Reporting Wikileaks and surveillance in the media.

Framing Glenn Greenwald: Hegemony and the NSA/GCHQ surveillance scandal in a news interview

Reporting Wikileaks and surveillance in the media frame national security as the main concern for citizens. Here we see how Wikileaks and Glenn Greenwald framed by the BBC in an analysis of an interview.

The television news interview is a crucial part of the circulation and contestation of ideas in public media. It serves to provide an opportunity for key figures to explain events, ideas and experiences, whilst giving the interviewer the opportunity to enquire and challenge received wisdom. Such is the role of interviewing in the contemporary news environment that Ekström et al. (2010) have referred to ours as ‘the interview society’.

As the interview became part of the news environment, it developed into a central part of news consumption, circulating throughout a range of media, most notably with newspapers and television news forming articles out of interviews published elsewhere.

The techniques of interview should be considered crucial dialogic practices in terms of how lines of questioning – the ‘what to think about’ – and rhetorical devices can frame events, ideas and experiences. The interview itself is of course already set in a more general hegemonic framework of interpretation, which impacts on how the interview itself might unfold, and through which events and actors may be positioned, the boundaries of ‘legitimate’ questioning are set, and which influences interpretation. More recently tele-vision interviews are circulated on video sharing websites and social media networks for engagement, promotion and critique. These forms of circulation have increased the significance of the already important interview in the personality-focused news environment.

This article analyses a key television interview in the context of a significant controversy – the US National Security Agency (NSA)/UK Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) surveillance scandal. The interview analysed here took place between Kirsty Wark, the long-time presenter of the BBC’s flagship current affairs magazine programme Newsnight, and Glenn Greenwald, the former WikiLeaks activist and then Guardian journalist who broke the story. The twelve-minute interview took place on 4 October 2013, following several months of intense media coverage of and political discourse on the scandal.

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