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THE PARTNER INTERVIEW: Here's what to do

By Peggy Holman

Some say the work begins the moment the idea is formed. We invite you into an inquiry to help shape the ideas that guide our work in Washington, D.C. by spending an hour by telephone before the session with one other participant, engaging in creative inquiry about the themes underlying the session. The threefold purpose:

  • Arrive on site already having established a relationship with another person;
  • Begin to understand both the diverse and common perspectives among us; and
  • Ground our work in the meeting’s themes using an activity fundamental to journalism: storytelling.

You received your interview "partner" by email. If you did not, please email jtm@mediagiraffe.org and we'll match you up. We strive to connect Journalism That Matters participants of differing perspectives or work, in order to create the possibility of new learning.

We KNOW everyone is busy; we believe taking the time for this will accelerate our work. In fact, even if you don’t have an hour, previous participants have told us that making the connection even for a short time enhanced the experience both for them as individuals and for the group.

Below are some questions you can use. Our experience has been that these questions are useful to break new and fertile ground. That said, feel free to ask other questions as you wish. Our suggestion is that one person act as interviewer for all four questions and then swap.


After your conversation, please share a few highlights by posting them to the JTM-DC wiki at the page below. You can agree to both post, or designate just one of you. You can view an example of the interviews from our Memphis convening.

Posting to a wiki page is easy. First click on the URL. You will see near the top of the page a tab which says "edit." Click on that tab. A new page will be displayed with an editing box in the center. Use the right-hand scroll bar to scroll to the last entry. Type or copy-and-paste your text into the place. Then click the "save page" button just below the editing box. You're done. Don't worry about formatting. We'll be looking at the page regularly and will clean up any formatting problems for you.

Here's the URL: http://www.mediagiraffe.org/wiki/index.php/jtm-dc-interviews

If you don't want to hassle with the wiki, just email your interview report (text or MSWord) and we'll take care if it for you. Send to jtm@mediagiraffe.org.


Your task is to interview the other person and draw out their story so that they relive not only the facts, but the “music” – the feelings, the energy, the excitement, the color, of their story.

1. A story that mattered

  • Each of us has been engaged with at least one story that we experienced as particularly valuable; a story that had great productive impact; in other words, a story that mattered. Tell me about a story you were involved with or were touched by that comes to mind. What gave it value…for its audience? For its creators?

2. Your greatest contribution

  • Without being humble, what do you value most about yourself as a contributor to great journalism? What gifts do you see yourself bringing to this meeting?

3. What's working in the new ecosystem?

  • In these times when credentialed bloggers cover federal-court proceedings, vloggers go to prison in defense of First Amendment principles and "crowdsourcing" blossoms, it is clear that how journalism happens is changing. Tell me about an experience you’ve had with these new realities, in which a story did its work innovatively and well.
  • What did that experience teach you about the gifts of both new innovations and the traditional roots of journalism?
  • What do these insights tell you about how to prepare the next generation of journalists and audience?

4. Envision journalism in 10 years

  • The year is 2017 and journalism has successfully emerged from the difficult years to fulfill its core mission of serving healthy democracy – providing the information people need to make good choices in their lives, to engage in their communities, and to understand and act effectively from their place in the larger world. What is going on? What innovations have made this type of journalism economically viable?


Capture your reflections on your partner’s responses using this outline or something like it:

  1. What meaning did you take from the interview process?
  2. Please share a standout story or quote.
  3. What surprised, challenged, inspired, and/or delighted you about the interview?