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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Steven G Scher
COM 495
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in Communication

Lecture, seminar, and/or team study. Topics vary.

Class description

The interview is at the heart of journalism. To get a story, we have to talk to people and to get them talking, honestly, can take skill. We will study some of the skills necessary to get a person to tell you what you need to know. You will learn to recognize when they are avoiding your questions, answering their own questions and even lying. Every person is unique and we will explore the different styles that people have for asking and answering questions. We will talk about research, preparation and execution. We will explore the thinking that goes in to framing a question, controlling an interview and turning those interviews into useful stories. The interviewer and the interviewee come to the discussion with preset notions that reflect personal, social and cultural differences. Learning to recognize your own and other peoples assumptions, learning to read their concerns in their body language, their eye contact and their language will make you a better interviewer and a more confident communicator

Student learning goals

Plan and Prepare for a variety of interviews

Ask questions in a manner that will lead you to needed information

Understand different interviewing techniques and know when each is appropriate

Appreciate the ethical dilemmas involved in probing interviews and know how to respond

General method of instruction

This class will rely heavily on practical experience. At the end of the quarter you will have explored a variety of interviewing scenarios and hopefully honed your skill in asking questions, probing deeper and finding the emotional core of a personís story.

There wil be an emphasis on assignments, rather than exams, a focus on class participation, analysis and critiques.

Recommended preparation

Willingness to prepare, listening skills, empathy.

Class assignments and grading

A hands-on approach will be taken with most assignments. We will practice in class and execute interviews outside class. These will be reviewed and analyzed.

Grades will be based on traditional grading system of the UW.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Steven G Scher
Date: 03/08/2009