Mac201 current affairs broadcasting: Paxman the public interrogator


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Follow on session from the discussion of the Public Sphere (Habermas). Looked at the representative role of the 'public interrogator' as employed by Higgins, 2010.
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Mac201 current affairs broadcasting: Paxman the public interrogator

  2. 2. OVERVIEWIntro: recapCrisis of public communicationCelebrity and the public inquisitorPersonality journalismJeremy Paxman 2
  3. 3. ‘CHAT SHOW CHARLIE’Charles Kennedy1999 Liberal Democrat leadership elections 3
  4. 4. ‘CRISIS’Charles Kennedy interview (2002) downSound bite culture 4
  5. 5. THE ‘CRISIS OF PUBLICCOMMUNICATION’Blumler and Gurevitch (1995: 203)The media provide an „impoverished‟ means ofserving up issues that matter to the publicCurrent ways of engaging the public withimportant issues actually resulted in themknowing less about the issue at stake 5
  6. 6. THE ‘CRISIS OF PUBLICCOMMUNICATION’Political elites accused of internalising a media-inspireddesire to be both entertaining and appealing the public (See Postman, 1987; Franklin, 2004) 6
  7. 7. THE ‘CRISIS OF PUBLICCOMMUNICATION’Political elites accused of internalising a media-inspireddesire to be both entertaining and appealing the public (See Postman, 1987; Franklin, 2004) 7
  8. 8. THE ‘CRISIS OF PUBLICCOMMUNICATION’Gordon’s fake smile 8
  9. 9. THE ‘CRISIS OF PUBLICCOMMUNICATION’Political elites accused of internalising a media-inspireddesire to be both entertaining and appealing the public (See Postman, 1987; Franklin, 2004) ORModifying political discourse so it meets the needs of themedia might be beneficial as it might bring much neededclarity when dealing with complex political issues andengage the public more widely (Norris 2000; Jones 2005; Temple 2008). 9
  10. 10. CELEBRITY AND THEPUBLIC INQUISITOR„Celebrity culture‟ as negative?Concerns since the 1950sThe construction and maintenance of a celebrity image iscentral to the marketing of contemporary politicians (P. D.Marshall, 1997)David Cameron – PR specialistHead of Communications atCarlton TV 10
  11. 11. CELEBRITYJOURNALISTSBrian McNair (2000: 96): „star‟ interviewers entrusted withhigh profile events 11
  12. 12. CELEBRITYJOURNALISTSThey inquire on behalf of the publicEmpowered by their civil responsibility to engage theirquarry in an interrogative modeThe public prefers this over „gentle probing‟ (see Ross, 2004) 12
  13. 13. PUBLIC INQUISITORHiggins (2010: 96) – 1968 Life magazineDavid FrostSir Robin DayEd Murrow 13
  14. 14. PERSONALITYJOURNALISMThe public inquisitor is thought to represent a particularlymalign form of personality journalism (at least by politicians!)“the whole thing has been taken to a quite different level by thehostile, bantering, sneering, cynical performing celebrityinterviewers” (Kenneth Clark, above, cited in Cockerell 2003)“Newszak” (Franklin, 1997: 13) 14
  15. 15. PERSONALITYJOURNALISMJeremy Paxman vs Michael Howard (former Home Secretary)13th May 1997 15
  16. 16. PERSONALITYJOURNALISMHostility = trouble2005: BBC was forced to defend Paxman andHumphreys in front of House of Lords SelectCommitteePoliticians complained they were „not givensufficient respect and are often disparaged‟ 16
  17. 17. THE ROLEComplex rhetorical strategyFrequently they ask questions to which they already knowthe answer so as to further incriminate the respondent at alatter stage inquisitor Vs. interviewee viewers 17
  18. 18. THE ROLEShift their „footing‟ (Clayman, 1992, 2002):- institutional media representative- concerned citizen- oppositional party‟s position 18
  19. 19. JEREMY PAXMANLong career at the BBC (since 1977)Born in LeedsCurrently lives in affluent Oxfordshire andEarns in excess of £1 million per year from the BBC alone.One of his sisters is a producer for BBC RadioOne of his brothers is the British Ambassador to SpainPrivately educated at Malvern CollegeRead English at St Catherine‟s, Cambridge (Masters degree)BBC series Who Do You Think You Are revealed he wasdescended from 14th C politician Roger Packsman.Presents University ChallengeRegular on BBC Radio 4Published widely 19
