Nov 4, 2019
John Sawatsky is a Canadian author, journalist and interviewing consultant.
Born in Winkler, Manitoba, he attended Simon Fraser University in the late 1960s graduating in political science. He started his career as an investigative reporter in the 1970s. While working as Ottawa correspondent for the Vancouver Sun he published a series of articles on misdeeds of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for which he received the 1976 Michener Award.
He left daily journalism in 1979 to write books, among them a biography of Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney published 1991.
In 1982, Sawatsky began teaching classes in investigative journalism and has been an adjunct professor of journalism at Carleton University's School of Journalism since 1991. Sawatsky also works as a consultant in the practice of interviewing and has taught interviewing techniques to television anchors, reporters and print journalists in many parts of the world, including Canada, Singapore, The United States, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.
He currently teaches an interview-technique seminar for sports reporters at ESPN. The seminar focuses on remedying "the sloppy and ineffective interviewing techniques often employed by many of today's major television and cable news interviewers". In 2004, he was hired full-time by ESPN as senior director of talent development.
We met at his home in Connecticut where I tried to discover from him how best to interview an author. During our conversation we talk about the merits of having an opinion, the positives and negatives of disagreeing with your guests and/or letting them shine, micro and macro interviewing strategies, open and close ended questions, football play-books, Howard Stern, David Letterman, Jay Leno and Johnny Carson.