When I found out I was going to be interning at a newspaper in Ghana, initially I was nervous. As a public relations and Spanish major, I don’t have substantial experience working with the fifth estate. I was afraid that my employers would be disappointed in my lack of journalistic knowledge or that I would fail miserably when writing an article.
However, all of my coworkers were happy to show me the ropes. Since the start of my internship, I’ve become accustomed to the way a news publication works, and I’ve developed my own journalistic style. I’ve even learned to enjoy writing stories and to appreciate a well-articulated piece.
But the best part about being an intern at a newspaper has been the interviews.
Interviews have allowed me to hear about issues from a new perspective and see people speak passionately about their life’s work.
Interviews have given me the opportunity to talk to a local bead maker, where I learned about the production process and cultural importance of beads. I was able to question the chief executive officer of GN Life Assurance, Fiifi Simpson, and ask about how the business is helping Ghana’s GDP. I visited the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Center where I interviewed people about a program that uses mobile phones to promote gender equality. Another day I went to the University of Ghana to learn more about Radio Univers’ latest broadcast on the 2016 presidential elections.
The interview process starts days in advance. I comb through previous articles and scour websites to find all the information I can. I use this knowledge to formulate questions, and finally I show them to my editor who then makes suggestions. However, the most learning comes when I get to speak with the people who I’m questioning.
People are always excited to talk about something they care about. As cliché as this may sound, my favorite part of an interview is when I ask a question and the interviewee’s eyes light up. A detailed dialogue about the issue usually ensues, with reasons why they care about the topic.
After covering events at Parliament, reporters go up to politicians and ask them questions about what they said or opinions they hold on issues regarding the event. This is where I really get to know who the policy makers are and what they stand for, without an audience in front of them. Although many of their answers seem rehearsed and expected, it’s exciting to be able to speak directly with Ghanaian politicians.
Above all, my favorite part about interviews is learning about other people. Through interviews I am better able to understand why people pursue a certain line of work and put so much effort into it. I get to see first-hand people’s reactions, body language, dialogue, and more to different questions.
Interviews allow me to understand a person better than if I just read about them. You get the opportunity to see candid responses in real time. I hope I can take my newfound interviewing skills back to the States and put them to good use.