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Is the Phone or Email Better for Interviews?

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Another flash fire seems to have flared up in the blogosphere over interviews with reporters: Jason Calacanis says he won’t do an interview with Wired unless they can do it by email, and says this is ironic (in an Alanis Morrisette kind of way, I’m assuming). Dave Winer says he likes to do interviews via his blog because it’s too easy to be misquoted.

interviewer

Mike Arrington, meanwhile, seems more than a little bemused to be the spark for this little journalistic contretemps, which apparently started with some interviews for a story involving him, and figures Wired probably won’t do the story now. And Wired makes fun of the whole “ironic” thing in a blog post, pointing out that it plans to get some pneumatic tubes installed so it can be more hip. Some people, including James Robertson and Dan Gillmor, don’t think Wired’s response was too funny.

Funny or not, the thing I can’t get my head around is why the writer didn’t want to do an email interview. I love it when people want to do email interviews, because it’s a lot faster, and you know you’re going to get what you want without as much potential for misunderstanding . And I can see why certain people — like Mark Cuban, for example — like to do it that way, so that they don’t have their words twisted (yes, that occasionally happens in journalism).

Ian Betteridge makes a good point in his post, which is that a phone interview can produce something different than an email interview because the discussion can go in different directions. And that is definitely true. But there’s a lot to be said for the speed and accuracy that email brings too.

Update:

The Wired writer, Fred Vogelstein, has responded to Jason and the kerfuffle (or is it a brouhaha?) on the Epicenter blog, and has posted the email trail with Calacanis. Ironically, he says that he doesn’t do email interviews because there’s too much room for interpretation — but he agreed to call Jason and tape the interview and then send him the file. Jason’s reaction is here.

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