Journalists could experience life impacting or life & death situations
This article pays attention to; the whistle-blower, the fixer, the interviewee and the methods used to vet and validate authenticity.
Journalists may pride themselves on their ability to read people, but what if the other person can read the journalist better? Hostage negotiators and undercover operatives cannot afford to compromise their mission. Consequently, it is imperative they know the implications of acquiring a specific skill-set and master the skill-craft of deception detection and investigative interviewing.
Journalists may be provided a lead to an award winning story by an informant – whistle-blower or to seek out a contact or fixer to set up a meeting with the person of interest. The term fixer is used by conflict – war correspondents who set up interviews with a specific spokesperson. But how would the reporter know if it is an authentic and safe assignment to follow up on.There are instances when journalists could seek out a contact or is approached by someone for various reasons and some of them may not be noble, as the journalists may be led into a situation where they could be extorted, kidnapped, raped or murdered.
The ‘first person linked’ to the story who must be vetted is the whistle-blower, informant, contact or fixer. The professional journalist has to be able to detect if the source is lying or hiding something. Furthermore, the reporter must clarify why information is being volunteered as it may be to further their own agenda. Knowing what the source’s agenda is, would save a lot of time, effort, and disappointment.
People lie, hide or share information. As the validity of the information is paramount, managing the emotions of interviewees is crucial,not only to extract reliable information, but also to gather ALL the information and/or to determine why the interviewee is volunteering information.
Journalists learn many forms of interviewing methods, however, in the changing security climate of the world today there other issues that must be taken into account today which have not been necessary until now using new sets of skills
A vital component of the interview is the awareness and understanding of cultural diversity. However, applying this knowledge to deception detection and investigative interviewing is quite different. A fine example is when interviewing the ‘person of interest’ from Northern Europe and that individual has hands folded over his or her chest. This does not indicate that this person is being defensive which may be the initial understanding of the journalist. In fact within this person’s cultural framework it displays ‘paying attention’. Subsequently, misinterpreting the person could lead to a line of questioning which would be unsuccessful. The journalist could easily misinterpret or be misunderstood by the interviewee and report stories based on insufficient and unreliable information which may lead to chaos.
Journalists today must be as professional as heart surgeons who hold the lives of others in their hands. Learning the techniques and mastering the skill of reading people using deception detection will provide the journalist with his or her scalpel.
Using investigative interviewing techniques with the knowledge, awareness and understanding of cultural diversity will arm today’s journalists with an exceptional edge.