TWC Talk: Frank Sesno on The Power of Questions
Frank Sesno, Director and Professor of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University and longtime contributor at CNN, recently spoke at The Washington Center. The focus was Senso’s new book: Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change.
What should journalists think about in asking questions?
Asking great questions is terrific but if you don’t listen to the answer, it’s a waste of time.
Journalists interview differently depending on who they are talking to and what is being sought. It’s important to know your guest and what your audience wants to know.
Research how your subject responds to questions. Think about how you’re promoting yourself and your brand by phrasing the question.
Compound questions are a big mistake. Be very specific. Ask one question and know what the follow up will be.
How can asking yourself the right questions be beneficial?
It’s important to swing for the fences by asking yourself where exactly you want to want go. Ask yourself if you were completely successful in ten years, where would you be? Asking these aspirational questions and working backwards is an effective way to identify and overcome obstacles.
How should the news media cover the Trump presidency?
The news media needs to be respectful adversaries. They must be calm and persistent. Trump has created a very confrontational environment because of his attitude toward the media. Reporters are stepping into that and interacting in different ways.
Serious news organizations know this is a serious business. They’ve never been up against anything like this before. The president is trying to belittle and demean the press, which makes it personal. He’s trying to manage criticism past, present, and future. The most important thing journalists have is their credibility.