“Slow Listening” & Different Perspectives
Tips & Advice for “Slow Listening”
While news continues and we report virtually, I know it can be difficult to immerse yourself in a story and community. Typically we can go to a neighborhood and get a better sense of the culture. To accurately represent your source and avoid stereotypes, a good practice that can be done via Zoom or phone is what Sue Ellen Christian calls “slow listening.” Christian outlines the concept in Reporting Inequality, explaining that reporters actively listen during the interview in a way that isn’t driven by the transaction of quotes. Instead of anticipating the next question or focusing on crafting the story mid-interview, paint a scene with the source.
Christian outlines the concept in Reporting Inequality, explaining that reporters actively listen during the interview in a way that isn’t driven by the transaction of quotes.
Ask questions about their daily life and get a better understanding of what their life is like. Rather than doing an interview to grab quotes, focus on learning about the person and who they are. Additionally, go into the interview with humility and acknowledge you don’t know everything. This will allow the source to provide their authentic story without any of your biases getting in the way. Slow listening can best be used when covering social issues or a community outside of your own because it encourages you to take a breath and focus on connecting with the person’s story rather than the one you will be writing after the interview. Also, try and take some time to self-reflect before reporting and think about what might be missing in your angle. What assumptions are keeping you from getting to a better story?
Questions to ask your sources for different perspectives
Christian also brings up two important questions the Society of Professional Journalists encourages reporters to ask sources that’ll allow your them to also think critically about an issue and acknowledge different perspectives:
- Do you think your race or ethnicity (age, gender, religion, economic background, etc.) affects the way you think about this issue?
- As someone not of your community (race, ethnicity, gender, other) what do you think I might miss when reporting about this?
- A good example is when speaking with a doctor or expert about the impact of COVID-19. Asking these questions may bring to light issues and angles that could have gone unnoticed.
Again, here is a link to Annenberg Media’s Guide to Equitable Reporting Strategies and Newsroom Style where you can find more guidance: http://bit.ly/AnnMediaEquitableReportingGuide
Stay safe and reach out to any of the Equity Board members if you need help with anything!