Week 5 – Consider institutional talk in detail

Workbook Activity 2: Compare a news interview with an entertainment-oriented interview.

According to Ames (2018, p. 3), a news interview is institutional talk which is conducted by a professional journalist or host in a public forum, and therefore, designed to be heard by an audience.

Entertainment-orientated interviews often follow the same formula, however, the interviewer normally seeks a reaction different to that of a news interview, which they elicit by utilising specific enquiries (Ames, 2018, p. 3).

There are also generally differences between news and entertainment interviews with the way in which the interviewer and their interviewee perform according to their ‘roles’, as well as the way the interviewee is introduced, what kind of questions they are asked, and how any potential discord is handled (Ames, 2018, p. 3).

These differences were clearly identifiable in the news interview and entertainment-orientated interview I viewed today, both of which were aired on Channel Ten’s The Project (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

The news interview that I watched was in relation to the decommissioning of the coal-fired Liddell Power Station, which is due to occur in 2022 (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

As the decommissioning has become a bit of a political hot potato – of course, considering the state of our politics – the interview was conducted with Sarah Martin, the Federal Political Editor for The West Australian newspaper.

Host Waleed Aly (The Project, n.d.) begins the interview by introducing Martin as “political reporter Sarah Martin” (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

Aly then cuts straight to the heart of the issue at hand, which is whether or not keeping the Liddell Power Station open will help reduce the rising costs of electricity in New South Wales (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

Martin mentions in her response that the ACCC, or Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, has been strongly advocating against the closure of the Liddell plant, as they believe that the more competition there is in the energy market, the more prices will be forced down for consumers (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

Guest personality Meshel Laurie (The Project, n.d.) uses this answer as an opportunity to inject some humour into the interview.

She responds to Martin in a very sarcastic tone that “the [Federal] Government works for consumer, so surely… it’s their perspective that whatever… [puts] pressure on prices is the thing to do” (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

 As Laurie’s statement is a bit of a dig at the Federal Government, Martin also responds with humour to avoid any potential conflict, jokingly replying, “Well, you would hope so” (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

The interview relied heavily on turn taking (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, p. 215, cited in Ames, 2018, p. 3), with three interviewers asking Martin questions over the space of the short interview (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

The interview seemed to conclude very abruptly, with Aly waiting until Martin was finished talking about the introduction of a potential federal energy policy, and then saying, “Sarah, thank you very much” (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

I feel like a bit more could have been done to neatly end the interview, such as saying something like, “Well, Sarah, thanks so much for your time today”, or something like that.

The second interview that I watched was an entertainment-orientated one with Canadian country singer, Shania Twain (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

Twain was introduced by host Lisa Wilkinson (The Project, n.d.) saying enthusiastically, “Please welcome Shania Twain!”

This interview contained a lot more humour than the news interview, which was evident in the way the interviewers worded and delivered their questions (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

It also relied heavily on personal questions about Twain’s personal life and career to date, and was therefore was less serious in tone than the news interview (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

Wilkinson’s question for Twain was in regards to her reusing an iconic outfit from a previous video clip in her one of her new video clips (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

She asked Twain, “Have you had that baby hiding in your closet the whole time?” in a very upbeat, boppy tone (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

Humour was also used when guest personality Laurie (The Project, n.d.) asked about Twain’s complicated love life, in an effort to avoid any conflict.

Laurie very casually and jokingly describes how Twain’s best friend and husband became romantically involved, and Twain then subsequently became romantically involved with her best friend’s ex-husband, then asks Twain, “How’s it going, girl?”, which makes everyone, including Twain, laugh (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

Aly relies heavily on humour to steer towards the interview’s conclusion, joking with Twain that she should hire a group called the “Shania Choir” to be her Australian opening act (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

When Twain conceded that she might have to, Aly replied “Well, I’m taking that as an official offer” (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018). He then rounds out the conclusion by saying “…It’s been a joy. Would you please thank Shania Twain!” (Whitty, Kennett, Holt & McGinlay, 2018).

This conclusion was much less abrupt than the news interview, and I thought it was therefore more effective at tying up what had been discussed.


Ames, K. (2018). COMM12033 Speech & Script – Week 5: Institutional Talk. Rockhampton: CQUniversity.

The Project. (n.d.) The Team. Retrieved from https://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project/the-team

The Project. (n.d.) Writers. Retrieved from https://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project/writers

Whitty, T., Kennett, C., Holt, W., & McGinlay, D. (Writers). (2018). Friday 06 Apr [Television series episode]. In C. Campbell (Producer), The Project. Retrieved from https://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project


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