Malcolm X, the Playboy Interview

800px-Malcolm_X_NYWTS_2aSometime in the next few days, you are going to be conducting an interview–either formally with the subject of your Profile Essay or informally with people you meet.

I wanted to key you into this great interview of Malcolm X, which was conducted in 1963 by Alex Haley for Playboy Magazine. Not only is this particular moment important for Malcolm X who was at the height of his power and idealism at that moment, but it is a solid example of how to conduct an interesting and informative interview.

Notice how Haley puts Malcolm X at ease, alternating between easy questions Malcolm X wants to answer and hard questions that challenge him. He never takes Malcolm X at his first word, but pushes, with tact and respect, to find a deeper answer.

Unfortunately, this interview was never turned into a profile; however, for you, it provides an insight into how professional journalists set-up for writing a good essay. When you interview your subject, remember that their first answer might not be enough. Everyone performs a role, and we have a vested interest in maintaining it.

[Photo by Ed Ford, which can be found here, and used under creative commons]

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Schedule, Week 4: 4/18-4/22

Monday, April 18th: Profiling the Profile

  • Homework Due:
  • Benchmarks for Paper (suggested, not evaluated):
    • Brainstorm groups on campus or places you could profile. This may require some searching online—look at events pages, campus maps, advertisement posters, etc.

Wednesday, April 20th: Interviews

  • Homework
    • BP: Post 6 | Interview Yourself
    • Watch:
      • Elon Musk and Stephen Colbert (for the Colbert Report)–Part 1, Part 2
      • Elon Musk and Stephen Colbert (for The Late Show) {this is a clip from the full interview, which isn’t available legally… but you can feel free to Google it… I just can’t tell you to.}
    • Discussion Questions:
      • Compare and contrast the interview style of the two different versions of Stephen Colbert. How does he (or not) put Musk at ease?
      • What do you think Colbert’s mission was in each interview? What was he trying to achieve?
      • How did Musk react in each interview? What made the difference?
  • Benchmarks for Paper (suggested, not evaluated)
    • The homework for today is SUPER easy on purpose: You need to be working on your paper.
    • Solidify your paper topic. Begin researching for your interview—find background information on the person or type of people you plan on interviewing. If it is one particular person, schedule your interview and prepare questions.

Friday, April 22nd: Field Reports

[NOTE: We are going outside today, so dress for the weather!]

  • Homework
    • BP: Post 7 | Our Rooms
    • Listen:
    • Discussion Questions:
      • Both of the stories in the podcast take place in a zoo. How do each of these zoos differ? Mirroring the language in the podcast (meaning find specific phrases they actually use in the podcast), how is each zoo described?
      • What is the tone of each story? How does the reporter convey this tone in their story? Don’t forget to take into account the words used, the narrative structure, and the use of senses.
      • How would you have to rework each story to make it just as influential in a written medium?
  • Benchmarks for Paper (suggested, not evaluated)
    • Over the weekend complete your interview(s) and field observations. Next week we are focusing on writing, so make sure all of your research is complete.