Conversationalisation and Language

Accent and Delivery

A message is encoded with particular meanings so it can be decoded by the receiver. However, while message does not change, its delivery can influence how it is received.

Fluency Effect refers to the idea that the easier the message is to understand, the more truthful it is perceived. A person from Dublin may consider a news broadcast to be truthful if it reported by a clear spoken, native Irish person rather than a person with a foreign accent.

Conversational analysis: Interviews

Formulation is a method of managing an interview. Usually performed by the interviewer, formulation involves the audience in the interview by summarising what the interviewee is saying. While this may be seen as ‘stupification’ it is a tool to ensure that the content of the interview is controlled and understood by the audience.

Violation is when the interviewee defies the interviewer and doesn’t answer the question asked. This violation can result in the interviewee changing the topic and discussing their own talking points.

An example of this:

Is the interviewer maintaining a stance of ‘formal neutrality’? Or can we see some form of bias?

We can see some form of bias in Paxmans interview. Paxmans questioning leads in such a way that Howard is now in a corner and must answer the question “Did you threaten to overrule him?”. It is clear that Paxman and his show had an agenda to get Howard to answer that question and incriminate himself.

How are the questions being answered by the interviewee?

It doesn’t appear as those Howard is reading from a script. He may have had set talking points but he does speak as if he hasn’t rehearsed. His communication feels natural as if he is speaking with a friend about arbitrary things.

Has the interviewee answered the specific question that has been asked?

No. Howard’s answers dance around the question, without actually answering it.

What approach is the interviewee using, if any, to avoid an answer to a specific question?

After Paxman asks “Did you threaten to overrule him?” numerous times, we can see Howard begins changing the narrative. Instead, Howard points out that the question is “what was I entitled to do”. This is clearly not the question Paxman continually asks, but Howard answers his own question and the interview moves on.

Is the interviewer allowing this to happen (violation) or are they pushing for an answer to a question? 

Paxman is pushing for an answer to his question. At one point, Paxman insists “I’m looking for a yes or no” in an attempt to get his answer.

Can we see the use of language within the interview being influenced by the perceived social context of the ‘target audience’

The language is, although it feels conversational, quite formal. Howard speaks as though his audiences are more than aware of political jargon and the names of figures involved in the recent events. This suggests that the target audience would be those educated in political issues with an interest in these stories.

What is Discourse?

Discourse is not a tangible thing, it is a process. While you may not be able to point at something in a text and say “that is discourse” you can point at evidence of a discourse. We see discourse in language and text itself.

The language used in society is evident of a discourse present. For example in Ireland, we use the word ‘wagon’. Our cultural agreement is that this word has two meanings, a literal wagon with wheels etc. This would perhaps be agreed upon in other cultures too. However, if you were to say “You’re a wagon” the discourse is that this word is offensive and insulting. The discourse in Irish society is that “Wagon” is a slang term directed at women.

Discourse can influence how people perceive reality. The power the media has in shaping this discourse is evident in its effects on society.  Media Discourse can be found when the receiver of the content, break down the text and analysis the subtext.





When examining the role of media in society as well as media bias, we focused on the news. A 2005 documentary titled Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism takes a look at the man behind the media. Outfoxed tells the story of the rise of Rupert Murdoch as a media mogul. Once at the top, his power and influence is questions by the creators of the documentary. This blog will analysis both the content of the documentary and the documentary itself.

Focusing primarily on Murdoch’s Fox News, the documentary notes the use of this “Fair and Balanced” slogan often used by Fox News. However, critics in the documentary argue that this slogan is irrelevant. There is an “appearance of being balanced” when in fact, the report has an agenda.

The documentary gives numerous examples of how the news organisation conducts itself. A daily memo is distributed internally with this “message of the day”. This message will be the agenda for all those in the organisation. Who writes these memos and their intention or agenda is biased, and therefore the media outlet could consequently produce biased news products. If Murdoch himself controls the message of the day, then we should question the news stories we consume.

