Presenting “public opinion” in TV news broadcasts with(out) compromising the objectivity of the reporter



Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description broadcast TV news. Sound-bites presenting the “voice of the people” are common in TV news broadcasts and can be looked at as manifestations of conversationalization of public discourse (Fairclough 1994, Esser 1999, Franke 2011); at the same time, inclusion of non-elite speakers helps to put ‘a human face on the numbers’ (Ettema & Glasser, 1998, p. 198), using an ‘ordinary person” with whom the audience can identify is also “a way of mobilising moral outrage without compromising the objectivity of the reporter”. (Lewis & Wahl-Jorgensen, 2005, p. 96) This objectivity is often, however, just illusory, as the way the voices of people appear in news reports and the opinions they express are a result of the selection and presentation strategies applied by the news broadcasts producers. Sometimes there are reports that portray contrasting viewpoints, which can be interpreted as an attempt at objective presentation, but often it might be the aim of the producers to make an impression of one prevailing “public opinion”. The producers’ view of the presented people’s opinions can be read also through the framing of the sound-bites within the report and the way they are situated between interview fragments with other, typically more elite, sources. The aim of this study is to find out what linguistic, discursive and other strategies are used to present opinions of “the public” in TV news broadcasts either as varied or rather as unified and how the producers’ view of these opinions can be read. The material for analysis comes from British and Czech prime-time public-service and commercial news broadcasts, collected over the period of one month, which enables a comparison between presenting public opinion on the same events on commercial and public-service channels and also between presenting public opinion in different cultural and national backgrounds.
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