Auburn Media Training Download: How to give & get an interview
By Kellie Anderson-Picallo
February 29, 2012

Great interviewers are frequently great interviewees - and vice versa.

So in this Auburn Media Download, we'll take on both sides of the equation: how to give and conduct a good interview.

Below, you'll find out how Auburn Media Training alumn Wajahat Ali became a prominent voice on the Lowe's / American Muslim controversy in The New York Times with one good quote - just 33 words to be exact. (That's fewer words than there are in this paragraph!)

We were inspired by an Ask Auburn Media query about how to capture powerful faith stories in interviews. Our Director of Media and Education Kellie Anderson-Picallo, an award-winning television producer and writer who earned her stripes at PBS before joining our team, shares three great video interview tips in this Auburn Media Download.

Power to you,
Macky Alston
Senior Director
Auburn Media & Communications

PS: I'm thrilled to share with you that my new film LOVE FREE OR DIE won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Check out a clip from the awards ceremony, as well as a few from the film, at

We're sharing the film, which tells the story of openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson, in screenings across the country to help conflicted hearts and minds support LGBT equality. Find a screening near you or organize one at your house of worship or community center at the LOVE FREE OR DIE Web site.

What's News

Reproductive rights and faith are front page news. In "What the contraception controversy taught us about religion in America," Dr. Robert Jones pulls out the four most important insights from the most recent Public Religion Institutes survey on how faith traditions are polling on the issue.

Religion and politics are always a topic on the new MSNBC "Melissa Harris-Perry" weekend show. Check out the video of her debut show on how media's "premature speculation" affects elections and democracy.

Pop Culture

A step-by-step walk through with screen shots of how to deliver worship materials to mobile devices using QR codes.

A Muslim modeling agency promotes modesty on the Fashion Week catwalk.

A Lin-teresting article on what Jeremy Lin means to Asian American Christians.

How to deliver worship materials to mobile devices using QR Codes   Muslim model agency supports modesty on the catwalk   What Jeremy Lin Means to Asian American Christians

All it takes is one good quote

San Francisco-based Wajahat Ali is an Auburn Media Training alum, and a playwright, attorney and commentator on post 9-11 Muslim American identity and politics, multicultural art and activism, and New Media Journalism.

In December, Ali was one of the grassroots organizers of a coalition of bloggers who drew attention to the decision by Lowe's Home Improvement to pull advertising from the popular TLC reality show All-American Muslim after pressure from an anti-Muslim fundamentalist group called the Florida Family Association.

The astonishing part: the group that intimidated a national corporation has only one employee.

Wajahat AliIt was Ali's quote about the Florida Family Association in The New York Times that made him a national spokesperson and propelled his message to dozens of news outlets around the country. What was the quote?

"It's literally one dude with a poorly made Web site, one fringe individual with an e-mail list," Mr. Ali said. "But by parroting the talking points created by this incestuous network, he's triggered a national crisis."

An Auburn Media Tip from Macky: "Look how Wajahat used everyday language to make such an important news story accessible. For Wajahat, 'dude' was an authentic and tongue-in-cheek turn of phrase and it absolutely worked. Remember to always message around your own clear and authentic ideas and language to make your point."

You can read The New York Times article "Waging a One-Man War on American Muslims" online.

Wajahat Ali is currently writing an upcoming HBO series about a Muslim cop in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @wajahatali.

Ask Auburn Media: How to conduct a good interview

Auburn Media Training alum Kat Banakis, the Community Connector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Evanston, Illinois, wanted to do video interviews with church members. Her challenge: many had never done an "interview."

Here are a three simple tips for capturing powerful stories in video interviews from Auburn Media's Director of Media and Education Kellie Anderson-Picallo:

• Consider a pre-interview over the phone before the taping.
An advance 20-minute conversation can be a chance to really listen to the person you are interviewing. Ask a few questions in advance to find the strongest stories and you may get a much better story than the one you were headed toward.
• Film until you get what you want. Explain to the interviewee that you might ask the same question a few times. This gives you a chance to have a few options for editing.
• Enlist a helping hand. When the day of the video interview arrives, consider bringing a friend or colleague so you don't have to ask questions and run camera at the same time. This way you can chat while the camera is being set up to put the person at ease and establish easy conversation.

Ted Talk: Why Videos Go ViralAuburn Media Tip:
Kat and her team plan to edit the interviews using easily available software. Not sure how to edit video that you shoot? A great resource is YouTube's Video Editor. Plus, check out a TED Talk from Kevin Allocca, YouTube's trends manager, on why videos go viral.

Do you have a media or digital quandary? Email us at and we'll help you craft strategies that work. Plus, you can be featured in our next Download!

Book Your Auburn Media Training Workshop
How can your ministry, organization or faith leader use media more effectively? To book your full-day or half-day Auburn Media Training, please email me!

Plus, introduce Auburn Media Training to your friends, networks and favorite social justice organizations to invest in bold leaders who use media to trouble the waters and heal the world.

Rev. Kellie Anderson-Picallo
Director of Media and Education
Auburn Seminary

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