Posted by: u4499075 | October 12, 2009

Power, language, media

In chapter 10 of the textbook, which discusses language and power, Fairclough argues that there is evidence of power over readers when newspaper reports constrain the content and favour certain interpretations and wordings of events above others (Mesthrie et al. 2009:319). I found two articles on Sunday 11 October, that when compared you can see two different interpretations of the same story, in two different media outlets: ABC and BBC. The articles are titled ‘Militants dead, arrested as army HQ siege ends’ and ‘Pakistan army raid frees hostages’, respectively. In the first article it seems that they focus on the ‘militants’, with a negative implication towards these ‘militants’, but a positive implication towards the action committed against them. Readers are drawn into this point of view from the title alone. In the second article there is a different focus, the ‘Pakistan army’ and their bravery, maybe, in freeing the ‘hostages’. In each case through the use of language each writer is trying to persuade their audience of a particular point of view. Perhaps to the untrained eye if a reader were to look at either article individually then it would seem that the story is being presented unbiasedly. However, John Downing (in Mesthrie et al. 2009:319) might argue that the writer is trying to shape its audience’s feelings, and thereby holding the power.

So, is language use in the media, particularly in newspaper reports always biased? And if it is, are readers aware of this bias? Are they easily overpowered or persuaded? Does this power stop at the report itself, or does it delve further into the biases of those responsible for the papers (for example the owners, not just the writers)? Is the power over the way we ‘should’ view society hidden behind linguistic tactics or manipulative language?

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  1. Yes, I believe that newspaper reports are always biased. I agree that journalists have power in language, at least they can choose to report what they think are important to socioety and they can use language to shape the event in differnt point of view and shape its audience’s feeling.

  2. I definitely agree that media has power over the readers in regards to convincing and persuading their readers’ view of the world. However, I don’t think the media will always show bias, rather they show the way in which they view the world and the angle they approach the story. Some may view each story based on their background (such as education). That is to say of two different people who purportedly believe in righteousness and justice may come to two (slightly) different conclusions, one may believe the militant’s action is bad, and one may believe that it was good that the Pakistani army freed the hostages.

    In regard to the media and power, I think we clearly notice this from politics: certain TV channels are used as tools for political parties to communicate to their own people. They use their TV channel as a medium to transmit news and propose new policies and agendas, at the same time countering that of the opposition. Even if the leader is expelled from the country, the media can be used for communicate with his/her supporters.

    • That’s a brilliant answer to an insetetring question

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