Interview Analysis Paxman & Howard

Paxman & Howard

Is the interviewer maintaining a stance of ‘formal neutrality’? Or can we see some form of bias?

I think that Paxman is maintaining a very strong stance of formal neutrality but he is really pushing Howard to answer the specific question and trying his best to not let him dodge the question.

How are the questions being answered by the interviewee (regarding language being used etc … conversational)?

The answers are very formal and overly evasive. Howard uses plenty of words and phrases around his ideas in order to fill up the space and hide whatever he is trying to say. It is done frequently throughout the interview.

Has the interviewee answered the specific question that has been asked?

In many cases Howard was being overly evasive. The most notable being the “Did you threaten to overrule him?” question which was never answered and forced Paxman to have to move on.

What approach is the interviewee using, if any, to avoid providing an answer to a specific question?

“Did you threaten to overrule him?” a question that echoed throughout the middle of this interview, was asked 12 times and not once was it answered with the desired Yes or No response. Paxman made it quite clear that Howard was not answered the question and was eventually forced to move on. The conclusions that can be drawn from this are that Howard did threaten to overrule Mr. Lewis.

Is the interviewer allowing this to happen (Violation) or are they pushing for an answer to a question?

Paxman is not letting him dodge the question and he is pushing for an answer. At one point he even says it’s a simple Yes or No answer to which Howard still does not answer. Paxman eventually lets it go and moves on but he pushed 12 times to get an answer from Howard.

Can we see the use of language within the interview being influenced by the perceived social context of the ‘target audience’?

The language used is heavily influenced by the perceived social context of the target audience, as it is a Newsnight interview which is targeted towards a specific demographic.

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Interview Analysis Burley & O’Brien

Burley & O’Brien
1. Are we seeing examples of anything that we have discussed with regard to what has been mentioned in the last session: (Formulation/Conversationalisation etc…)
The overall tone of the interview seems to be in a very formal style although aspects of Conversationalisation do appear at some points. Kay at one point does say, “Oh go on, indulge me”, which shows that she is starting to let her own sense of bias creep in. She also says “Shocking timing”, which lends a more descriptive nature to the conversation rather than an informative one. James does use phrases which are more conversational rather than informative, but his overall tone and language throughout helps him stand behind his opinion in an articulate and informative manner.
2. Is the interviewer maintaining a stance of ‘formal neutrality’? Or can we see some form of bias?
Kay Burley seems to be very much pushing the defence of Frank Lampard in this clip. Although it would appear that she is a neutral, fighting for the truth, she is in fact trying to push her stance onto James O’Brien by saying to him that Frank is providing a house for his former partner and the children in close vicinity, so that they can split up the custody fairly. While O’Brien takes this point on and is about to tell her that this was only brought up in his show earlier in the morning, Kay during his answer says that it’s quite a big point in fact. This is both pushing her stance but it is also showing that she is biased towards the story.
3. How are the questions being answered by the interviewee (regarding language being used etc … conversational)?
I think that although the language being used leads the interview to be conversational, the interview is trying to be very formal and informative.
4. Has the interviewee answered the specific question that has been asked?
I think throughout the interview O’Brien takes a very strong stance, stood his ground and is debating coherently and accurately. He answers the question loosely but ties it all into his point, thus addressing the question but not letting Burley lead the interview towards where she wants it to be. Throughout, O’Brien seems to be in control and makes sure he gets his message across strongly but adequately.
5. What approach is the interviewee using, if any, to avoid providing an answer to a specific question?
When asked if he was ‘Sorry’, O’Brien maintains his stance but uses the situation to say that he was apologetic towards the family for causing any upset but not for what he said. He maintains that he feels his point is just and he should be allowed to convey his point as it is part of his job. When it comes to the point of whether Lampard should stay in the house that his kids are moving out of, he remains strong in stance and doesn’t back down from the point.
6. Is the interviewer allowing this to happen (Violation) or are they pushing for an answer to a question?
In this interview Kay is really trying to push for an answer from James about whether he is sorry for his comments. This seems to be the main theme or reason for this interview, is to get O’Brien to admit that he was wrong. Repeatedly throughout, Kay refers to this and it seems like her agenda is not the story but simply getting O’Brien to say ‘Sorry’.
7. Can we see the use of language within the interview being influenced by the perceived social context of the ‘target audience’?
The target audience for this is viewers of Sky, which is more of a target to revenue/entertain rather than news, in my opinion, so therefore the language is more common formal. It is perceived as informative but underneath it the underlying tone can be made out. This interview is more about the “controversy” rather than the story, which falls into the Sky News category.

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Class Analysis W/E 11/2/11

This week we looked at Approaches to Media Discourse. This is done under a few headings

  1. Linguistic and socio-linguistic analysis
  2. Conversation Analysis
  3. Semiotic Analysis
  4. Critical Linguistics and Social semiotics
  5. Social – Cognitive Analysis

Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society. Sociolinguistics differs from sociology of language in that the focus of sociolinguistics is the effect of the society on the language, while the latter’s focus is on the language’s effect on the society.

