A month or so ago my first assignment for my interviewing class was to analyze an interview based on what we had studied thus far in our text. Creative Interviewing: The Writer’s Guide to Gathering Information by Asking Questions by Ken Metzler is the book we are studying. Below is my report which I was happy to receive an A on.
The interview that I chose to report on is one from ABC News that was done by Robin Roberts for 20/20 just a few weeks ago. This exclusive interview features Robin speaking with Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus. Both of which, along with Michelle Knight, were held captive for ten years by Ariel Castro in his home in Cleveland, Ohio. The program entitled “Captive – A Journey of Hope and Survival”, features both girls describing to Robin Roberts the events surrounding both their kidnap and various events that went on during their captivity. Everything from watching their story unfold on television while held prisoner, the birth of a child, and the day they finally escaped.
Robin uses a very similar style to the flow of interview that is described in Metzler’s text. He says, “The best interviewers will guide the opening small talk into the first serious questions so smoothly that the transition is barely noticed.” (Page 20). Roberts does this beautifully with both women. For each of them she begins with asking about what they were like before their abduction at the ages of 17 (Berry), and 14 (DeJesus). Both women reply with smiles and are happy to talk about their childhoods. Soon after, the serious questions begin when Robin starts asking about the day that they were kidnapped. Next, about the inappropriate behavior and gestures that Ariel Castro made towards them. The girls immediately become emotional. Roberts shows the utmost compassion and understanding. At one point she even asked DeJesus if she is comfortable speaking about specific incidents, to which DeJesus replies that she is not yet comfortable answering.
We learn a lot about what happened including a surprising detail of a phone call that Castro made from Amanda Berry’s cell phone just days after her disappearance. This brings about a question that I don’t recall hearing discussed that I would have asked. Why did authorities never come and search Castro’s house after this phone call? It seems that the phone call appeared to be a hoax to the authorities. Police did go to the area that the signal of the phone was found, but nothing was moved forward and the phone no longer was reachable.
There were two poignant questions that stuck out to me during this interview. Roberts asks Amanda Berry about people that she saw on television during her captivity that helped her keep hope. One of the people Berry mentions is Robin Roberts herself. Amanda mentions seeing Robin in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Both become quite emotional as they discuss that “you never know who is watching.” You never really know who you might be helping by being a beacon of hope.
The final “bombshell” question and the final question of the interview was, “Can you forgive him?” DeJesus replies, “I think you have to forgive in order to move on.” Berry says that she will never be able to forgive him because in her eyes Castro took her entire life away for ten years. Her mother passed during her captivity which he blames him for.
The interview did end on happy thoughts as both DeJesus and Berry discuss with Roberts what their lives are like now that they are free. Both seem happy and are continuing to build the lives that were taken from them for so many years.
This was a beautiful program. For more about this story, you can find the program on ABC’s website. DeJesus and Berry have also written a book entitled “Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland”.