Often reporters take liberties to insert opinions yet portraying them as facts. “Some people say” is a broad statement that allows the reporter to voice their own opinions on an issue or story. Using this generalised term suggests the reporter is bringing the public’s discussions into the report.

The documentary itself is clearly taking a stance against Murdochs business practices, in particular how Fox News conducts itself as a news organisation. While alluding to media ownership, the documentary paints a negative picture of Fox News. While it may be presenting facts, it is encoded in such a way that the audience will see a negative side to the news organisation. This bias is somewhat hypocritical and doesn’t allow for a well-rounded perspective.



Outfoxed • Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism • FULL – YouTube



In today’s media landscape, there seems to be a debate about what is newsworthy and what is just filler on our screens. For a story to be newsworthy, it should be of interest or importance to the public. Spencer-Thomas uses the concept of news values when establishing if a story is newsworthy. This news value is used by journalists to decide how much attention to give a story, whereas newsworthiness depends on both the type of media mediating the content and the type of person receiving the content.

When looking at a piece of text, it is important to consider Gaultung and Ruge (1996) list of news values.

  1. Extrodinaries: is this story out of the ordinary?
  2. Threshold: is this story large, in both content and potential audience size?
  3. Unambiguity: is this story palatable to the audience?
  4. Reference to an elite person: is this story involving a well know individual?
  5. Reference to an elite nation: is this story involving a country with considered importance to the audience?
  6. Personalisation: is this story made clear to the audience by giving a human face to each side of the story?
  7. Frequency: is this story immediate with subsequent follow ups?
  8. Narrative: is this story presenting a story itself?
  9. Negative:  is this story considered bad news?
  10. Fear Based: is this story offering fear as an incentive to watch?

When we look at news stories, we must take into account 5 key considerations as to why we are being presented with these stories. I will analysis the following text under these 5 points as well as note the stories news value.

Who created the message?

RTÉ news, the national broadcaster, reports the effects of storm Desmond as it tackles the West of Ireland. The message is both informative, as it tells the facts of the storms path, and cautious as it warns viewers of the dangers of traveling in the storm.

What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

The reporter, Teresa Mannion, presence in the ‘eye of the storm’ is creative in its ability to convey realism. Instead in studio report, or a series of graphics recorded pre-broadcast, RTÉ chose to show a Mannion live in the areas affected by the storm. The message takes on a sense of dramatics when we hear the Mannion’s tone of voice.

How might different people understand this message differently than me?

Some viewers may have decoded the message as informative and cautious, this is how I first understood the message. However, as a result of this report, a series of remixes and memes appeared online. This is to say, that some people saw past the report and found humor in Mannion’s delivery of the report.

What values, lifestyles, and points of view are represented in or omitted from this message?

The mention of how Mass services have been canceled shows that importance given to religion. However, the report failed to mention if schools would be operating. This priority given to church over school may be reflective of what RTÉ deemed newsworthy.

Why is this message being sent?

The storm would have happened with or without this report. However, the message may be of national interest as it gives a full account of the effect of the storm. This is informative as many in the country may be in areas that have not been impacted yet and may want to prepare. It could be seen as a warning to all viewers by highlighting the severity.

When looking at the news values of the story, we look once again at the list.

  1. Extrodinaries: This story of a storm would be a rare occasion so it could be considered out of the ordinary.
  2. Threshold: This is a large story as it affects the country.
  3. Unambiguity: An easy to digest story with real world examples and images.
  4. Reference to an elite person: No
  5. Reference to an elite nation: Yes
  6. Personalisation: Yes, the Teresa Mannion herself and her presence in the storm gives a human face to the story and its effects.
  7. Frequency: it is mentioned that the story is developing live so yes there could be follow-ups.
  8. Narrative: A story is constructed as a result of the events.
  9. Negative:  This can be considered a bad news story as we hear of flooding, power failure, and property damage.
  10. Fear Based: Yes as viewers are assured, more than once, to remain indoors and if they do have to leave the home to proceed with caution.

