LOOSENING LIPS: THE ART OF THE INTERVIEW
In 2004, investigative journalist Eric Nalder interviewed a whistleblower from ConocoPhillips, the nation's third-largest oil company. Nader's investigation revealed that oil industry safety nets were being undermined. EXPOSÉ episode, "A Sea of Troubles."
investigation into the enforcement of safety regulations on oil tankers
which uncovered serious safety lapses and cover-ups.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Eric Nalder is known for his ability to get people to open up and tell all they know, on the record. His book, TANKERS FULL OF TROUBLE, won the Investigative Reporters and Editors book award in 1994. He has taught interviewing and investigative reporting workshops in five countries, each year adding new techniques learned from journalists, cops, FBI agents, and lawyers. "Loosening Lips" is Nalder's workshop on the art of the interview.
An interview is a seemingly casual but directed conservation that clicks open locked doors, organizes scattered memories, and penetrates privacy chambers. The craft is both art and science. I learned the techniques described in this handout during 35 years of reporting, and 20 years of teaching workshops. Many were borrowed from psychiatrists, psychologists, police officers, FBI agents, lawyers, private investigators, social workers, journalists, and others who regularly interview people. Though I am an experienced interviewer, I regularly re-read my own handout. These techniques require constant practice and the skills must be regularly upgraded. There is no personality best suited for conducting an interview, and anyone can learn. Each individual should tailor these techniques to their personality. And it is okay to fail as long as you learn from your mistakes.