"No Tape Recording, No Written Notes"

Kenneth Harris, The Observer
Kenneth Harris, The Observer.

Kenneth Harris broke two of the so-called rules of journalism.

1. He didn’t make notes, or any kind of tape recording.
2. He allowed his interviewees to read his words before publication.

I’m full of admiration, to be honest.

I feel a certain affinity with his conversational style: “My ignorance, not my knowledge, has got me my success as an interviewer. I am naive, curious, but I don’t have much knowledge.”

Others have operate(d) differently – and I admire many of them, too – but Harris’s collaborative, impressionistic approach is valuable in the mix of journalistic interviewing.

I got much of this insight into Harris from a book that had a huge influence on me, coming out as it did when I was a young journalist: The Penguin Book of Interviews, edited by Christopher Silvester.

Click to enlarge.