” as Paul Hond does in his interview of Juan Gonzalez.

Here are some questions to ask but feel free to add your own. It might be helpful to upload these questions into your own google.docs document (which you can upload to our class googledrive).

1. Who’s someone you admire, and why?
2. Tell me three pet peeves.
3. What’s a typical day like for you?
4. Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about?
5. If you could be anywhere other than here, right this minute, where would you be? (Don’t overthink it!)
6. Flashback to when you were 10 years old. What do you want to be when you grow up?
7. If we went to your favorite restaurant, what would you order?
8. Finish this sentence. On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me…
9. How do you want people to remember you?
10. What do you think are the best skills that you bring to a job?
11. Name three words that you describe you.
12. How do you think your friends would describe you?
13. What do you want to make sure you do before you die?
14. What’s a goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year?
16. What publications do you regularly read?
17. What are you happiest doing, when you’re not studying or working?
18. What are some causes or issues you care about?
19. What is your current college major? What is your desired future career?
20. What would be your personal motto?

21.  What social media (or other news feeds) do you follow or use?

1 Comment

  1. Cui Zhang

    Hey Cindy, we are assigned to be partners. I have also sent you a private message here on openlab. My email is cui.zhang@mail.citytech.cuny.edu

    Feel free to contact me!

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