Journalistic interviews in the United States increasingly began to appear in the 1860s. Before that, when reporters talked to people, they typically didn’t quote them. Once interviewing started, it became a craze. It had its own practitioners, often women, who were thought to be better at drawing people out. Henry James’s journalists were almost all “interviewers,” and his characters, like Selah Tarrant in “The Bostonians,” crave their scrutiny: “The wish of his soul was that he might be interviewed,” James wrote.
At first the interview was regarded as a particularly American phenomenon — pushy, but fair too, because it involved the cooperation of the interviewee, not just a sneaky reporter. The practice shifted radically after World War II. Television gained popularity — the age of the broadcast interviewer began. And psychoanalysis — that other great innovation in opening people up — was being practiced more widely.
Susan Burton, “How to Talk to Strangers”, The New York Times Magazine (25 October 2015), 36-37.