In recent years some British broadcast panel interviews take a particularly confrontational form. In these debate interviews, news seems to be generated as arguments provided by the interviewees who participate as protagonists of opposite positions. This paper will briefly attempt to show that interviewers’ initial challenging questions polarise interviewees’ positions and that confrontation between interviewees is an expected and normative part of the interaction. Focusing on the grammatical, lexical and sequential design of interviewers’ initial challenges, the analysis will attempt to show that these are constructed in adherence with the IR’s formal neutrality as provided by the turn-taking system for the news interview. The paper suggests that debate interview cannot be adequately understood as organised according to one turn-taking system, but rather as organised by the turn-taking system for news interviews as well as by a conversational turn-taking system.
Journal of Pragmatics, 2007, Vol 39, Issue 3, p. 570-91