Circuit of Culture CA1

In February 2016, a shooting took place at the Regency Hotel in Dublin, Ireland. The following is an analysis of the news report that took place 24hours after the fact. While there is a substantial amount of content in this 4 minutes 14-second piece of text, I will be analysing it in relation to the circuit of culture.


The report is introduced by a reporter at RTE. It begins in the studio and then a package is mediated to the audience detailing the events of the previous 24 hours narrated by reporter Paul Reynolds. The report then cuts back to the studio where the reporter once again takes us to the scene at the regency hotel, however, this time Paul Reynolds reports live. Throughout the report, this is no music. A somber tone is created through the tone of voice of both reporters and those interviewed. A number of visual texts appear on the screen such as photographs and videos. The videos contain no sound as the narration continues. The only audio is that of the voices of the reporters, the assistant commissioners and the Archbishop of Dublin.

The presence of the Archbishop of Dublin in the report is an interesting point of this examination. In the introduction of the piece, the reporter states that the Archbishop has “called on people to stand up to the despicable inhumanities of the recent killings”. Later in the report, the Archbishop is seen and heard in a pre-recorded interview where he says “Just imagine the effects yesterday’s events has on children”. Weight is seemingly given to the Archbishop’s opinions on not only this attack but his opinion of all “recent killings”.

The use of the plural “inhumanities” and “Killings” suggests more than one person has been killed. However, the report is only telling the audience about one killing. It is possible that the Archbishop is referring to the culture at the time of this report where a number of shootings had occurred involving gang members. The language used in his statement creates this tone of fear in response to the shooting.

An example of the presence of discourse is the use of the words “well known to the Gardai”. The connotation associated with these words is reliant on your cultural background. Someone in Ireland may understand the message as it was intended, however someone from the UK who understands that the Gardai are the police force in Ireland may not understand the message. Using “well known to the Gardai” when introducing the victim in the text is giving the audience the idea that this man may have been a criminal before the facts later confirm this. It is important to state that the report omits who the identity of the other two victims. While it does mention that they were hospitalised with one victim already checked out, it does not tell us if these individuals were also “well known to the Gardai”.
This is an RTE News report. RTE being the national broadcaster of Ireland, funded and owned by the public, it is a public service broadcaster. We have two RTE Reporters, one female sitting in the studio and one male who is the consistent voice of the story throughout.

Inserts of clips are used to show the response from others. We have a possible press conference where three different assistant commissioners speak.
Jack Nolan – Dublin Region
John O’Mahony – Crime and Security
Derek Byrne – Garda National support services

Hearing from individuals of their status suggests that the information they are giving is trusted and worthy of audiences attention.

The use of video inserts in the package is important in the process of communication. In one video, We see men emerge from a car holding folders. This event is innocuous on its own, however, the narration by the reporter Paul Reynolds tells us that “over 100 officers are on the case”. This changes the meaning of the event. The producers of the content may have linked these two pieces of media to create a coherent narrative. When the audience decodes this information it can be understood that these men emerging from the car are some of the officers put on the case.

While this is an example of footage gathered in the aftermath of the shooting, we also see archived footage used to give context to the story. Footage of a reported crime scene in Spain from the previous year. This use of archived footage gives backstory to the current narrative that the report is establishing.

Images of the gunmen are reported with relation to recent terrorist attacks in Europe. These images further emphasise the reality of the event as threatening and almost surreal at the same time. The images of the gunmen back up the story told by the reporter that gunmen entered the building in masks and helmets. Now that the gunmen can be seen, it creates a more vivid picture of the event itself for those who did not witness it first hand. However, out of context, these images look like they could be a behind the scenes look at an action movie. It is the combination of audio and visual that gives structure to the story.


This video is being analysised over a year after it was first broadcast. The story itself has not changed. The content of the report has not changed. However the urgency and somewhat fearful tone could be lost in translation. If consumed live, the notion that “the number of Gardai on patrol in the city has increased” could suggest that further attacks are imminent and the Gardai are preparing for these possible attacks. A year later, when I am consuming this report, I know what happened afterward. It is in the past and therefore I do not interpret the content in the same way as someone who watched it live on Feb 7th, 2016.


