Reporter Guide

Interviewing Children

Interviewing children is a critical element of the education reporter’s daily work. However, practices for gaining access and avoiding harm and embarrassment vary widely depending on the news organization and individual reporter in question. This document aims to provide journalists with broad guidelines, but it stops short of advocating for the kinds of uniform policies to which academic researchers must adhere.

These recommendations should be viewed as suggestions based on expert consensus and years of firsthand experience interviewing children — not as immutable rules. The guidelines can best be summarized by the maxim that Columbia Journalism School professor LynNell Hancock presents at the start of her education reporting classes: When covering children, first do no harm.