Week seven

Workbook activities

Today Show – A shark, a duck and an awkward interview  (2011)

The Today Show on Channel 9, featuring hosts Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson, is a breakfast television show which typically reports the news, weather, sport and interviews guests on various topics.

The video above intends to cover a story about a bull shark that is inhabiting Evandale Lake at the Gold Coast. Stefanovic gives the background of the story, which has a lighthearted side side to it, and goes on to introduce the reporter in the story, Paul Burt.  The two exchange comedic banter and personal humour, which is evident of Tolson’s argument that chat-based programming is oriented toward the personal, it features wit and humour (1991).  Additionally, the report is quite the opposite of what you would expect in a typical investigative journalism news story, which extracts, reveals and presents such news people try to conceal (Singh 2014). Burt then begins to report the facts of the story and what the council are doing to solve the issue with the bull shark. However, the news story takes an awkward turn when Burt mistakenly hooks a duck while casting his fishing line.  As expected, there is laughter and comedic comments but also a ‘damage control’ sense as the interview is cut short and returns to the news studio.  This is reflective of Tolson’s statement that the risk of transgression underlies talk (1991).

Being a television host is not just about performing and engaging with an audience, it requires a lot of skill and experience in the journalism field. To be a good host, you need to be an experienced media performer generally, and you need to be prepared and knowledgeable about what’s coming ahead in the program (Ames 2016). The video reflects this statement where the hosts took control of the controversial situation and kept continuing with the show. Successful hosts need to be able to think on their feet and have a quick wit to restore any mishaps or unexpected situations that may occur during, sometimes, live broadcasts.


Piece to camera

PTC video

This was a very uncomfortable activity for me to do.  I’m not a person who likes being the centre of attention and I really don’t have any aspirations to be a news journalist but it was helpful to learn another aspect of being a professional communicator.

I practiced quite a lot at what I was going to say, how I was going to say the report and my body movements.  It was my first time completing a PTC report so I’m hoping it has been received ok.

Oliver (2016) states that the piece to camera, or PTC is that part of the report where the reporter can be seen talking to the viewer about all sorts of things, hopefully relevant to the story. Whenever I have watched a  PTC report on television it’s usually about some dramatic event unfolding or which has just occurred.

In contrast, my PTC report was about the battle I have with my children with keeping their toys in their own living area.  I was thinking of going to another location to talk about something more interesting, however, toys are a familiar subject to me and my husband filmed this at night after my children had gone to bed. It was quiet and had good lighting so it seemed an ideal choice to do the PTC.


Clayman ‘From talk to text: newspaper accounts of reporter-source interactions’ summary (1990)

Clayman aims to determine what makes a questions quotable, and to specify the impact that quoted questions have on the sense and import of subsequent political speech.

For newswriters, any particular linguistic choice may be guided, not by ideological factors, but by more local concerns internal to the development of the narrative. Such choices are also analysed and interpreted by audience numbers in the light of their location within the surrounding discourse. It is well-established principle that the meaning of verbal, gestural and other communicative displays depends upon the contexts in which they are used.

Newspaper and television news stories regularly contain verbatim or paraphrased statements for a variety of sources and may are culled from interactional situations with interviews, press conferences, public speeches and congressional hearings being examples. In accounts of political speeches newspaper and television coverage frequently included some reference to audience responses to it. By preserving aspects of the local interactional context, a given statement is presented as an action produced within an ongoing course of social interaction. The assumpton that an adequate understanding of how texts are produced and responded to may remain elusive so long as the issue is pursued without making close comparative reference to how talk works.

During talk, interviews and press conferences, news reporters often quote sources with the answers and not the questions asked. Questions are unique in their power to define adjacent statements as actions produced in interaction with others; a variety of more specific meanings can this be conveyed as consequence. While quoted questions show that the general topic was imposed externally, the source’s statements may nevertheless be transparently self-interested in character.

Audiences can relate and interpret answers to questions on how they are conveyed.  Answers may come in the form of prompt or delayed, confirmatory or rejecting. For prompt or delayed answers, agreements are regularly produced directly and without delay, while disagreements tend to be delayed by various intervening items, including pauses preceding their delivery. With regards to confirmatory or rejecting, some questions, particularly of the yes/no variety, have propositions embedded within them, which the recipient is asked to confirm or reject. Confirmatory instances reveal the source may take the reporter’s version further by intensifying or upgrading it. In contrast, a rejected proposal can put forth assertions that the source must negate or rebut in order to develop his or her point.

Reporters’ questions also figure prominently in accounts of non-answers. Non-answers appear with great frequency in accounts of interviews and press conferences. In the context of a particular line of questioning, a non-answer can suggestive regarding the source’s motives for withholding information. News reporters may state that the source ‘refused’ or ‘declined’ to comment on the inquired-about matter without actually reproducing the declination as it was spoken.

Many quotation sequences examined show the source to be some way resisting a line of questioning. Declining to answer or rejecting what it proposes, or initially evading what it seeks, are common varieties of resistance. This may explain why presidential press conferences and other high-level briefings continue to be of such interest to reporters and audiences alike.

In contemporary political life, what people say is assessed and evaluated in the light of how they say it.



Ames, K 2016, COMM12033 speech and script term 1 2016, lesson 6: Genres of speech – corporate, CQUniversity, Brisbane.

Clayman, S 1990, ‘From talk to text: newspaper accounts of reporter-source interactions’, Media Culture & Society, vol. 12, pp. 79-103.

IWakeUpWithTODAY 2011, A shark, a duck and an awkward interview, Youtube, viewed 27 March 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzmAEQzZJ5Q.

Singh, S 2014, ‘International journal of multidisciplinary approach & studies’, An Analytical Study of Move from Traditional Journalism to Investigative Journalism, Vol. 1 Issue 4, p353-360.

Tolson, A 1991, ‘Televised chat and the synthetic personality’, in Broadcast Talk, ed P. Scannell, Sage Publications, London, pp. 178–200.





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