Friday, February 01, 2008
A Q&A without the Q
As story forms go, the Q&A is only marginally alternative. This is especially true of the interview Q&A, which consists of a give and take between reporter and source. Magazines have long used this format — how do you think Playboy got all those readers?

The form, though it pops up now and again, has been less popular in newspapers, which is unfortunate. This story from The News & Observer is an example of how to do this well. The news peg is a speech by Robert Reich, a former leader of the Labor Department and noted economist.

News stories about such speeches are typically written in the inverted pyramid form. And they're often dull.

This approach here is more engaging and memorable (just as EyeTrack says). The reporter takes his interview with Reich and organizes it by theme. The introductory text sets the stage, and bold lede-ins take the reader from point to point, with Reich's own words telling the story.

It's a question-and-answer story without the questions, and it's a format that works both in print and online.

Here's another way to cover a similar event.

UPDATE: An early version of this post said Reich led the Treasury Department. I regret the error.
posted by Andy Bechtel at 12:25 PM | Permalink |


  • At 3:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

    You're so serious. It's hard to tell when you're joking.

    So, in case you're not:
    The Playboy Interview is an institution, but is not how that particular magazine built its readership.

  • At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

    They, like Life magazine, drew in readers with photos.

  • At 3:51 PM, Blogger Andy Bechtel


    That was just a little bit of humor. I'm glad you enjoyed it.