Conversation Analysis in the News Interview


University of California, Los Angeles


The broadcast news interview is among the earliest forms of institutional talk to be investigated within Conversation Analysis, and it continues to attract attention because of its manifold significance. It is a prime example of “formal” interaction (Atkinson, 1982), organized by a specialized turn-taking system that is substantially more confining than ordinary conversation, and conducted for the benefit of an audience. These properties depart from ordinary conversation, while sharing a family resemblance with certain other varieties of institutional talk such as courtroom examinations (see Komter, this volume), classroom lessons (see Gardner, this volume), and debates. Within the family of formal and public modes of talk, the news interview is also a distinct species. Its organizational form is specialized and adapted to various context-specific communicative functions and institutional arrangements. The broadcast interview is a prominent vehicle through which news is conveyed to the populace. It is an arena for the enactment of journalistic professionalism and the norms that bear on it. It is a forum for expressions of opinion and perspective from various societal interests. And it both reflects and constitutes relations between journalists, government officials and other elites, and the institutions they represent.

Research in this area initially began with ...

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