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Lessons from the Lew interview

14/05/2011 16:29

After several rounds of talks, and indeed, compromise between Democrats and Republicans, a potential government shutdown was averted, but the issues at stake at the time - budget cuts and the debt crisis have not since simmered down.


I had watched several news analysis on T.V. and had got accustomed to three names - John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, a leading Republican figure leading the push for cuts in the budget, and of course, President Barack Obama, whose administration was in the thick of it all.


But that morning, when I got to the newsroom, Antonio Fins, my mentor and the editorial page editor, mentioned a name I was going to hear for the very first time - Jacob Lew.


"We will be having an interview with him," he said. 


Lew is the director of the U.S. office of management and budget, explained Fins. His mission was to shed light on the budget cut issue as well as the debt crisis.


budget of the united states

Coming from a background like mine, I had expected that with such a significant portfolio, Lew was going to arrive the Sun-Sentinel building in a convoy - with siren blaring cars and a long streak of security officers to herald the arrival of a notable public officer that he is. 


How wrong I was! This is America. 


He arrived our editorial meeting room in the company of someone who to me played the role of a secretary. There were just two of them.


It's interesting how interviews are conducted here. It takes the form of a teleconference. Members of the editorial board not in the newsroom are called up on the phone, and they contribute to the interview session. The interview is also recorded on video for the online section.


I watched keenly as the editors constructed and asked the questions. For me, there was really not much to ask Lew, if any at all. But there was quite a lot to learn during the interview: the questions were direct and straight to the point, they were questions that addressed headon the issue being discussed, and they were questions that indicated that thorough research and background check had been carried out on the issues raised before the interview.


The keyword? Research. Thorough research is essential before any interview. I had the pleasure of editing the video of the interview, playing the role more of an online content producer for the editorial board. It was a task I enjoyed carrying out.


It's an important lesson I learnt, and I do hope that the President of the United States, too, would soon be here for an interview session.


- Your Pal



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