Talking about the news: News discussion panels. An analysis of the form and evolution of a broadcast news genre

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


George Comstock


News, Discussion panels, Broadcast news, Genre

Subject Categories

Communication | Journalism Studies | Mass Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Employing genre theory, a four-part typology of news types is formulated. The crux of the thesis revolves around one specific form, the News Discussion Panel (NDP). The NDP moves the spotlight from "source centered" news delivery in which the focus is on the essential actors of the story to "evaluator centered" where the main players are professional commentators and/or informed observers, who expand on the context and implications of an event or issue. Rather than portraying, making, or packaging news stories, the principal characteristics of the other major news forms, the news discussion panel's consummate feature is to "talk about the news."

The qualities, conventions, and structure of the news discussion panel is then developed at length. The attributes of the form is examined in light of much of the conventional wisdom, both popular and scholarly based, and measured against the commonly held, but conceptually sloppy generic categorization of political talkshows.

The essay then moves on to trace the origin and history of this news subgenre from its genesis in the form of the popular univocal analysis and commentary programming on early radio in conjunction with the widespread broadcasting of public forums, on through its transformation to a multivocal analytical and commentary panel in the television age. Special attention is given to the internal constraints of the medium combined with the external exigencies of the particular time that encouraged these alterations.

The analysis concludes with a survey from a selection of exemplars demonstrating the evolution in the variety of configurations the news discussion panel has taken over the course of the broadcasting era.


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