The Discourse of Local Public Broadcasting Managers and Producers: The Speech Act amid Organizational Transition

Gerry Schlenker


South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) underwent a significant structural and organizational transition in the 1990s. This historical study describes the discursive activity of SDPB managers and producers amid that change. It also discusses a number of structural and historical arrangements that appear to have caused contradiction and conflict.


What follows is the transcribed discourse and speech act activity of several individuals involved in South Dakota Public Broadcasting including those in management, programming and production. It describes interaction during activities such as departmental strategic planning meetings, network reorganizational sessions, production meetings, interviews and Educational Telecommunications Board (ETB) meetings, as well as hallway conversations over many months.


Since Universal Pragmatics encourages attention to the representation of the external, internal and social worlds through language in the context of everyday life as it is lived (the lifeworld), these transcriptions provide substantive evidence for the analysis of how reality is constructed by these local public broadcasting managers and producers amid conflict and change.


Universal Pragmatics assumes that the presence of such "de-linguistified steering media" as power and money can replace language as a mechanism of social integration and therefore have a "disintegrative effect on the lifeworld (Habermas, 1984, 343). 


My previous article (IJHCS 1(4), 2015, pp. 469-490) held that various steering mechanisms can exist within institutions like South Dakota Public Broadcasting and can influence the relationships within them. It suggested that Universal Pragmatics could be used as a methodology for analyzing institutional cultures. This work is the second of three articles in a process that will put that methodology into practice.


The following historical analysis includes three segments concerning a time period during a year in which there was a resignation and replacement in the Executive Director position at South Dakota Public Broadcasting. This became a catalyst for total network reorganization. The three segments include (1) six months following the resignation of the Executive Director, (2) the arrival of the new Executive Director, and (3) three months following the arrival of the new Executive Director. 



Habermas, Universal Pragmatics, Ideal Speech Situation, Public Sphere, Culture, Democracy.

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