International Seminar: Changing Discourses of Broadcast News

Last updated:18 Feb 2016

December 12th-15th 2010, Macau

The International Forum for Advanced Research in English Studies held its inaugural event, an international roundtable seminar titled “Changing Discourses of Broadcast News” in December 2010. Professor Martin Montgomery chaired the seminar which included presentations by leading figures in the field from Australia, Greece, Italy, Sweden, the UK and the US, as well as postgraduate students, Tong Chen, Daniel Feng, Susie Shenjin, and Zhu Hongqiang. The international speakers included Stephen E. Clayman (UCLA), Alison Duguid (University of Siena), Mats Ekström (Örebro University), Richard Fitzgerald (University of Queensland), Louann Harman (University of Bologna), Michael Higgins (University of Strathclyde), Åsa Kroon Lundell (Örebro University), Marianna Patrona (Hellenic Military Academy), Angela Smith (University of Sunderland), and Joanna Thornborrow (Cardiff University). The topics under discussion, which strongly reflected cross-cultural contexts ranged from historicizing broadcast news in Sweden through weather-casting, the development of the ‘live two-way’ in BBC broadcast news, accountability in Greek political news discourse, cross-cultural variations in Chinese news interviewing, and politicians on ‘Infotainment’ talk shows in the US.


Significant upheavals are taking place across the news industries as a whole with consequent changes in the ways that news itself is defined, configured, produced and consumed. There are financial and commercial pressures on news providers, there are technological changes in the platforms available for delivering the news and there are changes in the ways that audiences seem to prefer to consume it. While broadcast news remains the dominant form of news it is clearly undergoing rapid change.

But not only has the discourse of broadcast news received little systematic study. Hardly any work has been done on the history of it as a form of broadcast discourse. And yet its public availability and the existence of archives of recorded data provide a unique opportunity to analyse and chart discursive changes over time. There is hardly any important public institution in modern society where spoken discourse is so central to its conduct and where we have such a wealth of archived, recorded data.

Studying changes in the discourse of broadcast news can thus provide a unique opportunity to look at discursive change in the public sphere. Dealing with a change in a central genre of broadcast output, the findings of the research will be of wide interest in the fields of media and television studies, journalism studies, and discourse studies. They will cast light on broadcasting history, discursive change and journalistic practice.

Research Questions

It is intended that the proposed seminar will address questions of the following kind:

(a) In what ways have the communicative styles of broadcast television news presentation changed over the last twenty years?

(b) In what ways have styles of news interviewing changed?

(c) What are the pressures that produce, and the dynamics of, discursive change in a major institution of communication?

Other areas to be addressed include discursive shifts in the news agenda involving a greater degree of personalization.

Papers Presented

Stephen E. Clayman, Politicians on ‘Infotainment’ talk shows: The case of The Daily Show

Mats Ekström, Changing forms of broadcast news: A twenty-year perspective on the Swedish case

Richard Fitzgerald, Just like home: Remediation of the social in contemporary news broadcasting

Michael Higgins, The accountability interview and its development in consumer programming

Louann Haarman, Perspectives on performing presentation 1987-2009

Åsa Kroon Lundell, What about the weather? Historicizing broadcast news by examining weather-casting and audience orientation

Martin Montgomery , Susie Shen Jin and Daniel Feng Debing, News presentation: expressiveness versus neutralism

Martin Montgomery, Tong Chen and Zhu Hongqiang, Cross-cultural variations in news interviewing: The Chinese case

Marianna Patrona, Revisiting the news interview: conversational patterns for displaying accountability in political news discourse

Angela Smith,‘Good morning Kate, are you there?’: The development of the ‘live two-way’ in BBC broadcast news.

Joanna Thornborrow, Styling the News