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Entitlement and sincerity in broadcast interviews about Princess Diana.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date03/2000
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Journal number2
Volume22
Number of pages19
Pages167-185
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Vox pop interviews were used extensively in British broadcast coverage of the death and funeral of Princess Diana. They were one of several ways that public expression of emotion was defined as an important part of the events of the week. Some commentators criticized this attention to the public response, rather than on new information and formal events, as an excessive and sentimental part of a loss of proper perspective. This criticism raises two issues in the relation of media events to everyday experience - entitlement of members of the public to feel overpowering emotion at the loss of someone they knew only through media, and the sincerity of expressions of emotion when ordinary people are faced with microphones and a camera. I argue here that such criticisms miss the ways interviewees packaged their responses with an awareness of just such criticisms. Interviewees showed entitlement by presenting themselves as speaking for ordinary people, linking their responses to the place and time, and tying their stories into their everyday activities or to historic events. They showed sincerity by presenting their feelings as atypical for them, by acknowledging apparent clichés, and by emphasizing Diana's own sincerity. Analysis of interviewees' reflexive sense of performance shows how `intimacy at a distance' can make public involvement a component of media events.