Week 5 Workbook Activity – Consider institutional talk in detail

This week we have been asked to compare a news interview with an entertainment interview while consider the following questions; How was the interview introduced, what types of questions were asked? How was the potential of conflict managed (if any)? Was humour evident, and how? How did the interview conclude? And what were the differences? Please see below my responses to this task.


The news interview that was chosen for this activity was the December 2011, 60 Minutes interview with Barack Obama1 regarding his accomplishments and challenges that he faces as he begins his quest for re-election1.

How was the interview introduced?
The interview was introduced by the news presenter who gave a spiel about Barrack Obama and what the interview would touch on. Then the interview took place where the interviewer, Steve Kroft, thanked Barack from his time and then got underway with the interview.

What types of questions were used?
The interview was a hard news story; therefore, the questions asked started out serious, due to the subject on hand, and remained serious throughout the duration of the interview. The questions asked during the interview were quite lengthy and had great depth and meaning to Barack. Most of the time Steve, the interviewer, asked more than one question. When watching the interview you can see that Steve only asks the question he has been told to ask but words the question to reflect the current mood of interview which. This observation explains why the questions were so lengthy. You can automatically tell that these questions held great meaning to Barack reflecting his ability to understand the context of every question asked subsequently leading to a prompt and very lengthy, in depth answer.

How was the potential of conflict managed (if any)?
I wouldn’t necessarily say there was conflict throughout the interview; however, there was a lot of heated discussion. In the heat of the interview Steve, the interviewer, would ask a question and Barack would cut him off with his hasty reply. This was the same situation when Barack was trying to give a reply to a question. When Steve, the interviewer, saw a chance to ask another question or grasp a hold of some information he would automatically speak over the top of Barack. It was if they were having a mini debate.

At one stage Steve stated “Look, you gave up a lot. You said you wanted a balanced approach. You didn’t get it. You cut a trillion dollars and set up the framework to cut another trillion plus and the Republicans gave up nothing. I mean, there are people in your own party who think that you were outmanoeuvred, 2” to try and diffuse conflict Barack was prompt with his response to the statement saying “Right. Steve, you’ve got to get your story straight, though. The first argument was that I don’t compromise at all. Now you’re saying I gave up too much.3” Barack was straight to the point and remembered a previous statement made by Steve which he used in his defence.

Wow, so confident yet so comfortable. He truly is a great communicator.

Was humour evident, and how?
The use of humour was not present throughout the duration of the interview as the topic of discussion was quite serious. Humour would not have been accepted as there was no place for it in the interview and it would have been frowned upon.

How did the interview conclude?
This segment was not the full version of the interview with Barack Obama, therefore, the interview concluded with a final question. After President Obama gave his reply the interview ceased and the program went to an ad break. I would imagine that behind the scenes Barack Obama would have been thanked for his time and so on.


The second interview, entertainment orientated, was a radio interview conducted by Hamish and Andy with Will Farrell2. The interview was carried out in recognition of Will Farrell’s new movie ‘Land of the Lost2’ and also the fact that it was Andy’s birthday. This type of interview is called a very soft news as it does not deal with serious, formal events. It’s very laid back and very casual. The interview was taken the night before as Will appeared on Rove Live.

How was the interview introduced?
The interview was introduced on Hamish and Andy’s afternoon radio segment where the men begin to talk about Will. Andy states “If you don’t know Will….. In fact, I go to my mum; we have Will Farrell on the show tonight and when I got home mum said so how did Will Fellow go? 4” This then leads to some laughter.

Hamish then introduced Farrell’s new film ‘Land of the Lost5’ who plays a scientist who figures how to slide into another dimension in prehistoric times. Music cuts in and plays for a few second which transition the listeners to the interview.

What types of question were asked?
After listening to the interview, and nearly crying of laughter, I realised that the interview did not consist of very many questions. Hamish and Andy tended to say statements regarding movie in which Will would them continue on with. For example, Hamish states “I think the movie inaccurately portrays the level of skill to invade a torenosoruous because you do outrun him a fair bit6″ Will then continues with his thoughts on Hamish’s statement. The only real question that was asked was ‘You sing in the film, is there a go to track for karaoke? 7′

How was the potential for conflict managed, (if any)?
There was no conflict throughout the duration of the interview as it was really just based on humour. Even though this was an interviewed regard Farrell’s new film, there were very little questions asked and when there was it had no real serious relation to the movie. After listening to the interview I felt as though I had only limited knowledge of what the movie was about; however, the information that was given was conveyed in a humorous way. Hamish and Andy are comedians and known for their humour and when they conduct interviews with celebrities, the celebrities usually reciprocate this humour. During the interview with Farrell, I found myself not only laughing at Hamish and Andy but also Farrell as well.

How did the interview conclude?
The interview did not conclude like a hard new interview would. Hamish and Will presented Andy with a cake for his birthday and Ando stated “Everyone put their hands and let’s do this for every birthday from now on, 8” Will then replied “Err, I’m pretty busy9”. Everyone started laughing and the interview was over.

What were the main differences, if any, between the types of interviews?
The differences between both types of interviews are evident in the answers above. The most evident difference would be the hard, soft news factor. Hard news interviews ask particular types of questions in order to sustain particular answers that provide the information in which its audiences want to here. Theses interviews only ever relate to serious and formal issues are very well put together in order to achieve its intended purpose. Very little to no humour is experienced throughout hard news interviews due to the nature of the discussion topic. On the other hand, soft news stories are very casual and consist of loads of humour because it necessarily about the information factor but the entertainment value. If a soft news interview gives its listeners very little information about something but make listeners laugh then it has been a success. The questions asked within a soft new interview are short and simple and sometimes only come across as statements to encourage a conversation style interview. There are so many more evident differences and I could go on for ages; however, the fact of the matter is one is purely information based and the other entertainment based.

1778hh, “60 Minutes – President Obama (December 11, 2011)”, YouTube. Online video clip, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOVdukrqwr4 (accessed July 13, 2012).
4Bliiss14, “Hamish and Andy: Will Ferrell Interview Part 1”, YouTube. Online video clip, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zec-2Ni3_ok (accessed July 13, 2012).


Please note: YouTube clips do not feature in the reference list according to the Turanbian referencing table found at https://www.avondale.edu.au/Departments::Library::Endnote_Turabian.pdf


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