No graphic images were used in the report suggesting that this could have been broadcast pre-watershed, perhaps the six one news.

Alternative realities

33-year-old man killed in attack
If this had been a murder without gangland associations, it is possible the focus could have been on the victim rather than the attackers. Friends or neighbors of the victim, in this case, David Byrne, may have been interviewed. We could have seen tributes left at the scene such as flowers. Perhaps some more about his personality rather than his associations with crime.

Lack of Garda protection lead to violent shooting
It could have been reported as a failure of the Gardai to prevent this attack in the first place. Throughout the report, it is said that Gardai have increased their numbers in response to this attack. In contrast, it is not reported if Gardai were present at the event itself. At one point, Assistant commissioner – Derek Byrne notes that there were increased amounts of Gardai in the city for sporting events. It is possible he is referring to Dublin vs Mayo in Croke Park, however, the Regency hotel was to host a boxing match the night after the attack. The attack took place during a pre-match event. So is the Assistant Commissioner suggesting that only some sports events are policed or that the pre-events are not policed as heavily?

In conclusion, a broader analysis could be done to fully understand the encoding process involved in the production of this new broadcast. For now, I feel that analysing the report using the circuit of culture structure has allowed me to understand the piece from a media analysis point of view.


#1: Flowers

Today was yet another reminder that my understanding of myself remains in its infancy.

Walking through Dublin City Centre, I blended in with all the others. Men and Women busying themselves, walking to work, just as I was. No one looked at each other, we remained occupants of our own minds while sharing a physical space for a period of time. I spotted a man selling flowers, just across from The Spire. It was in this moment that I remembered it was my mother’s birthday the following day.

After work, I returned to cluttered streets to buy flowers. My mother’s favourite flowers are Lillies, so I bought lilies. While my knowledge of floral varieties and arrangements is as small as my number of purchases of flowers over the years, I do know this; my mother’s favourite flowers are lilies. Now the fact that these flowers are lilies or that they are my mother’s favourite are irrelevant, what is noteworthy is the inexplicit feeling holding these flowers instilled in me.

Now meandering my way through a not dissimilar crowd as the morning, I received many a look from the passing strangers. Suddenly I was no longer the Kevin I had been up until this point, now I was a reinvention. A man walking through the metropolis with a bouquet in hand suggests a great deal of scenarios none of which I will ever be apart of. I became a man who was treating his girlfriend. I became a man who was buying a gift for his girlfriends birthday. I became a man who fucked up and was apologising to his girlfriend. I say, girlfriend because my age still gives some realism to my true character and it would be highly improbable that a man my age would have a wife or fiance in 2017 Ireland. Now it is entirely possible that a number of other scenarios entered the minds of the passing strangers in their 0.01-second analysis of me, such as the flowers were in fact for my mother or sister or female relative. However, I hypothesise that these notions would only follow the girlfriend scenarios in our cultural thinking.

The fact of the matter is, is that for a brief moment of time I felt normal.

The fleeting opinions of strangers and the innate understanding that men buy women flowers as a romantic gesture lead me to walk confidently through the streets of Dublin as a supposed heterosexual man. This raises a number of issues.

Men do not receive flowers. I have grown up with the typical gift in a marriage being alcohol or flowers. I would graciously and gleefully accept the former but in all honesty, I don’t know what I would do if I was given the latter.  It is not that I would feel emasculated, I would simply be at a loss having no precedent upon which to base my reaction. To the best of my knowledge, my father has never received flowers, although he has never complained about their presence in the home. In fact, he admires their smell as have I, yet neither one of us would ever think of buying flowers for ourselves or each other. Men do not receive flowers is a side effect of the male’s role in society which is a much larger issue and would require more than this blog post.

