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Skype video calling is a powerful tool for journalists

rachelpsuSports reporter Rachel Lenzi knows that a good interview requires more than just jotting down what an athlete or coach says. Writing for The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, she has long relied on her ability to read body language and get between the sound bites to find her deeper insights.

“Presentation is so important,” Rachel notes. “When you’re on the phone with someone, you don’t know what they look like, if their eyebrows are raised or their shoulders are held back.”

That’s why she was so excited to discover Skype as a new way to do interviews. “On Skype, you can see their face – you get so much more than you would if you were just on the phone,” she smiles.

Rachel often interviews people from Toledo (or who have connections to Toledo) who’ve gone on to do interesting things all over the globe. She recently wrote an article about Kristina Keneally, who grew up in the Toledo area, and became the first female premier of New South Wales in Australia, the CEO of Basketball Australia and kicked off a television career on a morning panel show Down Under, and is a contributor to Sky Australia.

“I was calling from here to Australia and the phone bills were outrageous,” Rachel recalls. “Kristina asked me if I had Skype, and I said, ‘I’ve never used Skype’ but Kristina told me, “It’s easy.’”

Skype now has a whole series of instructional videos to help new users get started. Rachel downloaded Skype on her iPad and tested it with her husband. She says, “I thought, if it worked across the room, I guess it will work with Australia. I crossed my fingers and said, ‘Please don’t fail me Skype,’ and – you know what? – the interview went great.”

“Now, I’ve been suggesting Skype to other interview subjects – some people are into it and some are still a little uneasy about trying new technology,” Rachel says, “But we all have smart phones and we have to ask ourselves, ‘How can this help journalism?’ Your camera on your phone is a powerful thing – it’s not just for Instagram or selfies, it could actually help your career.”

Rachel said, when asked if she thought it would be helpful if there were more education about how to use Skype for professionals. She said, “Yes, yes, YES! Some people can be intimidated by technology, but it’s like my editor says, ‘In this business you have to adapt and adopt.’ You’re never too old to try new things. I have to survive in the digital world, and these tools are here to help me.”

If you’re a journalist, or find yourself doing interviews often, why not give Skype a try – even if you’ve never used it before? Rachel says, “At a time when budgets are getting squeezed all over, this is a creative and inexpensive way to get our jobs done. I loved getting rid of long distance charges!”

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