FEATURE INTERVIEW: "Your chance
to meet the real..."
Notes by Chris Horrie
A very attractive format to students because it is GONZO and
features the journalist as star.
You will see a lot of "n-th" rate feature interviews
all over the consumer press and semi-professional fanzine derived
media. Most entertainment radio and TV (where there
are celebrity presenters, etc) use a type of feature-interview
approach - from Saturday morning kids TV and the Big Breakfast,
through to the Parkinson Show and (in a way) Paxman - it is
all about the presenter/writer being wonderfully clever and
One of the main practitioners in print is Lynn Barber - who
does her "performance" journalism in the Observer
and elsewhere - and very good it is too as an example of the
format. It is surprising that there is no Lynn Barber show
on TV. Possibly this is because she is not telegenic enough
to compete with, for example, Ian Wright the ex-Arsenal footballer
turned "feature interview" expert.
There is an example of Lynn Barber's work here.
Almost inevitably the "interview" is in fact an account
of the great LB having lunch with Graham Norton. She chucks
in a few facts about Norton - thus muddling the style with
a profile. It is entertaining writing but - as is normal with
this style - we end up knowing more about LB than the subject.
It is all PR driven - GN has a new show to plug.
The origins of this type of format was the "New Journalism" movement
in New York in the '60s and was especially associated with
Andy Warhol's "underground" magazine INTERVIEW in
the 1970s. Hunter S
Thompson, for example, once famously interviewed President
Nixon and spoke only about American football, beer and things
like that... and this was at the height of the Vietnam war.
So it is all very fashionable in both approach and content.
It is entertaining, and therefore has its place. The important
thing is not to mix this style with "proper" profile
writing (as students in the past have done) just because you
have seen it on the telly.
We would not be human if we did not want to have our own column
consisting of of what we said to various members of the jet
set during lunch at the Ivy. But we don't really need to go
to college to study how to do that.
TV equivalents: Live 'n' Kickin'; Mrs Merton; Parkinson...
and Graham Norton.
back to BA Journalism
back to MA Journalism