To Skype or not to Skype?

Posted by: Kelly Hendricks 

 Accurate reporting and informational interviews are very important when writing an article. It can be hard to coordinate and meet up with people in order to get your questions answered. Thanks to technology, Skype is becoming increasingly popular and doing interviews through it is also common now. Skype started out as being a way to keep in touch with friends in a more personal and intimate way but now it is used for business/conference calls, job interviews and journalistic reporting.

But what are the pros and cons of doing an interview through Skype for journalistic reporting? Can you get solid information? Or will you miss essential concepts?

Skype is convenient if the person you are interviewing isn’t in your area because you can save money and time. It even allows for international calls. Usually if an in-person interview isn’t possible, phone interviews are the go-to option but Skype is more personal and allows your interviewee to be in a place they are comfortable which might make them open up more and make your article more interesting and detailed. Another factor when doing an interview is safety. If you are interviewing someone and don’t know them too well, it can be nerve-wracking to meet with them in private. Skype allows you to avoid this factor but still be able to see the person you are interviewing face-to-face.

There are also  negatives when it comes to doing interviews via Skype. First off, you can’t always get a good idea of who the person really is. Technical issues can be a problem too like the quality of sound, the freezing of your computer and background noise. An article from radioworld.com says that Skype can be unpredictable and unreliable. It also states that it is necessary to buy a headset and computer-connected microphones — not as bad as traveling across the country, but still not as easy as just turning on your computer and downloading the application. James Careless, the author of the article, mentions that satellite transmission can be a problem and using a different Skype set-up then your interviewee also creates an issue. If there is a different connection, Careless stated that you would have to use “Skype Out” which is not free — so there are hidden costs.

I think that in-person interviews are the way to go but if that is not possible and a phone interview isn’t an option, Skype is a good backup plan.

Do you think Skype is a reliable way to do interviews? Or do you think traditional in-person interviews are better?

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3 responses to “To Skype or not to Skype?

  1. I have been the victim of a poor Skype interview call. There was a delay so I sounded like I wasn’t confident or on the ball. I think Skype is great for less important, personal conversations, but phone interviews should be the go-to back up plan if an in-person interview is not possible.

  2. I think I would find a skype interview more nerve-wrecking than a phone interview. Obviously, in-person interviews are most preferred because it provides a comfortable environment for both the reporter and the interviewee, but Skype tends to put both in the spotlight. It’s a bit like a staring contest, as it’s just reporter and interviewee directly in each other’s faces.

  3. Kelly Hendricks

    Alyssa, I like what you said about it being a “staring contest” sometimes when I am skyping I get that feeling and it can be awkward.

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