Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862
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The design of questions in news interviews and news conferences has proven to be an illuminating window into the tenor of press-state relations. Quantitative studies have charted aggregate variations in adversarial questioning, but less is known about variations in the intensity of adversarialness within any particular question. Such variation is captured by the vernacular distinction between “hardball” versus “softball” questions. Hardballs advance an oppositional viewpoint vigorously, while softballs do so at most mildly. In this paper we investigate recurrent language practices through which journalists modulate the oppositionality of a question, thereby either hindering or facilitating response. The objective is to better understand how adversarialness is enacted in direct encounters between politicians and journalists.


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