Word Watch: conversation • Journalists should reclaim the word “interview”

convoslashI’m not sure when it started, but the “conversation” bug seems to have infected everyone at CBC Radio, at least in Toronto.

It may have spread more widely, but I’m a dedicated CBC Radio listener, and the aural assault is the more noticeable than if it appears in print or is used on TV with the distraction of visuals.

The principal offenders here are Matt Galloway of CBC’s “Metro Morning” and Gill Deacon of “Here and Now” (the afternoon programme). They use the word to mean “public discourse” as well as “interview.” But never (or almost never) to mean the kind of informal talk the word connotes if not denotes.

True, a “conversation” is more formal than a “chat.”

But an “interview” is a formal exchange in which the roles are clearly delineated and there’s an objective: An interviewer is attempting to obtain information and to evaluate that information from an interviewee. One does not have a “conversation,” for journalistic purposes, with politicians, for example.

If you want to use “conversation” to mean “public discourse” — okay, I guess. But journalists should reclaim “interview.”~TM

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