I recently had the opportunity to interview Anthony Leiserowitz, a research scientist at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. Leiserowitz studies how Americans view climate change and how messages could be tailored to reach different audiences within the American public.
For example, his team has asked Americans, “What’s the one question you would like to ask a climate expert if you were given the opportunity?” People who doubt or dismiss climate change tend to ask, “Why should I trust you and your findings?” Leiserowitz says. But those who are already concerned or alarmed want to know what they can do to solve the problem.
Leiserowitz’s research is fascinating. But he’s based in Connecticut, and I live in North Carolina. So to pull off a low-budget video interview with him, I used Skype and a piece of software called Call Recorder, a method recommended to me by a mentor, Jerry Kay. Skype is free to install, and Call Recorder costs only $20.
On the day of the interview, I called Leiserowitz on Skype. Then, once the video feed began, I hit the “record” button on Call Recorder. When the interview was over, Call Recorder saved the video file to my computer.
The resulting video, of course, does not look as good as it would had I traveled to Connecticut to do the interview with my pro-level video camera. It was also impossible to collect b-roll, that is, footage of Leiserowitz actually doing his work or walking around the Yale campus. And the first time that I tried to conduct the interview, the Skype connection was so bad that the video was unusable.
But even with those limitations, the option to conduct a video interview this way opens some intriguing possibilities. Now, it’s conceivable to conduct a cheap video interview with virtually anyone with an Internet connection. A coral reef scientist in Australia or United Nations officer in Europe is now accessible by Skype. For the right story, that can be the perfect solution.