Workshop: How to convince people to tell you (almost) everything


The following workshop is presented by the QWF and the Montreal Press Club.


Saturday, May 7, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
1200 Atwater Avenue, Suite 3 (Atwater Library)
Workshop leader: Harvey Cashore
Cost: $80 for QWF and MPC members; $90 for non-members

For more information, or to register: 514-933-0878 or
Maximum number of participants: 12 (first come, first served)

In the Internet age, where so much information can be found with a simple Google search, the research interview has, perhaps, become a bit of a dinosaur. In my interviewing workshop, I argue that mastering that seemingly old-fashioned skill is what will set journalists apart from their colleagues – and produce results far beyond anything that might be found on the Internet.

That’s because a well-crafted interview can help convince people to reveal information they might otherwise have never disclosed

So what’s the secret to a good interview?

This workshop seeks to unlock the mysteries of a successful interview, both on a macro and micro level. Participants will study the “arc” and strategic thinking behind a good research interview, and how to structure the conversation in a way that builds trust and encourages transparency. Conversely participants will break down components of the questions themselves, and understand that, just as with the written word, every word matters. One ill-chosen word can sink an interview; yet one well-placed word can do just the opposite.

Participants for the day-long workshop will be asked to arrive with a topic, or story idea, and list of possible questions (throughout the day we will refer back to these question lists).

In the morning session we will watch video clips and dissect why certain questions worked better than others. I will draw upon my fifth estate experience to show video of how carefully worded questions were directly responsible for headline news revelations. Along the way we will develop a list of “hard-working” questions, compare them with “lazy” questions – and seek to understand the difference.

The afternoon session will build on the specific examples learned from the morning and move towards strategic overview – not just about how to ask a question, but in what order to ask those questions. And perhaps just as important we’ll learn when not to ask a question.

Finally, the workshop will explore how to convince even the most reluctant person to speak to you. I’ll show examples from my work at the fifth estate to show that with the right approach even the most unlikely people might agree to talk – and even provide you with important new information for your story.

At the end of the day, participants should not only come away with a theoretical understanding of what makes a good research interview (and how to convince someone to talk in the first place) but also leave equipped with a specific approach to questions that can be put into practice immediately – and yield terrific results.

Harvey Cashore is Senior Producer of CBC News’ Investigative Content Unit. He is the author of The Truth Shows Up, his first-hand account of the Fifth Estate’s investigation into the Airbus affair, which led to revelations that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney received cash payments from middleman Karlheinz Schreiber. Cashore is also known for his exposé into stolen lottery tickets, after revealing that store clerks in Ontario were “winning” major lotteries far more than statistically possible. Cashore has won numerous awards, including the CAJ’s Don McGillivray Award for investigative journalism, the Justicia Award, and a Gemini award for best direction in a news information programme. His work also contributed to a fifth estate a Michener award. Cashore, who lives in Toronto, has been a guest lecturer at Ryerson University where he has taught seminars on research methods and investigative reporting.

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