The political interview is supposed to be one of the cardinal moments when the news media contribute most directly to the quality of governance in a given country. Assuming that the media system is reasonably free, the political interview –particularly the broadcast versions on either radio or television – is a moment when the leading stars of the news media can:
- Make political leaders and other news makers throw a bright light on the leading issues of the day;
- Hold leaders accountable by asking tough questions regarding their stewardship of the affairs of the state; and
- Speak truth to power.
It is now increasingly recognized, however, that the political interview is in trouble, even outside authoritarian political contexts (where regimes control broadcasting fiercely). For an excellent recent take on the issue, please see this piece by Ian Katz, editor of BBC’s ‘Newsnight,’ ‘Boring Snoring?’