Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Art of Interviewing w/ Steve Bogira

Today Steve Bogira, author of Courtroom 302, spoke with the AAJ fellows about the art of interviewing. Before today's lesson we had to read the prologue and first chapter of his book, which was a detailed account of the Cook County criminal courthouse in Chicago in the late 1990s.

I'm not into the prison beat, but Bogira's book is journalism at its best -- lucid, detailed and gripping. We think of injustice as these high-profiled cases of innocent people being sentenced to years of confinement, but Bogira points out without saying it directly that with a keep the line moving mentality, the American justice system miscarriages daily.

One of my favorite lines in the book comes from Sergeant London Thomas, who Bogira said was been promoted and was head of security at the R. Kelly trial, a guard who asks inquisitive prisoner, "Excuse me -- why am I about to beat the piss outta you?" If you've ever been to your local courthouse you know how rude and sade the scence can be. Bogira captures it perfectly. Definitely a must read.

Bogira said the book is being developed into a screenplay for HBO. I'd love to see it. Especially if it is similar to two other HBO book to film projects, such as David Simon's, 'The Corner' a few years ago and Evan Wright's, 'Generation Kill', which is coming in July.If HBO stays true to its established for then Bogira's nuanced prose will remain much more in tact than it would if it landed on network television.

Anyway, back to AAJ. Our instructor for the week, Mike Lenehan, former Executive Editor of the Chicago Reader, sent the class a few links on just how important it is for journalists to sharpen their interview skills. Here are a few links if you're interested in what we're learning. The first is an interview with investigative reporter John Sawatsky, one of the leading authorities on the art of interviewing, go here.

The others are helpful intructions on What to Do and What to Avoid.

1 comment:

LucieLu said...

Keep sharing this stuff Phil it's really interesting following what you all are learning