An interview by a newspaper, radio or TV journalist is a great opportunity to communicate what you believe, to a wide audience. If you're not acquainted with interview technique, however, it can turn out to be a missed opportunity.
YOUR AIM IS TO COMMUNICATE YOUR MESSAGE
Your aim is not, primarily, to answer his questions. Your aim is to get your message across, clearly, concisely and repeatedly. You need to go into each interview with a mental list of the main points that you must convey, and make sure that you say them, again, and again and again, if necessary.
CHOOSE YOUR GROUND
If the interviewer is hostile, then he will try to lead you through his minefield. That's ground you don't want to walk on. Your job is to ignore, brush aside or turn around all questions intended to harm you.
TAKE CONTROL OF THE INTERVIEW
There is no requirement for you to oblige any line of questioning. You are free to say whatever you want.
Don't find yourself saying, "May I suggest you ask me why I believe...rather than asking me about..." Why wait for him to ask you what you want to talk about? Just talk about it, regardless of what he is asking.
ENLIST "THE PEOPLE"
For example, "The vast majority of people in this country agree that we must have..." Thereby, instead of speaking only for yourself, you are perceived as speaking for millions.
MAKE IT REAL FOR THE PEOPLE
It is the reader, listener or viewer with whom you are aiming to communicate and convince -- not the interviewer.
Therefore, frame the issue in terms of how it affects the people reading, listening or viewing. Your concerns are their concerns. You're speaking for them, and you're defending them.
I once heard a person, who had been convicted of an alleged crime, complaining at length about the injustice he personally had suffered. After a while, one began to think "Who Cares?" He wasn't convincing anybody.
However, if he had concentrated on how the injustice which he suffered had serious implications for the freedom of the listeners, then he would have won many new supporters. People would have pricked up their ears and said, "Hey, he's speaking for me!"
"Would you say...?", "Are you saying...?"
Journalists can preface their comments with such a statement, and unless you repudiate it, then they may write it up as your own words. Therefore, you must make clear that a) those are his words, not yours and b) give him a quote direct from your lips.
A hostile journalist can sometimes inject long pauses into his interview. This is intended to get you to say something, which may be indiscreet, just to break the silence. This is common on telephone interviews. Be conscious of the technique, keep to your message and if you are on air, use every second to communicate your message.
Be aware of false friendliness from journalists, intended to get you to say something indiscreet by luring you into a false sense of familiarity. He may even reveal something apparently personal about himself in the expectation that you will too.
HANDLING HOSTILE INTERVIEWS
If the interviewer is hostile and offensive, don't lose your temper. You are there to have a good time getting your points across at his expense and frustration.
DON'T BE DEFENSIVE
A hostile interviewer will try to make you look like you've got something to apologise for. He wants to see you -- in the words of the song -- grovel, grovel, cringe, bow, stoop, fall...worship, worship, beg, kneel, sponge, crawl...before his wonderous majesty. I once even heard an interviewer try to get someone to "say sorry" on air.
Don't labour with a "defence". Dismiss it quickly and get on with talking about what you want to talk about.
Constantly trying to "justify" or "defend" yourself, or "deny" something he is saying, simply validates the particular moral universe, which he patrols, and which seeks to condemn and imprison you.
PAINT YOUR OWN MORAL CANVAS
Instead, build up your own standards of morality for the readers, listeners and viewers to appreciate.
For example, if he is condemning you for your opinions on law and order, you can reply, "I'll tell you what is right and proper. It is right and proper that the people of this community have the ability to walk the streets without fear. Your policies amount to a criminals' charter. That's wrong and, frankly, irresponsible."
If he accuses you of once dancing with a woman, who danced with a man, who danced with a woman, who danced with a certain man, and if you respond in tones of outraged denial, then, again, you legitimise the moral universe, which he patrols. You reinforce his power over you.
However, if you say, "Don't tell me who I can dance with?" then you immediately create an alternative moral universe with new standards of right and wrong -- which you police ...and he's just been kicked out.
In this birthing, there is great power. You free your mind from the old, constraining, debilitating and defeating moral universe -- which your opponent patrolled and which worked only to condemn and imprison you.
Every time you challenge, ridicule or ignore his sanctimony, you cause his moral universe to tremble. Every time you raise up your standards as the pre-eminent standards against which to judge right and wrong, you hasten the triumph of your values.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO ANSWER THE QUESTION
Don't fear that you will "look bad" if you avoid the question. If you are trying to get your point across, and if you are constantly stressing the urgency and importance of your point -- which he is trying to prevent you from expressing -- then the viewer will soon focus upon the hostile interviewer as the person who is being unreasonable.
EXAMPLES OF HOSTILE QUESTIONS
"You once called Mr X a xxxxx xxxxx ... Do you think that is appropriate language?"
(Brush aside the question which is intended to get you on the defensive. Go on the attack) "What is highly inappropriate and insulting to the people of this country (enlist the people), is the attitude of Mr X who believes he can threaten all law abiding people, who happen to disagree with him, with the prospect of a jail sentence. We believe..."
"So you think it was appropriate to refer to Mr X as a xxxxx xxxxx"
"I think Mr X is perfectly capable of defending himself. (Change the subject. Remember that you have no obligation to indulge any particular line of questioning. Take control and get your message across) What is most important to mention at this stage, is the positive and supportive response which our message has been receiving. Indeed, I would like to emphasise that we advocate..."
"Will you apologise...will you say sorry?"
"I think you should apologise for asking such a silly question. It is the people whose policies have been destroying this country for 25 years, who should say sorry. Your line of questioning is completely missing the real issues which are facing the people of this country, and which we all, as responsible and concerned individuals, have an obligation to address. For example..."
"But surely, you are an abomination who should have been drowned at birth"
"I think that is an admission that you've lost the argument... Sir."