Another dot in the blogosphere?

Reporting discourse analysis

Posted on: February 16, 2017

Last month I pondered on how I could use a YouTube video on Trump’s tweets to teach discourse analysis.

Earlier this week I chanced upon a video that might be used to illustrate how to report discourse analysis.


Video source

By relying on the expertise of a debate master, the creators of this video outlined how Kellyanne Conway deals with questions that get thrown her way and how she frustrates journalists.

Her strategies were to:

  1. Deflect by repeating keywords and going off on a tangent.
  2. Take advantage of the politeness of interviewers and their need to move on to other questions.
  3. Pass the buck when she did not have answers.
  4. Fabricate information.

These strategies were a result of basic analysis: Listening and watching videos of Conway, noting patterns, chunking patterns, and verifying patterns. That is a simplified version of a how-to of video content analysis.

What is valuable in this video is how the evidence was presented. The pattern was textbook: Present each main strategy, illustrate it once, illustrate it again, and explain it concisely to remove doubt.

As much as I would rather not have videos of Trump or Conway as fodder for learning these skills, they are a reminder that good things can emerge from bad if we know how to look. The content itself is emotionally charged and this can be leveraged on to create memorable lessons and to show novices how to be objective when it matters.

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