Conversation analysis (commonly abbreviated as CA) is the study of talk in interaction (both verbal and non-verbal in situations of everyday life). CA generally attempts to describe the orderliness, structure and sequential patterns of interaction, whether institutional (in school, a doctor’s surgery, court or elsewhere) or in casual conversation.

Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of cultural sign processes (semiosis), analogy, metaphor, signification and communication, signs and symbols. Semiotics is closely related to the field of linguistics, which in its part, studies the structure and meaning of language more specifically. Semiotics is usually divided into three branches, which include:

  • Semantics: Relation between signs and the things to which they refer; their denotata, or meaning
  • Syntactics: Relations among signs in formal structures
  • Pragmatics: Relation between signs and the effects they have on the people who use them

Social semiotics is a branch of the field of semiotics which investigates human signifying practices in specific social and cultural circumstances, and which tries to explain meaning-making as a social practice.

Social – Cognitive Analysis

  • Thematic Structure: The concept of a macrostructure is central to the analysis of thematic structure: the macrostructure of a text is its overall organization in terms of themes or topics.
  • Schematic Structure: The schematic structure of a particular type of text is specified in terms of the ordered parts it is built out of


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Thorough analysis of media content

Violence In Cairo As Rival Protesters Clash In Tahrir Square


After nine days of largely peaceful protests, the situation in Egypt has changed dramatically. More than 600 people have been injured, and one person killed, as pro and anti Mubarak groups fight with stones, sticks, and even concrete slabs. Egyptian State TV has broadcast an order for everyone to leave the square. And the country’s new Vice President has said the violence must end before dialogue can start.

5 Key questions that we need to closely examine and keep in mind if we are to successfully decode the reality being mediated:

1.    Who created the message?

–      The message was created by Sky News

2.    What creative techniques are used to attract my attention (as receiver)?

–      It focuses mostly on the anti-Mubarak groups. Making the story more one-sided.

–      The camera focuses on the events that the reporter is speaking about. When the reporter says “The riders kicked and beaten” the camera focuses on a recently knocked over horse and rider who gets attacked by the crowd.

–      The language and delivery by the reporter puts the events into a certain category, which is to influence the viewer and to generate news.

–      The close up of a man getting attacked by a group of men, allows for the viewer to feel like they are witnessing this and provokes a greater sense of emotion from the viewer.

3.    How might different people understand this message differently than me?

–      Other viewers might just see this as another current event and take no notice.

–      They might be more interested in this and feel that the coverage they are receiving is inaccurate.

4.    What values, lifestyles & points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

–      This video clip pushes the ideologies of the Muslim community trying to support and oppose the Mubarak regime.

–      It focuses mostly on the anti-Mubarak groups.

5.    Why is this message being sent?

–      This message is being sent as it is a current taking place and to inform the general public of the events.

–      It is a news item which is felt to be important (news worthy).

The presence of conversationalisation

When looking at a media text what is not apparent from a transcript but is extremely important regarding the delivery is accent & delivery.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in a riot before”

This makes it out to be so horrible and shocking that the reporter hasn’t witnessed anything like this before but in fact it is pretty standard events for a riot. People in mayhem, attacking each other and a mass crowd coming together filled with anger and hatred. The term riot is in fact defined as:

•       A disturbance made by an unruly mob or (in law) three or more persons; tumult or uproar.

•       A wild or turbulent disturbance created by a large number of people.

•       A noisy, violent public disorder caused by a group or crowds of persons, as by a crowd protesting against another group, a government policy, etc… in the streets.

•       Violent or wild disorder or confusion.

For the reporter to say something like this is added purely for affect rather than to inform.

“Horses crash to the ground”

This is a very onomatopoeic style of presentation, i.e. it imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. This again is done for affect but it also adds to the presentation of the media as a whole.

Preferred meaning and the reality being mediated

The piece itself in terms of the reality being mediated is what appears to be a report from within the riot with the reporter being among the protesters on the ground. It is meant to show us from a global standpoint the situation that is happening in Egypt. But with this is also the idea that what we are seeing is re-presented to us by the media. We are lead to believe only what we are shown, which for the most part is fine because we believe trusted sources. But what if this re-presentation of the events is made out to be more than what is happening or we are having the information filtered and it’s much worse. Only by researching further into it will we be able to get the truth.

During the clip, there are points where the camera ‘catches’ images of men being brought back with blood on them. This was preceded by images of men ducking from potential projectile missiles being thrown in their direction.

Overall this clip seems to be edited clearly to invoke emotion from the viewer and is done very well as there are many points where the language, images and sounds all come together to create an effect which leads the viewer in a particular way. Being in a country where they speak a different language, there would be no reason to add in interviews/eye witness accounts as the dubbing or subtitling would take away from the affect. Event he parts where the reporter says “here they come” and it cuts to images of the crowds, as he puts it, “surging” towards each other.

