ForumVol. 18, No. 1 (2018)

Enabling Institutional Messaging: TV Journalists’ Work with Interviewee Responses

Carol Lo1,

Di Yu1

1 Teachers College, Columbia University


In public broadcasting, the primary goal of interviewing an expert is to inform and educate the audience for the benefit of societal interests (Clayman, 2013). Previous work on news interviews has noted that this type of public discourse not only involves the host and the expert, but also an overhearing audience (Clayman & Heritage, 2002; Hutchby, 1995); moreover, the host is positioned as the “tribune” of the people (Clayman, 2002), tasked with the responsibility to maximize the public’s understanding of and knowledge about what may concern them. While the audience as the third party in the question-answer sequence in news interviews has received considerable attention in the literature, less is known about how the interviewer works with the health expert’s responses to questions in order to facilitate the audience’s understanding of health initiatives. In this paper, we examine how the interviewer designs a follow-up turn to (1) provide background or supplemental information which contextualizes the interviewee’s prior response and to (2) reformulate the expert’s explanation from the perspective of the general public, thereby facilitating the audience’s understanding of initiatives pertaining to public health.