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QUAL Speaker Series | Matthew Powers: What Interviews Are Good For
QUAL Speaker Series | Matthew Powers: What Interviews Are Good For
WhenWednesday, Nov 15, 2017, 12:30 – 1:20 p.m.
Campus locationThomson Hall (THO)
Campus room317
Event typesLectures/Seminars

What Interviews Are Good For

Interviews--whether open-ended or semi-structured--are regularly used to gather accounts of, explanations for and sentiments regarding individual or group behavior. Yet the technique is also criticized, either for too easily equating discourse with action or for lacking in generalizability. In this talk, I highlight the strengths and limitations of interviews as a methodological technique. To do so, I draw on research that relies primarily but not exclusively on interviews with journalists in France and the United States. In addition to their routinely acknowledged uses, I suggest that one promise of interviews is their potential to allow interviewees to lose control of their own discourse and thus provide insights not easily gathered through other techniques (observational or otherwise). At the same time, I point out that interview samples are often comprised to an important extent by individuals who feel as if they have something to say, thus leaving out many other perspectives from the sample. Rather than remove the biases, I suggest practical steps for mitigating them throughout the course of the research process.

Matthew Powers is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication. His research interests include journalism studies, political communication and comparative media, and his writings have been published in Journal of Communication, Communication Research and International Journal of Press/Politics, among others.

At present, he is working on two projects. The first examines the role of humanitarian and human rights NGOs as information providers in the changing landscape of international news. The second project is a comparative analysis of metropolitan journalism in France and the United States. Powers received his Ph.D. in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. He teaches graduate and undergraduate classes on qualitative research methods, comparative media, and communication ethics. Before entering the academy, he worked as a journalist at the Burlington Free Press in Vermont.…
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