  20. 20. PAXMAN’S PERSONAHiggens (2010: 100) claims what is significant is that „theform of engagement and mediated persona developed inpolitical programming is the very one that is used inUniversity Challenge‟The „public face‟ of „brand-Paxman‟ = highbrow intellectualAuthenticity is crucial to his success and to undermine this„front‟ is to damage the „brand‟ 20
  21. 21. JEREMY PAXMANA man of the people or a man for the people? 4:40 21
  22. 22. PAXMAN’S PERSONA…… Is to the disadvantage of any politician seeking todissemble, conceal, or tell outright lies… Designed to make politicians or the powerfuluncomfortable 22
  23. 23. CRITIQUEToo much emphasis on a confrontational mode ofengagement, and provides more a competition of witand obstinacy than a search for political meaning andconsistency (Barnett and Gaber 2001: 144)Jon Snow has suggested that there is an undueemphasis placed upon “cynicism” over “rigour”(quoted in Thorpe 2005). 23
  24. 24. CRITIQUEWhom does Paxman really serves in his interrogative role:the public or himself? 24
  25. 25. SUMMARYHow appropriate are public inquisitors for facilitating thepublic‟s right to know?Do they function as a proxy and is this an ideal when they maybe compromised by the requirement to build their own „brand‟Have they descended into shock tactics to solicit results fromtheir guests – our elected representatives?Do they represent the interest of the public, or some notional„public opinion‟ – a tool they frequently employ or brandish asjustification for their trade? 25
  26. 26. REFERENCESBarnett, S. and I. Gaber. 2001. Westminster Tales: The Twenty-First- Century Crisis in Political Journalism. London: Continuum.Blumler, J.G. and M. Gurevitch. 1995. The Crisis of Public Communication. London: Routledge.Clayman, S.E. 1992. “Footing in the Achievement of Neutrality: the Case of News-Interview Discourse.” In P. Drew and J. Heritage (eds)Talk at Work: Interaction in Institutional Settings, pp. 163–98. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Clayman, S.E. 2002. “Tribune of the People: Maintaining the Legitimacy of Aggressive Journalism.” Media, Culture & Society 24: 197–216.Cockerell, M. 2003. “Who is to blame for making us sick of politics?” The Guardian, February 4. Available online at,7493,888415,00.html.Franklin, B. 2004. Packaging Politics: Political Communications in Britain’s Media Democracy, 2nd edition, London: Arnold.Gnisci, A. and M. Bonaiuto. 2003. “Grilling Politicians: Politicians‟ Answers to Questions in Television Interviews and CourtroomExaminations.” Journal of Language & Social Psychology 22: 385–413.Habermas, J. 1992. “Further Reflections on the Public Sphere.” In C. Calhoun (ed.) Habermas and the Public Sphere, pp. 421–61.Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Jones, J.P. 2005. Entertaining Politics: New Political Television and Civic Culture. Oxford: Rowan and Littlefield.Louw, E. 2005. The Media and Political Process. London, Sage.Marshall, P.D. 2005. “Intimately Intertwined in the Most Public Way: Celebrity and Journalism.” In S. Allan (ed.) Journalism: CriticalIssues, pp. 19–29. Maidenhead: Open University Press.McNair, B. 2000. Journalism and Democracy: An Evaluation of the Political Public Sphere. Routledge: London.Montgomery, M. 2007. The Discourse of Broadcast News. Abingdon: Routledge.Norris, P. 2000. A Virtuous Cycle: Political Communications in Postindustrial Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Postman, N. 1987. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. London: MethuenRoss, K. 2004. “Political Talk Radio and Democratic Participation: Caller Perspectives on Election Call.” Media, Culture & Society 26:785–801.Schudson, M. 1995. The Power of News. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Street, J. 2004. “Celebrity Politicians: Popular Culture and Political Representation.” British Journal of Politics & International Relations6: 435–52.Temple, M. 2008. The British Press. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Thorpe, V. 2005. “Snow wants Paxman to show respect.” The Observer, April 17, p. 12. 26