Much of the media when talking about a reporters questions to an interviewee are heavily focused on whether the Questions were ‘Tough’ or ‘Easy’ questions. Who cares? This, to me, reflects their overwhelming underlying concern with the Gotcha Question! If you can get an interviewee to say something they didn’t want to say – you’ve achieved some kind of feeble power victory. Although both men & women reporters use this vocabulary, it seems to me overly heavy on testosterone.
I’d like to propose, just for the refreshing variety of it, an ‘Intelligent Question’. One which might elicit an answer we never anticipated. Instead of asking for a repeat of their standard stump speech, something unexpected…
What is your strategic goal here?
What would you like to have happen here?
Have these proposed solutions ever worked in the past?
What, if anything, is different about today’s circumstances?
How could we move beyond these differences?
Of course, there will always be the really, really, really Stupid questions like: “What magazines do you read”?
What are your favorite Intelligent Questions?
P.S. This concern has, to my mind, neutralized talk show hosts like Chris Wallace. Early on I really enjoyed him. But now I totally avoid him, as he turns almost every question into a Gotcha question, designed to enhance his popularity, but totally ignore the audience’s desire for new knowledge. He compounds it with his ‘lightening rounds’, a format he created to make sure a respondents response can only be trivial…