By Connie Chung
A paper by Connie Chung, spring 1997 fellow, provides an insider’s account of a driving force in modern television news: the celebrity interview. Securing such an interview is highly competitive. Chung shows the techniques and strategies journalists use, and the role luck and circumstance sometimes play. Drawing on her own experience as well as that of fellow broadcasters such as Barbara Walters, Walter Cronkite, and Mike Wallace, she shows how the quest for the celebrity interview — the “get”—has evolved over the past two decades. She also argues that the “get” phenomenon isn’t confined to broadcasters, but is common to newspapers and newsmagazines as well. In a detailed description of the competition for exclusive first excerpts from General Colin Powell’s book, Chung shows how cross-media competition served to intensify the level of journalistic competition overall. In a final section, Chung reflects on the “get”’s impact on TV news, and how networks could act in order to recover a sense of lost balance and integrity that appears to trouble many news professionals and the American public.