Men do not buy their boyfriends flowers. This follows on from the typical ‘who pays for dinner debate’. When society adapted to homosexual relationships and the customs associated with dating, it could be argued that the role of the man shifted. Now, who was to pay for dinner? The male’s role is to buy flowers, open the car door, pay for the meal and a kiss goodnight. In a nutshell, this is the procedure of dating, however as we know this is outdated. Yet the exchange of flowers was left in the past.

My argument is not that men should be drowned in roses and daffodils. My argument is that for a brief moment in time, I lived the normalities of a heterosexual male and judging by the looks from those around me, I was more attractive. Not in appearance, although the speckled babies breath in the bouquet did highlight my cheekbones, from my interpretation I was approved by society. I was, ironically, more masculine for carrying the flowers. What is perhaps more startling for me, is that I felt more comfortable in public than I would have if I had been holding another man’s hand. With that, the battle to discover the masculine homosexual continues.



In a society where content is constantly mediate to us, it can be difficult to separate the real from the fabricated. To understand how we got to this point it is important to look at the role of the media in society.

Using the metaphor of a mirror, we can discuss the purpose of the media in society. Ideally, the media is to mirror our society, as it is seen through our own perspective. A certain amount of trust is placed on news media in particular. We enter into an agreement that the news will mediate the facts as they are so that we can receive these facts as if we witnessed the story with our own eyes.  However, this is not the case. There can be confusion as to what is truly reality and what is presented as reality. Reality is what one sees with their own eyes. Yet the media packages content and “re-presents” this content as if it is reality. It is important to distinguish between what is the real and what is mediated as the real.

The media constructs reality by the mediating events. However, when we look at what occurs in society, it can be broken down into three events. Bourstein (1961) described the role of these events in the construction of reality.

Genuine Events are occurring regardless of media presence. An example of this is a Natural Disaster. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina still, would have occurred even if a camera wasn’t present to report on it. Events such as this will happen, and the media will report the event as it occurs.

Media Events are similar in that they are events that still would have occurred without media presence, yet the media packages the event for audiences to watch. This can alter the audiences decoding of the event. An example could be Sky News coverage of Micheal Jackson’s death in 2009. His death and subsequent fan reaction would have still occurred. However, the presence of cameras and Sky News’s constant updates from the hospital created a sensationalised version of events.

Pseudo-Events are events that only occur due to the media’s presence. An interview with a politician or celebrity can be hyped up in the lead up to the event to draw in an audience. The event itself may be presented as live or spontaneous, however, the questions would have been agreed upon, answers may have been prepared and graphics or inserts would have been ready to go. A fabricated reality is constructed and re-presented as reality.

The medias construction of reality is important to be concious of in society. The ability to question and analysis what is real can allow audiences to either accept or reject the content mediated.

It was Christmas eve…

This year is suspiciously lacking in Mistletoe and Wine. At least one of them must return and based on my current mood, I’d welcome the wine. While I may sound cynical, I must reassure you that I love Christmas more than any other holiday. It’s just hard to enjoy it when there is a hint of homophobia in the air.

In recent weeks a feeling has drifted through our collective souls as the opening bars of Fairytale in New York graced our auditory senses. It has become a gunshot, signaling the beginning of the holiday season. Nustling itself alongside the arrival of the Coca-Cola truck or the Toy Show, The ‘Greatest Christmas Song of All Time’ is now ingrained in our nation’s Christmas tradition. There’s a collective sense of pride when Ireland is recognised worldwide for an achievement. Having one of the greatest Christmas songs played countless times every year is the perpetual Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

Fairytale of New York is not your average Christmas song. It paints a bleak, depressing and yet hopeful version of Christmas day. I celebrate originality and in a genre littered with fluffy lyrics and happy messages, it is an audacious song and I admire that. So why in a song famous for it’s unusual lyrics, do I take issue with said lyrics? For that I provide some context;

The song was written at a time where, as you may regretfully remember, homosexuality was illegal in Ireland. Since then Ireland has become a more accepting and legally progressive country. In a move that shocked the world, Ireland passed the Marriage Equality Bill in the summer of 2015. Now not only is it legal to be a homosexual, you are considered equal to heterosexual couples.

