Thursday, February 18, 2016

Silence Broken: A Mother's Reckoning

On Feb. 12th Sue Klebold, the mother of one of the Columbine shooters, spoke on television for the first time since the shooting. She appeared on 20/20 and was interviewed by Diane Sawyer. The entire 20/20 episode was chilling and emotional, and I definitely recommend people check it online. 

Listening to Klebold talk was extremely interesting, but I was also paying close attention to how Diane was conducting the interview. As an aspiring documentary producer, I have become more comfortable conducting interviews throughout my time in college. However, sometimes it is hard to gather inspiration for conducting tough interviews. Documentary producers often edit together interviews so most of, if not all, of their questions are not heard in the film. Sometimes I watch interviews in a documentary and wonder how the interviewer was able to make the interviewee respond the way they do. After watching Diane Sawyer conduct the interview with Sue Klebold, I felt inspired because of how powerful Sawyer's interviewing skills are.

Sawyer was not afraid to back down from a question, and she did not sugarcoat her wording in order to make Klebold feel better. She was blunt and often cut off Klebold if she wanted more from the answer. I've seen this (slightly aggressive) technique used before in documentaries, but usually the person conducting the interview is a man, not a woman. In fact, last semester my professor told the class that women are typically better interviewers when you want the interviewee to feel comfortable opening up, but men are better when it comes to asking tough questions that the interviewee may not want to answer. Sawyer left me feeling inspired because she proves that gender does not have to play a role in how tough a person can be as an interviewer. As long as I don't let myself believe I am limited, I can ask the tough questions too.

Thanks D. Sawyer.

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