Kurdish Digital Workshop DAY 2: December 16, 2020
Lesson 1: Gulistan Korban Rencber, “Production and Preparation of Video News”
With the advancements made in technology and multimedia platforms, news reporting and narrative journalism have provided the world with new ways of receiving information about current global, regional, and local events. The fastest-growing media broadcasting platform is undoubtedly video news.
Video news is a versatile platform in which the content creator has the ability to produce anything for consumption by the general public. Gulistan Korban Rencber, Editor of ortadogunews.com, has become an expert in creating video media content for both T.V. and online platforms.
She shared her expertise with us regarding how to produce and prepare video news. “Firstly, know your topic and the entire process becomes very easy,” Gulistan said. There are a few questions you should also answer before you leave to record your video.
Gulistan says to ask yourself: where will I record; who will I talk to; what is the topic I’ll be focusing on; is my technical equipment ready; and lastly, is my camera-person ready. As a general rule of thumb, she says, become familiar and comfortable with the topic you have selected and the subjects you have chosen to include in your video.
“But sometimes, in our daily lives we happen upon the news,” Gulistan says as she recalls one such example for herself. She was strolling through a neighborhood in Diyarbakir when her eye caught a very interesting storefront. She saw 2 young men working away on a traditional Kurdish instrument called the tembûr. At this point, she jumped at the opportunity and wanted to know if it was worthwhile to turn this into a news story.
In these instances, Gulistan advises us to take advantage of the situation. She suggests to go ahead and start a conversation, and conduct an informal interview to gather some information about what you see. Then head back to your office, develop a proper course of action, and return with the appropriate equipment to complete a full news story.
When it comes to the video itself, Gulistan parted some very valuable advice. She says to try to keep your rough video shoot to a maximum of five minutes before the editing process. The final product after editing should not exceed three minutes or you’ll lose your viewers, she warns. Let the images tell your news story and try not to overload the video with excessive speech. You’re not obligated to ask every question you have prepared. The style of the report should follow that of a narrative news story.
Don’t let the images you record be so far off from what you’re going to say. “If you talk about a personality, bring that person into the shot, if it’s about a process, show that happening in your video,” says Gulistan. It’s imperative, just as in narrative journalism, to keep the language clear and concise, and your sentences short and simple. Avoid elaborate vocabulary and excessive descriptive storytelling.
The second half of her lesson took us through a video presentation. Acting as a news story presenter, the most important thing is to know how to breathe properly. Breathing from your diaphragm, she says, allows you to speak clearly without running out of air in-between your sentences. Her trick? Lay flat on your back, place a heavy book on your stomach, and breath while trying to lift it up and down with your stomach.
Lesson 2: Ferid Demirel, “Interview Protocol in Digital Media”
Clyde Haberman once said, “exhaustive research is the basic building block of a successful interview.” These exact sentiments were expressed by Ferid Demirel, Editor at Bianet-Kurdish, who says research and preparation are vital to the overall interview process. Ferid further elaborated that without proper questions, the entire interview can fall flat.
As is with most disciplines, research is the glue that holds the entire piece together – the piece being the full news story prepared from the interview. Knowing what you’re going to ask will create confidence in not only yourself and your questions, but the entire interview process.
Ferid says to ask yourself: what are your expectations for the interview; what are the expectations of your viewers; who is the personality you’re going to interview; what are they known for; what have they said in the past; what results do you expect; and lastly, what does your viewership expect from the outcomes of the interview. This part of the research process will help guide you in forming your interview questions.
The next thing you should do, according to Ferid, determines a place, time, and date for the actual interview. Here you should consider the structure of the interview. Consider what pace your questions will flow in. Consider the risks of conducting the interview for yourself and the interviewee. And finally, prepare yourself for any surprises that may come up: a change in location, date, or time; or a change in the interviewees’ willingness to answer your questions – to name a few.
The preparation of the questions can only be conducted once your research is completed. Here you will determine in what order you will ask your questions and of course what the actual questions will be. Questions are very important. Your questions should produce meaningful and thought-provoking answers. “A powerful interviewer knows what the goal of the interview is,” says Ferid.
During the actual interview, the mark of a great interviewer lies in their listening abilities. Throughout the interview, you need to determine when it’s appropriate to interject and when to allow the person to continue their thought. Repeating your question, or even rewording the question to extract a satisfactory answer is sometimes an important skill to have.
As Carl Bernstein famously once said, “I think all good reporting is the same thing – the best attainable version of the truth.” It’s important to respect your interviewee’s level of comfort with answering your questions, but never settle for anything but the best version of the truth.
Ferid also provided tips that become a necessary part of conducting the interview. Your equipment becomes an extension of you and your work, without them, you’ll stumble into trouble. “Always bring a pen or pencil – bring more than one pen,” Ferid advises. If you plan to use a voice recording device or a laptop, don’t forget to bring your chargers and batteries. In order for your interview to have any integrity, it’s vital that you ask and receive consent from the interviewee to record them in any way.
Ferid reminded us that it’s important to adjust the interview process based on the genre of interview you are planning to conduct. Interviews can also be conducted on a variety of media platforms – t.v., podcasts, online, and through telephone. Depending on the genre and the platform you choose the number of questions you ask and the manner in which you ask them changes.
Written by: Veen Sulaivany with contributions from Defne Mercan Hocaoglu
Edited by: Murat Bayram