16
News talk

Interaction in the broadcast news interview
Ian Hutchby
What are the special features of news interview talk for an overhearing audience?
How do news interviewers maintain a neutralistic stance?
How do interviewers seek to challenge those in the public eye?
What happens when interviewees refuse to observe the conventions of the news interview?

One significant environment in which journalists operate is that of broadcast news. Broadcast news bulletins are occasions for talk–some of it monologic, as when a news reader delivers headlines and leads direct to camera (or microphone in the case of radio), but much of it in the form of social interaction, whether between studio journalist and outside correspondent via live link, between two or more newscasters in the studio, or between broadcast journalists and public figures or other newsworthy actors in the context of a news interview. Increasingly, the more interactive formats for broadcast news talk are coming to outweigh the monologic contributions of the standard newsreader, or 'anchor'. Key agenda-setting news broadcasts such as BBC radio's Today programme or BBC television's Newsnight routinely consist of a series of interviews, each prefaced with little more than a brief contextualizing statement from one of the anchors. In the US, longrunning high profile shows such as ABC's Nightline have similarly been organized around a series of live interviews. Indeed, even in the case of standard news bulletin broadcasts, recent years have seen a significant growth in the 'dual anchor' format, such that the newsreader's task itself becomes situated within a broader context of interactional talk.

The result of this is that broadcast news messages are increasingly being generated in and through the production of talk-in-interaction. This encourages us to examine news interviews not just in terms of their role in the manufacture of news, but also in terms of their structural characteristics

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