Books: Language and news/media

News media receive a good deal of attention from linguistically-sensitive discourse analysts (scroll down for some recent books). Two new reviews of books in this field are available on linguistlist.

1. Martin Conboy (2007) The Language of the News. Routledge.

Conboy situates his book within Critical Linguistics, i.e., the paradigm (as outlined in Chapter 1), which describes news as a socially-situated linguistic activity. Newspapers are considered in this book to both inform broader linguistic trends and be influenced by these trends. The book touches on issues of news language features, the economic imperative driving news media, objectivity, the development of ‘news communities’, argumentation, rhetoric, social semiotics, ideology, gender, narrative, the nation, exclusion and political correctness. The reviewer, Mekki Elbadri, evaluates the book thus:

Evaluation: This book is an important addition to research in the area of critical linguistic analysis of media discourse in general, and news language in particular. It supplements works such as Bell (1991), Fowler (1991) and van Dijk (1988a, 1988b) by providing new insights and considering more recent literature. The book’s methodological orientation places it clearly in the framework of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) (see, for instance, Wodak 1989, Wodak and Meyer 2001, Fairclough 1995). However the author avoids using the term CDA and opts for the older, and less commonly used, term ‘Critical Linguistics’, as used by Fowler (1991). The author doesn’t specify the audience addressed by his book; nevertheless, the book’s treatment of terminology and theories indicates that it targets beginners, undergraduate students and a generally non-specialized public. Mainly it speaks to those who the author calls ‘critical readers’. The book contains some short analysis activities, although some of them are rather simplistic. Furthermore, the author avoids entering into detailed theoretical discussions and focuses instead on providing extensive practical examples. For instance the word ‘discourse’ is only defined in Chapter 5, page 117. In spite of the book’s title, ‘Language of the News’, it presents mainly the language of British newspapers, with hardly any place for other international news media, other languages, or even media other than newspapers. The British focus makes some of the examples, puns and contextual information incomprehensible for readers who are not well acquainted with British English and British politics. [… The] book constitutes an important resource for learners and teachers of linguistics, discourse analysis and media studies.

2. Sally Johnson & Astrid Ensslin (Eds.) (2007) Language in the Media: Representations, Identities, Ideologies. Continuum.

This collection of chapters on language and the media. The reviewer, Francisco Yus, begins his review by voicing surprise at the very specific focus on the collection, which focus on particular language-related topics within media discourse, not on more general issues concerning the language of media. It deals primarily with media practices/texts which explicitly deal with language. Appraoches include conversational/text analysis, critical and multimodal discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, pragmatics, stylistics, speech act theory, historiography and ethnography. In his evaluation, he reflects on his own change of heart after reading the book:

The book ”Language in the Media” explores language in different media but, unlike my initial impression, it exhibits several underlying linking qualities that give the book a desirable level of coherence, which is also enhanced formally by the fact that there is only one bibliographical section at the end of the book. The book is not the typical book on language and the media, since it focuses on very specific and ideology-connoted aspects of the relationship of language and media, but at the same time it will no doubt draw the attention of readers from a wide range of research perspectives, including pragmatics, (critical) discourse analysis, ethnological approaches, etc. As such, the book is invaluable and no doubt offers interesting insights in a field on which so much has been published already.

A random selection of recent books in this field:

And the classics of linguistically-sensitive critical news/media discourse analysis:

(…apologies for the amazon links… still looking for an alternative comprehensive online bookstore… check betterworldbooks first if you buy second hand…)


One Comment to “Books: Language and news/media”

  1. Nice post. IMHO, there are two books missing from your classics list:

    The Language of News Media by Allan Bell
    Anthropology & Mass Communication by Mark Peterson :-)

    And here’s one I’ve just come across:

    Positioning in Media dialogue by Elda Weizman

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