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Class Review W/E 4/2/11

This week we had two classes, where one was a review of the CA that we did. Each of us got up and presented our piece of media to the rest of the class and spoke about it. There were some interesting topics brought up in class about how the media has driven us towards responding in certain ways when presented or re-presented with information.
In particular a discussion about the effect of Big Brother broke out.

Our first class was all about conversationialisation. Where the tone, accent etc…dictates the way in which a piece is presented or re-presented to us through the media. Also certain words used help to shape the way in which a story is re-presented to us.

Overall this week really opened my eyes about the way in which we are presented with information.

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Class review W/E 28/1/11

This week we looked into the idea of decoding an encoded ‘reality’. This is done under 5 key questions.

1-Who Created the message?
2-What creative techniques are used to attract my attention (as reciever)?
3-How might different people understand this message differently than me?
4-What values, lifestyles & points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?
5-Why is this message being sent?

We also looked into the idea of the preferred meaning of what is presented to us by the media. The way in which our news is “spun” to us or re-presented is done in a way that the people sending the story want us to receive the message in a particular way.

Overall the topic this week was an eye opener in relation to the way news and stories in general are presented to us. Although semi aware that the idea of the media, press, etc… Are at the end of the day a business and are meant to make money, the stories we receive are morphed so that they appeal more to us as a mass and an individual.

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Steve Jobs iPhone 4 conference about the defects with the iPhone 4’s antenna.

The Apple press conference in relation to the problems affecting the iPhone 4 that took place on July 16th 2009, is my example of how the media puts a certain spin on events and how the company that was affected counteracted. In the presentation made by Steve Jobs, he took stage and said:

“We’re not perfect. Phones are not perfect. We all know that. But we want to make our users happy.”

Straight away Jobs put his hands up and said to everyone that Apple we admitting that they are human just like everybody else. Looking at this the preferred meaning of what Jobs was doing was stating that their product was not made to the specifications that the users expected and he wanted to fix this problem. Jobs points out the exact point on the phone, where if touched then the signal drops. This has become known as the ‘death-grip’. Jobs then points out that this happens to every Smartphone and proceeds to show examples. Jobs says:

“”X” marks the spot. We made it very visible, and with the help of our friends on some websites, everybody knows where to touch to make it happen. We haven’t found a way around the laws of physics yet.”

Jobs then proceeds to show off a state-of-the-art antenna testing facility. Apple have invested over $100 million in antenna testing facilities over the past 5 years and have 18 PhD scientists working on antenna design.

Apple will offer all iPhone 4 customers a free bumper case in an attempt to solve the antenna issue, until September 30th when they will re-assess the situation. There will be no recall, but anybody who is still unhappy can return their iPhone 4 within 30 days for a full refund. Apple is adamant that many other Smartphone’s suffer from the same problem, but Apple love their customers so everyone gets a free bumper. Everybody wins in the end. Apple don’t have to recall over 3 million iPhones and their customers each receive a free case which is supposed to solve the problem of signal loss, dropped calls, etc…

Two sides to every story:

Looking at this from a different angle, you can say that Apple is playing the media to their advantage. When the story broke that the iPhone 4 had antenna problems, Apple acted quickly to cut damage to a minimum. Apple decided to prove that not only did their product have problems, but so did all the other rival products. Steve Jobs showed that the problem which was jumped on by the media on the iPhone 4 was also evident in Smartphone’s from Nokia, Samsung, Blackberry and every other Smartphone. Now while Apple was under attack they also decided to take a shot at rival companies. This attack meant that Apple held onto its customers who may have wanted to jumps ship and stopped the company from losing money. They decided to introduce a plan where free cases for everyone who bought or buys an iPhone 4 would be made available to customers, and anybody that wasn’t happy could return phones within 30 days for a full refund.

Apple took a small hit on their revenue in order to save themselves millions of dollars. So while their preferred meaning behind the press conference was to make consumers aware of the problems and help them reach a happy medium, the other meaning is that Apple was looking after its own interests.

Jobs also took a parting shot at the media and also rival companies who tried to oust Apple by saying:

“We love our users, and we’ve built over 300 retail stores with Genius Bars to serve them and get free advice. But when we fall short, we pick ourselves up, figure out what’s wrong, and try harder. And when we succeed, users reward us with their loyalty. When we have problems, we take it personally. Maybe we should have a wall of PR people to insulate us, but we don’t.

We’ve been working very hard over the past 22 days to figure out the problem, and we’ve confirmed that the heart of the problem is that all Smartphone’s have weak spots. And if our customers are having problems, we’ll give them free cases or a full refund. But the data supports that this is the best Smartphone in the world and there is no “Antennagate” for us, but a challenge to the entire industry.”

In my opinion although this was underhanded, in business it is true that you have to look after yourself first and foremost. I think that Apple played this situation perfectly as they have the fastest selling phone of all time and the most popular. By taking immediate action in calling the press conference and solving the problem as soon as possible, Apple showed that they look after their own interests and their customer’s interests. They weren’t afraid to stand up and admit that they were wrong, which helped them convince their costumers that they should stay loyal.

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