When reviewing the lyrics of Fairytale in New York, the issue I have is the inclusion of the word ‘Faggot’. A derogatory term for the very people Ireland claims to accept. So Ireland celebrates May 22nd as a day where we became a progressive and loving Ireland. Six months later we are belting out the most notable homophobic slur with delight. Our national identity is inconsistent and consequently non-inclusive

We scream the word gleefully or spitefully yet we do not question the consequences. This word is used by playground bullies and in hate crimes. I, on occasion, have had the word spat at me in an attempt to degrade my being. Any decent citizen would be horrified if they witnessed someone throwing the term around in such a fashion, yet once the month of December rolls around all decorum is thrown out with the wrapping paper. The song is played on radio stations across the nation and yet ‘faggot’ is not bleeped out suggesting we do not see it as a swear word. By doing so we agree it is acceptable in society. It may be innocuous in the context, just as a particular event is ‘gay’, yet these words are used as insults.

Now there is a naysaying voice in the back of my head that protests against everything I have just written “It’s a song! Don’t be so PC!” Let’s call this voice Evan. Evan is the voice that gives me a more well-rounded perspective of life. I agree with Evan on this occasion, picking apart lyrics to find offensive terms seems somewhat juvenile. However, we have to reckon with ourselves and be aware of the kind of message this sends. Worldwide this is ‘that Irish Christmas song’ so we are voicing this homophobic message and telling the world that this is an acceptable term of phrase. So I ask you, and Evan, to consider this, When was the last time you used the N word when singing Eany, Meeny, Miny, Moe?  The very fact that I cannot even say the N word in this post reinforces my point.

We have changed with the times and so should our cultural bi-products. Not to please nitpicking people like me, but to protect and educate young LGBT teens who have to sit in silence while a room full of party goers sing ‘faggot’ with joy, although it may feel like a slap in the face. I myself have had this particular verse of the song directed at me as a ‘joke’. At a time of year when every song celebrates peace and love for all, be mindful of the message you are sending with this particular song.

Merry Christmas

A whole new world

Virtual Reality has been a difficult to technology to configure for many years now. Motorcycle helmets in the 90s. Full suits with cables attracted. Gloves, googles, you name it have all reached for the stars and fallen short, but just barely.

Virtual Reality is constantly improving and is being measured by an impossible ruler, IMG_1836science fiction movies. Can we achieve a successful and popular VR system when we constantly compare it to that of fiction.

I have been fortunate enough to try the oculus rift, a vr system in a modern time.
First I played a game, a simple island travel game that allows you to explore your environment in a 360 perspective. At one point, I was launched into the air high above my surroundings and began falling back to the island below. It was at this moment that my stomach lurched in my body. The physical feelings were triggered by this world removing the distance between virtual an physical reality.
I also got to showcase the new Samsung Gear, powered by Oculus (Pictured). Customers reacted to the surrounds of Jurassic Park physically. Many moved out of the way of the virtual dinosaur. Some jumped out of their seats. How VR messes with our perception is astonishing that while we know this is simply a technology over our eyes, we still get lost in the world created by the technology.

The samsung VR headset has released a video demonstrating how the headset can be used as a communications device. That parents could read bedtime stories to their children if they can’t be there physically.

The applications of VR are possible endless. Educationally, we can teach doctors about anatomy. Allow them to practice surgeries. Disabled people can explore the seven wonders of the world from the comfort of their own homes. However we must consider the distance the headset creates between reality and virtual reality.

If our whole world can be experienced in this headset. If our whole world, and beyond can be experience. If a man sees himself a rockstar on stage in an arena, then afterwards can stand on the pyramids in Egypt, why would he take off the VR Headset and return to his mundane, lonely life? Could we build an artificial existence that could potentially destroy our own lives?
To fear this technology may be as backwards thinking as those who feared the creation of the microwave. Its new and we know little about it, but to assume that VR could be good or evil is counterproductive. As humans we develop new technology for the betterment of human existence. So whatever happens next, VR will always be a creation of man, not a dictator of man.