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Teaching TV interviews in Vietnam

DW Akademie trainer Dieter Herrmann (right) in Vietnam

A good interview should be informative, authentic, credible and sometimes even surprising. In the past two weeks, the participants in our workshop ‘Advanced Interview Training’ were able to discover the special benefits of this journalistic format.

Together with my colleague Uli Köhler, I am training journalists in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. Our 15 trainees  work for Vietnam Television (VTV). Most of them are reporters in Hanoi, but we’ve also got the VTV correspondents to Russia and to China in our group. All of our participants are keen to learn more about conducting interviews and recording vox pops.

As Uli and I will leave Vietnam in a couple of days, the trainees are now working on their final productions. Their topic is ‘same-sex marriage in Vietnam’. They chose this topic themselves after an hour-long discussion.

Controversy and discussion about gay marriage

Why did they opt for a controversial issue like that? Because the law on same-sex partnerships in Vietnam will be changed soon and there is a lot of discussion in the country right now.

Interview training VietnamWorking on a contentious topic like same-sex marriage is quite a challenge in an Asian country like Vietnam. But our  participants managed to find a number of interview partners like experts, officials, and of course some gay people as well. With some of them, it was hard work to get good answers on camera – or even just to get them to talk.

Surprisingly for all of us, it was no problem at all to get some really interesting vox pops.

Vox pop in Hanoi

Lots of people in the streets of Hanoi were willing to talk openly about gay marriage. Some were strongly opposed, others were strongly in favor of the idea – just like anywhere else in the world. But what I find interesting in Hanoi is that homosexuality itself doesn’t seem to be taboo at all.

As far as the work-flow in the production of our vox pops was concerned, our expectations were totally different than what we encountered in reality. We originally thought that we would have to record at least 20 to 30 statements from passers-by to end up with four or five sound bites that would be usable  for broadcast. Vox pop in Hanoi, VietnamBut that’s not the way it turned out at all. In fact, almost all of the statements we recorded for our vox pops were clearly understandable and very usable.

As I write this, our three groups of trainees are busy editing their vox pops. And it’s already becoming obvious that each of them will be proud to show their productions during the closing ceremony of this workshop with VTV at the end of this week.

Author: Dieter Herrmann