Captured by conventions: On objectivity and factuality in international news agency discourse

Tutkimustuotos: OpinnäyteVäitöskirjaArtikkelikokoelma

Abstrakti

The thesis explores the discourse of two global news agencies, the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters, which together with the French AFP are generally regarded as the world’s leading news distributors. A glance at the guidelines given by AP and Reuters to their journalists shows that these two news agencies make a lot of effort to strive for objectivity – the well-known journalistic ideal, which, however, is an almost indefinable concept.
In journalism textbooks definitions of “objectivity” often contain various com-ponents: detachment, nonpartisanship, facticity, balance, etc. AP and Reuters, too, in their guidelines, present several other ideals besides “objectivity”, viz., reliability, accuracy, balance, freedom from bias, precise sourcing, reporting the truth, and so on. Other central concepts connected to objectivity are neutrality and impartiality. However, “objectivity” is, undoubtedly, the term that is most often mentioned when the ethics of journalism is discussed, acting as a kind of umbrella term for several related journalistic ideals. It can even encompass the other concept that is relevant for this study, that of factuality. These two intertwined concepts are extremely complex; paradoxically, it is easier to show evidence of the lack of objectivity or factuality than of their existence.
I argue that when journalists conform to the deep-rooted conventions of ‘objective’ news reporting, facts may be blurred, and the language becomes vague and ambiguous. As global distributors of news, AP and Reuters have had an influential role in creating and reinforcing conventions of (at least English-language) news writing. These conventions can be seen to work at various levels of news reporting: the ideological (e.g., defining what is regarded as newsworthy, or who is responsible), structural (e.g., the well-known ‘inverted pyramid’ model), and stylistic (e.g., presupposing that in hard news reports, the journalist’s ‘voice’ should be backgrounded). On the basis of my case studies, I have found four central conventions to be worthy of closer examination: the conventional structure of news reports, the importance of newsworthiness, the tactics of impersonalisation which tends to blur news actors’ responsibility, and the routines of presenting emotions. My linguistic analyses draw mainly on M.A.K. Halliday’s Systemic Functional Grammar, on notions of transitivity, ergativity, nominalisation and grammatical metaphor. The Appraisal framework, too, has provided useful tools for my analyses.
The thesis includes six case studies dealing with the following topics: metaphors in political reporting, terrorism discourse, terrorism fears, emotions more generally, unnamed sources as rhetorical constructs, and responsibility in the convention of attribution.



Alkuperäiskielienglanti
JulkaisupaikkaJyväskylä
Kustantaja
Painoksen ISBN978-952-10-6775-4
TilaJulkaistu - helmikuuta 2011
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Tohtorinväitöskirja (artikkeli)

Lisätietoja

Maija Stenvall/Varieng

Lisätietoja väitöskirjasta

Dissertation on 25.02.2011, Opponent prof. Paul Chilton, University of Lancaster

Tieteenalat

  • 612 Kielitieteet, kirjallisuus

Siteeraa tätä