Oral History Interview Essay Example
Oral History Interview Essay Example

Oral History Interview Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1648 words)
  • Published: May 28, 2017
  • Type: Case Study
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A Guide Doing an oral history interview is a fantastic way to learn about the past. From a screen historical perspective, it gives you unique and valuable insight into the way the movies have changed. And it gives you a fun, “real-world” opportunity to compare the movie-going of yesteryear with the experience we know today. What’s the best way to go about conducting an oral history interview? Today we’ll take you through the process, step-by-step, for conducting an interview for use in Assessment Item 1, the Interview-Based Report.

Step 1: Preparation

Good preparation is essential to getting the most out of your oral history interview.

Start by asking yourself some key questions – What do I want from this interview? What is the primary data I need for comparison in my report? What do I need in order to prepare myself prope


rly for this interview? Identifying what it is you’re looking for will help you to frame your enquiry better, and locate the best interviewee. In your Preparation phase, it’s a good idea to develop some draft questions geared towards getting you the answers you need.

Step 2: Locating the Interviewee

What you’re looking for in an interviewee is someone who:

A) Has been to the movies prior to 1975

B) Has a good memory and can recall those experiences

C) Is a good talker and able to share those experiences with you in the interview.

Many students find the best interviewee for their Interview-Based Report is a family member, or close family friend. Ask around and see if there’s anyone your friends and family can suggest. Someone who loved going to the movies will almost always make for a great interviewee! Another optio

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is to seek ut someone who was involved with the movies – a cinema projectionist, cinema manager or owner, or even an usher or usherette, who can share with you their special insights about what movie-going was like in their day.

If you’re having trouble locating an interviewee amongst your immediate friends and family, you may like to seek an interview with another member of your community – a justice of the peace, a librarian, people working in bookstores or involved with community organisations such as Rotary, who may be able to help you with your moviegoing interview.Consider putting a notice on a community noticeboard or in the newspaper, and you should have no trouble with finding someone to talk to! Remember – not only does this assignment offer really exciting potential for your communications research skills, it’s amazing how much this activity of talking to someone about times gone by, can broaden your mind, and help you appreciate and understand, the recent past.

Step 3: Pre-Interview

In the pre-interview stage, you should contact your interviewee and tell them what you plan to talk to them about.This gives you a chance to ensure that they can recall the material you’re seeking details about, and also serves to kick-start their memories of those experiences you want to hear about.

Develop your questions using the ones suggested in the Unit Outline, remembering that you should ask plenty of questions in order to have a rich bank of raw material to analyse in your Report. It’s up to you how many questions you ask, and it’s good idea to have more than you think you will need in case your interviewee can’t

answer some of them.Most students go into the interview “armed” with between 20 and 30 questions ready to ask! What form should an interview take? There are several ways you can conduct an interview that will provide you with detailed information for your discussion. In general, giving an interviewee a questionnaire to fill out, either on paper or over email, is adequate, but not ideal – it doesn’t give you much space to follow up with the interviewee, is dependent on their written communication skills, and will result in brief comments that are less useful for integrating into your analysis.

Researchers only use a written questionnaire as a last resort, or a first stage, for interviewing. An in-person interview can take place face-to-face, over Skype or another video-chat program, or over the phone. Face to face and over video chat are ideal because they allow you easily record the interview on your mobile phone or another device and also to pursue follow-up questions as they come up in your discussion. Another option is to use an instant messaging system like Facebook or Gmail Chat.This has certain advantages, in that the material is already written and saves you time in transcription and, being live, allows you pursue other lines of investigation with follow up.

But it also has certain disadvantages, chiefly that many older people aren’t familiar with these sorts of programs, and that the process itself depends on someone being able to articulate themselves rapidly through typing. Most people are better at talking about their experience, than typing or writing, so an in-person oral history interview is still the ideal way to do your interview for this

assignment.Before you undertake your interview, your preparation should also include checking through your questions and testing your recording equipment (if doing an in-person interview). Remember that batteries can and will always fail at the most inconvenient time - so ensure you have spare batteries if using a sound recording device, and make sure your phone is fully charged.

Do a couple of playback tests to ensure that the sound is clear enough for you to use in your analysis. Remember the motto – Victory Loves Preparation!

Step 4: Interview

When it comes time to conduct your interview, remember to start by thanking your interviewee for their time and assistance with your assessment item. It always helps if show that you are genuinely interested in their experience - and will mean you get better material, so make sure you smile and make your interview subject feel valued at the outset of the interview. Do a playback test to ensure your equipment is working (and remember to check on the recording device regularly during the interview process to ensure it’s still going! . Have your interview questions printed out and in front of you so that you can refer to them and make notes during the process.

It helps if you start the formal interview by reminding the interviewee that you’re looking to hear about their experiences of going to the movies prior to 1975 and give them a sense of the broad areas you’ll be exploring in the interview. Then begin by asking them to state their name, and the first cinema they can remember attending, or their first memory of going to the movies. Or, you can help to

the ball rolling by asking them about the first movie they can recall seeing, and take things from there. Again, remember that you are looking to gather more raw material than you can feasibly use in your analysis – it’s far better to have more than you need and have the luxury of choosing your strongest material for analysis, than to feel you’ve got to scrape together an essay discussion from not very much interview data. Don’t worry if you ask a few questions that don’t seem to relate to the work we’re studying in the course, since these may prove useful later in your discussion anyway.

Be alert during their responses – and try to follow up if your interviewee seems to have more to say on a subject, or recalls something interesting. It’s a good idea to be flexible, and be prepared to stray from your fixed agenda if you think it will help you get the best material! Above all, during the interview, be listening out for comments that you know you can relate to the course material studied when it comes to doing your analysis in the Report.

Step 5: Review and Transcribe

After you’ve completed the interview, it is essential that you review the interview material as soon as possible, while it’s fresh in your mind. Try not to leave it more than a day as the sooner you revisit it, the better you will be able to work with it. When you revisit the recording, don’t transcribe everything – rather, listen through it and make a log or list of key timecodes where interesting or useful discussion occurs.

Then you can go back

and use these logged moments when you are writing up your analysis.You only need transcribe the relevant parts of your interview when you’re preparing your essay discussion in order to show that you’re quoting correctly and to show your marker how you’ve worked with this raw material in your comparative analysis. Reviewing is also essential to ensure that your recording hasn’t encountered any glitches and that you can hear the interviewee’s responses clearly enough to work with them later.

Step 6: Courtesy and Follow-up

The final step in your interview process should be to follow up with your interviewee with a brief phone call or even a thank you card.This is a key part of any interview protocol as it shows you are grateful for the person’s time, and it’s a thoughtful touch that will always be appreciated.

It’s a nice idea to let them know when you’ve finished your essay and are submitting it, and you may want to offer them a copy so they can see how you’ve used their experiences in your discussion. Above all, remember to be courteous and considerate throughout your dealings with your interviewee – not only is it a good habit to be in, but it will ensure you get the best material possible to work with in your Interview-Based Report!

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