BreMM19 | Du Bois

Inke Du Bois
Bremen University | Bremen, Germany

Multiactivity in complex work settings- the media production of the ARD Sport Schau

This presentation investigates how the successful synchronization of  multiple tasks operates in a highly mediated and spatially distributed workplace to produce maximally effective communication under extreme time constraints.  Several excerpts from a 33- hours video corpus of the production of the German ARD Sports Show are examined. In these excerpts, the soccer commentator and his assistant plan the production and sequence of the live commentary for the ARD Sports Show, a program aired on Saturday nights on German public TV. The soccer stadium with its audience ranks and field represents the larger speech setting in this communicative situation. In this speech setting, the interactants communicate face-to-face, via radio switchboard and mobile phone. Cameras provide different perspectives on the soccer field and the fan blocks. The references in the multiparty interaction include different anchoring points, screens and conceptual grounds (Broth, 2009; Hanks 2001; Stukenbrock, 2015). Within this complex setting, the commentator, who is also the director at the soccer stadium, plans the live commentary for the ARD Sports Show with his team.

TV station work is a mediated and spatially distributed workplace. The interactants work under strong performance and time pressure when live on air transmissions are produced. In TV production team work, multiactivity and foreshadowing are necessary to function under time pressure. Multiple time scales (Haddington et al. 2014) and planning of the future media product (e.g. a live commentary with corresponding video clips of a soccer game) require that the director perform parallel activities to coordinate the tasks at hand with the team (e.g. director, technicians, camera people) while he is planning which episodes of the 90 minute game will be shown, and additionally, which information of the players or fans will be reported and shown in the 11 minute live clip.

In the presentation, I will show how verbal and embodied features of interaction contribute to multitasking and how this could be applied to larger corpora.


Broth, M. (2008). The studio interaction as a contextual resource for TV-production. Journal of Pragmatics, 40(5), 904-926.

Haddington, P., Keisanen, T., Mondada, L., & Nevile, M. (Eds.). (2014). Multiactivity in social interaction: Beyond multitasking. John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Norris, S. (2004). Analyzing multimodal interaction: A methodological framework. Routledge.

Norris, S. (2011). Three hierarchical positions of deictic gesture in relation to spoken language: a multimodal interaction analysis. Visual Communication, 10(2), 129-147.

Stukenbrock, A. (2015). Deixis in der face-to-face-Interaktion (Vol. 47). Walter de Gruyter.


Inke Du Bois studied English and Spanish linguistics at the Universities of Kiel (Germany), Barcelona (Spain) and San Francisco (USA). She received her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and has held three visiting professorships. She published several books on multilingualism, identity and immigration. Her recent research focus has been linguistic discrimination in social life.Together with Nicole Baumgarten (University of Sheffield), she was granted the British Academy Award of the Humanities and Social Sciences: Tackling the UK’s International Challenges Programme for a Study on Linguistic Profiling on the Housing Market.  Her recent project deals with multimodal interaction of the journalistic planning of the “ARD Sports Show”, a weekly show on the professional football ligue.

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