Question types in American political interviews. A linguistic study of broadcast interactions

Academic Paper, 2017

16 Pages



Question type is influential in of broadcasting interaction political interviews regarding the way of discussing current issues about the world or inner matters. End to this, questions appear different among political interviews , although some question types are higher than others. The study deals with four interviews including four important political figures , Sarah Palin , Clinton , Trump and Obama . Through verifying this data, the study has come out with fruitful results about the question types and how they play an important role in political interviews .

نوع السؤال له دور مؤثر في المقابلات السياسية في البث التلفزيوني فيما يتعلق بطريقة مناقشة القضايا الحالية في العالم وايضا المسائل الداخلية . لذلك تظهر الاسئلة بشكل مختلف في المقابلات السياسة على الرغم من وجود انواع لها حضور اكثر من بقية الاسئلة . الدارسة تركز على اربعة مقابلات مع اربعة شخصيات سياسية مهمة منها ساره بالن وكلنتن وترامب واوباما . من خلال تحليل العينة , جاءت الدراسة بنتائج مهمة حول طبيعة الاسئلة وكيف تعلب دورا مهمة في المقابلات السياسية .


Media and language are inextricable . The use of language in different forms of media is really important . Political interview is a common form of media interaction or in other words broadcasting interaction . Therefore , the study will try to reveal the linguistic aspects of language in interview , one of these aspects is types of questions .

Types of questions will definitely be under the structural organization of any interview . Yet , the structure of political interview is systematic and it never ever works haphazardly .

Developments in means of communication also participate incredibly in forming these interviews about how language is used properly . Communication is no longer fixed in one way or format , but it takes different sides . Accordingly , language should follow these changes and principles of media . The study will go deeply in such types of broadcasting to tell us more about the types of questions being employed and how they show the kinds of context that discourse is different from everyday communication .

1.2 Media Interview

Media discourse is mainly concerned with interaction of interviewers that occurs among the participants in media programmers . In simple terms ,Chilton (2004:74) states that any interview has the form of a question-answer structure .Traditionally , in O'keef 's words (2006:1) media discourse is defined as follows :

the discourse of interactions in broadcast settings and so in this context, media discourse refers to political interviews, chat shows, radio phone- ins, and so on, where two people are interacting and an audience is listening. In this sense, media discourse will be viewed within an interactional rather than a representational or critical framework. Essentially, we are interested in spoken language in the context of the media .

Accordingly , interview is a part of media discourse . Hence , Wedell (1968:205) adds that the interview is a kind of interaction that has a group of parts and in the same way it shows the role of interviewer who makes a list of topic headings with interviewees . The role and purpose of broadcast interview is constantly changing . In addition to that , in future the nature of the questioning will not be accepted when it is less direct and clear . Even audience will have a role in future in the questions of interviews by urging audience and raising these questions through email , programme's we-site and phone-ins (Chapman and Kinsey , 2009) . Stephenson et al (2005: 134) say that there are five steps for any interview that the interviewer should follow , 1. the opening introduction 3.thequestions and discussion 4.a reintroduction and 5. the close .

1.3 Broadcasting Interaction and Everyday Conversation

The interaction on T.V is completely different from causal conversation , although they have some points in common . But , media interaction includes conversations through which the topics being addressed between interviewers and interviewees . O'keefe(2005:3) writes that media interactions and conversations are overheard . Yet , The former happens in front of the audience . For that reason , media interactions are not like conversations because the latter do not include audience and also have no shared knowledge . Eggins and Slade(1997: 19) define everyday conversation , functionally , as a talk that is not induced for pragmatic goals.

O'keefe(2005:3) then summarizes the main differences as follows :

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The kind of context is different between media interaction and casual conversation . In simple terms , O'Keefe (2005:4) points to the concept of institutional power which is bestowed upon the presenter/host/interviewer. It is within the gift of this "power- role holder" has the position to determine when and how to start the interaction and to structure it and with this comes the right to be the questioner following up on each answer with a new question, and so on. Having this power in the institutional interaction means that the presenter/host/interviewer puts the interviewee/guest/caller in the role of answerer. O'keefe(Ibid) add more as follows :

Other manifestations of the discoursal asymmetry that result from this include the power- role holder being able to decide when to raise a topic, when to change it and when and how, if at all, to close the conversation (media conversations can just be terminated rather than closed). This exogenous or institutionalized apportioning of speaker roles, power and turns- taking rights is what distinguishes media interactions most from everyday conversations.

There is no such power or position in casual conversation that takes place in every place and outside the institutional norms or , in other words institutional discourse .

Koester (2006:5) delves deeper that institutional interactions or in other words institutional discourses are different from ordinary interaction in which they are asymmetrical ,whereas causal conversations are symmetrical at a certain level of idealization . And , the institutional roles are tied up to certain discursive rights and obligations , for instance initiating and controlling interaction ,asking questions ,and so on . Institutional dialogue is used to refer to the institutional discourse that studies how people used language to manage those practical tasks and perform particular activities associated with their participation in institutional contexts like teaching , describing symptoms cross-examining , making enquires , negotiating and interviewing . It takes different ways of happing may be face to face or over phone ( Drew and Sorjonen , 1997:92) .

O'keefe (2005:4) also touches on the conditions between media interaction and everyday conversation as follows :

illustration not visible in this excerpt

1.4 Types of Broadcasting Interaction

O'keefe (2005:32-3) speaks of dyadic spoken interaction in media which appears in a number of different spoken contexts like phone –ins , chat shows , to political interviews on Television . To explain thoroughly the language of media interaction , there are three kinds of media interaction as follows :

1. Unknown : this kinds of interaction includes an interviewee from the private sphere and an interviewer from the public sphere who is known on public sphere .Talk shows are common types of show in this category.

2.Known . It contains an interviewee from the public sphere like a celebrity . In these interactions both interviewer and interviewee are known public persona. Chat shows are common kinds of this interaction.

3. Political . the interviewee belongs to political sphere and both interviewer and interviewee are known in public sphere . It also involves two known personae, they are treated separately as they involve publicly elected/appointed figures as opposed to celebrities and are focused on political issues.

1.4.1 Political Interviews

Political interview is a kind of interaction whose personae are from public sphere. Martinez(2000:20) states that political interviews are within broadcast interviews which occur in an institutional context between one interviewer and one interviewee . They are also different from other types of broadcast interviews , in which political interviews are a type of formal interviews with major political representatives such as government monsters and shadow ministers . Furthermore , Rama Martinez(2003:9) says that political interviews are mainly information focused . In contrast , talk show and chat show fluctuate between being information focused and entertainment focused.


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Question types in American political interviews. A linguistic study of broadcast interactions
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Hayder Ankushi (Author), 2017, Question types in American political interviews. A linguistic study of broadcast interactions, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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