MTA’s Names, Not Numbers program welcomed award-winning investigative reporter Jonah Kaplan on Wednesday, October 30. Originally from Philadelphia, Kaplan joined ABC11 Eyewitness News in 2016 as the political and investigative reporter. A two-time Emmy nominee, he is an integral part of the ABC11 I-Team alongside Troubleshooter Diane Wilson. Seniors participating in the Names, Not Numbers elective course were privileged to learn important interview techniques during this informative workshop, in preparation for their upcoming interviews with Holocaust survivors.
“You are speaking with Jewish heroes and you have a heroic task ahead of you,” Kaplan said to the group, as he described how to earn the trust of someone who is sharing the most painful experience of their life. Kaplan further explored how students can make these stories matter to those who have not experienced them firsthand. Students also learned important interviewing techniques, including how to make interviewees feel comfortable, how to keep the conversation going, and what types of questions to ask. Kaplan also demonstrated the application of these techniques using footage from some of his notable interviews and gave students the opportunity to share what they learned from the footage. For example, in an interview with late night star Jimmy Fallon, Kaplan illustrated the importance of asking specific questions so the interviewees can expand on their answers. He also emphasized establishing a connection with the interviewee right away to ensure that the conversation flows smoothly.
Students look forward to using Kaplan’s invaluable advice, coupled with guidance from Names, Not Numbers founder Mrs. Tova Rosenberg and educational coordinator Mr. Elliot Fuchs, as they begin the life changing experience of developing their Holocaust oral history film documentaries.