Roles and identities in news interviews: The Israeli context

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The paper discusses the complex interrelations between social roles, interactional roles and personal identities in mediated political talk, focusing on news interviews in the Israeli context. Following Goffman's (1974) notion of multiplicity of roles and the person-role continuum, I propose to explore role-perception in media-talk in contexts other than news interviews, and to analyse the negotiation of role within the framework of news interviews. The discussion draws on two sets of data: (a) an open corpus of meta-comments made by prominent journalists and leading political figures in the Israeli media (radio, dailies and television); (b) a 24-h corpus of news interviews, i.e., 48 half an hour shows of the daily program erev xadash ("New Evening"), broadcast daily at 5 p.m. on Israel national television, channel one. The analysis shows that television critics, leading journalists, prominent TV hosts and political figures are highly concerned with interactional as well as social rights and obligations, and with potential clashes between them and their personal identities. The corpus of meta-talk outside news interviews indicates that personalities and situations are commonly evaluated by public figures in terms of the duality of personal identity and social obligations, and that the requirements of interactional and social roles in news interviews are often seen as conflicting. Within news interviews, the corpus indicates explicit references to interactional expectations, slightly attenuated, either in response to violations or in order to set the contract of communication. Social expectations are set up at the interviewers' opening turns. In the course of the interview, implicit role-negotiations are at the heart of the interview, but only rarely are they put on record.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-179
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Challenge
  • Identities
  • Israeli television
  • News interviews
  • Roles


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