This is an excerpt from Sports Broadcasting With HKPropel Access by Kevin Hull.
In 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic forced sports journalists to add a new type of interview to their options. With social distancing dictating that people stay at least six feet apart from each other, media members were banned from the locker room and all in-person press conferences were canceled. Instead, interviews were taking place over video-conferencing software. The players and coaches would sit in one room while the media members would sit in various locations away from the players. This took away from the face-to-face interaction but still allowed for the media to speak to the athletes.
Mitch Brown, a sports broadcaster in Lexington, Kentucky, found himself doing distance interviews with athletes and coaches throughout the summer of 2020. He said the setup certainly was not as intimate as a face-to-face interview because more people were there and, at times, questions can be interpreted differently through a screen. However, Brown also said that there are some positives to this format: “Honestly, people on the other side getting interviewed are a lot more comfortable. They’re usually at home or in a room by themselves, so they don’t have all these eyes watching them physically. On Zoom, they have time to process the question and gather their thoughts as opposed to feeling like they need to answer it instantly.” He also cited an advantage for the broadcasters themselves: “It’s not bad being on your couch and doing an interview.”
While the sessions are taking place in different locations, the skills needed to have successful distance interviews are not much different from those used for an in-person interview. When multiple media members are present, broadcasters should treat these distance interviews similarly to group interviews or press conferences. If it is a one-on-one interview, completing the interview as if it is a solo interview is advisable.