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    Analyzing Journalist Interview Preferences: Rise of Phone Interviews


    Thanks to technology, Journalists have many options for conducting interviews. Some prefer interviews in person because they want to build a genuine connection, while others prefer phone calls for speed and convenience. When setting up an interview, it’s important to ask the journalist what interview format they prefer.

    We ask all our Coffee With a Journalist guests what interview format they like best, and their answers (and reasons why) are just as unique as they are. As we cruise through 2023, we've chatted up 32 journalists to get the scoop on their interview style of choice. Turns out, 47% are all about phone interviews. 

    Let’s dive into what these 12 journalists had to say about their preferred interview style.


    Remember when Zoom was pretty much the only way we communicated? Now that we have more than just Zoom as an option, some folks are really eager to get back to meeting in person. 

    Sarah Burke is the Editor-in-Chief of Them. Sarah prefers face-to-face meetings when possible. 

    “I just love meeting people in-person. I used to work at an Alt Weekly and I did almost all of my interviews in-person. Again, it's not always possible particularly because of scheduling. But I prefer face-to-face.”


    Kevin Dugan is a finance reporter for Intelligencer; a New York Magazine site covering news and analysis about politics, business and finance, technology, sports, and media. He prefers in-person interviews for personal connections.

    BB: Video, phone, or in-person interview?

    KD: In person. 

    BB: Ooh, why?

    KD: Oh, I think it's just pandemic fatigue. I did so much Zoom, and I just don't like it. I would much rather get to know someone, and I also – there are so many interruptions that happen, Amazon delivery packages. 

    BB: Yes, seriously. 

    KD: It is distracting, and it's hard to get people to open up and talk. So I would like – in general, I don't really even want to do that at all. 

    BB: Okay. So in person if you can make it happen. Oh, by the way, like do you have a preference, like you want to go to a coffee shop? You want to go to office space. What kind of in-person? Back alley? What? 

    KD: I have a zero preference. Honestly, I'm very comfortable anywhere, and I'm happy to go wherever someone is comfortable. 


    Rose Minutaglio is a Senior Editor at ELLE Magazine overseeing features and projects about women's issues. Rose has written for a number of well-known lifestyle publications including Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, and PEOPLE magazine. Rose prefers in-person interviews because she can collect background and contextual information to flesh out her stories. 

    “Oh, for an interview, I always prefer in person. I think you get more color, or what we call them colors. It's just background information or like, what were they wearing or where did you go to eat with that? For an interview, if I'm interviewing the person in person. But like I said, if we're just like – if it's a publicist that I'm meeting with, let's just do email or talk in email.”


    On the other hand, we’re never giving up e-communication. As the second most preferred method for interviews, journalists find that a big perk to video calls is the increased flexibility when arranging their schedules.

    Glossy's senior reporter, Sara Spruch-Feiner, spearheads Glossy Pop, a vertical about the intersection of beauty, fashion, and culture. She also writes the Glossy Pop Newsletter, which you can subscribe to at Sara is a fan of video interviews, which allow her to connect with the subject in a logistically easier way.

    BB: Video, phone, or in-person interview?

    SSF: Video. 

    BB: Why is that?

    SSF: Well, I think that I can't do in person. I don't have time. I would be literally running around the city all day. It's not realistic. But video, I think I can connect with people and –

    BB: See their face. 

    SSF: Yes. I mean, I tend to do three to four a day Zoom videos. 


    Phone Call

    Phone interviews were largely valued by journalists. While video calls have their place, phone interviews are journalists’ preferred method as it facilitates easier note-taking and ease of appearance when you’re not on screen.

    Rebecca Ruiz is a senior reporter at Mashable covering mental health, digital culture, and technology. Rebecca prefers phone interviews to avoid the mental gymnastics of keeping eye contact with their subject on Zoom… while listening… and typing notes. It’s a lot!

    “Phone. I will do video meetings in certain cases, but I type at the same time that I'm recording. So it means I have to keep eye contact with the camera, even though I'm not watching the camera. I find that to be like a big thing. It's a lot of mental gymnastics. So unless it's an off-the-record or on-background conversation, we're just chatting, I really prefer phone.”


    Alexa Mikhail is Fortune's health and wellness reporter covering life, health, mind, family, and more. She prefers phone interviews because they’re easy. 

    “I know. I would say, to be quick, in-person is great, but I honestly do a lot of them over the phone. It's just easier to be able to record and take notes and make it as easy as possible.”


    Jillian Wilson is the wellness reporter at HuffPost. She’s written for The Philadelphia Inquirer, HuffPost, and even had a brief stint as an intern for a PR agency. She prefers the phone because it makes transcriptions much easier. 

    “I have a really good recording software on the phone I use, so it's easiest for me to transcribe after that. Also, being a remote employee, honestly, I'm not always looking my best, so phone is nice.”


    Samantha Maldonado is a senior reporter for climate change at THE CITY, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, digital news platform dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York. Samantha prefers the phone.

    Phoebe Bain is a senior reporter at Ad Age covering influencer marketing and DTC brands. She joined Ad Age from Morning Brew where she helped found the Marketing Brew vertical. Phoebe prefers the phone.


    Riddhi Kanetkar is a startups and VC reporter at Business Insider’s London office. She's interested in covering emerging sectors such as healthtech, with a focus on women's health and mental health, as well as underrepresented founders and VCs in tech, company culture and labor rights, and the gig economy. See what Riddhi likes phone interviews.


    Kathryn Lundstrom is the sustainability editor at Adweek where she covers marketing and advertising news through a climate lens. Kathryn isn’t picky, but likes the simplicity of a phone call.

    “I could go either way. It's more what other people are more comfortable with, but I'm happy with phone all the time. I mean, we don't have to be putting makeup on before we do this.”


    Russell Contreras is the senior race and justice reporter at Axios, where he covers the policies and agencies at the heart of the administration of justice and how it impacts people of color. Russell likes the speed of a phone call. 

    “Phone interviews are quick, fast.”


    Final Count

    If you’re keeping track of the journalist preference tally, that’s three for in-person interviews, eight for phone interviews, and only one for video interviews. In summation, fifteen journalists prefer phone interviews, while eleven are sticking with the video route. Three preferred in-person, and three are pretty chill with either.

    Looks like Zoom fatigue is real, and phone calls are in! 

    From an agency reporter to senior editors, learn how to pitch journalists on #CoffeeWithAJournalist.



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