Interaction in the radio news interview: a case study of BBC Radio 4's the Today programme and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008
RG | H1 | PN1990
News interviews are core within current practices of journalism. They point to the\ud existence of a mediated public space and bolster the concept of democratic\ud accountability. This research investigates what impact these concepts have on the\ud news interviews broadcast by the Today programme (BBC Radio 4) and how\ud interaction within them invoked the public. The programme has a responsibility to\ud uphold the democratic life of the UK, making it a compelling focus of research. The\ud case study examined in this thesis is the broadcast of news interviews concerning\ud the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (HFEA 2008) and how they\ud shaped representations of the biomedical techniques contained within the\ud legislation. In particular, research investigated what the news interviews reveal\ud about the biological citizen: a specific configuration of citizenship increasingly\ud important in the twenty first century.\ud The research method is Conversation Analysis and the news interviews as\ud broadcast are the empirical data on which findings are based. The study contributes\ud to the understanding of the method through the investigation of the structural\ud organisation of the news interviews and how this affected interaction.\ud \ud Findings suggest that the news interviews on the Today programme highlights the\ud political dimensions of the HFEA 2008, that interviewees were predominantly MPs\ud or public figures and that the gender ratio is skewed towards male voices. It points\ud to the fact that the programme prefers news interviews that contain two\ud interviewees, as this promotes adversarial encounters within interaction. Research\ud also establishes how interviewers have at their disposal a range of devices, such as\ud third party citations, which they use within questions in order to achieve a neutral\ud posture. A further set of findings uncovers the need of interviewees to maintain a\ud positive image of themselves, employing politeness strategies in order to co-operate\ud when answering a question.
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