Asking Questions: the art of the media interview


233 pages
ISBN 0-88908-616-8




Reviewed by Dean Tudor

Dean Tudor is a journalism professor at the Ryerson Polytechnical
Institute and founding editor of the CBRA.


Another extremely useful book from International Self-Counsel; this time, useful for journalists (and journalists-to-be). McLaughlin begins with the basics of listening and observing, pointing out the need for deep background research so that the interviewer knows almost as much as the person being interviewed. He moves along to how the interview is set up and how the questions are prepared, as well as the “psychology” behind interviewing: the use of silence, tone of voice, open-ended questions, location. He further explores the differences between print and broadcast interviews. In the latter, the journalist needs to get good quality quotes on tapes for radio and television. Many times these will be available only through political scrums where the journalist is but one among many in the pack chasing after the politician.

Almost half of the book consists of transcripts of interviews with other interviewers explaining their craft or stating how they got a story. McLaughlin interviews about a hundred interviewers in all, a mixture of Canadian and American, including Earl McRae, Richard Gwyn, Tom Alderman, Judy Nyman, Jay Scott, June Callwood, Barbara Frum, Peter Gzowski, and Patrick Watson. A good book for understanding the technique of “the laying on of the hands.”


McLaughlin, Paul, “Asking Questions: the art of the media interview,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024,