Author Biography

James L. Leighter (Ph.D., University of Washington) is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Creighton University. Dr. Leighter is principally concerned with the ways in which local community decision-making occurs and how such decision-making is shaped and colored by culture and communication. He teaches undergraduate courses in cultural, group, interpersonal and public communication. Dr. Leighter currently works as a consultant, facilitator and researcher for the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities. In these roles, he shares the Institute1s vision of more sustainable rural and urban communities across the state of Nebraska.

Theresa Castor (Ph.D., University of Washington) is an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Her research areas are in Organizational Communication, and Language and Social Interaction. She analyzes organizational decision- making using interpretive discourse analytic methods. More specifically, Theresa examines talk during organizational meetings in educational institutions and how that talk contributes to the social construction of reality and the construction of organizational culture. She is also the faculty advisor to the Parkside Association of Communicators. Her research has appeared in Management Communication Quarterly, Journal of Business Communication, and Communication Teacher.


The goal of this essay is to illustrate how the investigation of one communicative phenomenon, metacommunication or talk about communication, can be a resource for understanding and evaluating public meetings and public participation. Such talk about communication is ubiquitous in public discourse (Craig, 2005). Participants in public meetings sometimes talk at great length about what can be said, how it can be said and by whom. In the analysis of the North Omaha Development Project (NODP) public meeting, we chose to focus on two categories of metacommunication: linguistic action verbs or LAVs (Dirven, et al., 1982) and terms for talk (Carbaugh, 1989). In examining LAVs, we focus specifically on participant uses of the verbs “talk,” “tell,” and “say.” The term for talk we examine is participant uses of the term “meeting”. We believe that the examination of these two categories of metacommunication prove to be insightful about this particular public meeting and, taken together, provide a rich (if incomplete) picture of the ways in which the participants themselves framed, textured and judged the NODP public meeting.