Media Discourse on Bill C-30


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An analysis of the media discourse surrounding Bill C-30 as covered by CBC's The National.

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Media Discourse on Bill C-30

  1. 1. An analysis of media discoursesemployed in CBCs coverage of Bill C-30 Presented by Jonathan Giles and Sorina Dragusanu on 13 March 2012
  2. 2. Introduction-This presentation will explore the linguistic features that are salient in the introduction of Bill-C30 to the public by CBC-By studying these features, we will have a better understanding of the ways in which news broadcasters draw upon certain linguistic resources in order to inform the public- Showing how these linguistic resources are employed will allow us to further reflect on some of the differences and similarities between face-to-face conversation and media discourse
  3. 3. What is Bill C-30? Bill C-30 is a piece of legislation that was tabled in the House of Commons on February 14th 2012, which was designed to enable police to collect information from Internet Service Providers and cellphone companies without a warrant CBCs The National covered this story on February 13th, 14th, and 19th. The bill was eventually sent to a committee for review after a substantial public reaction
  4. 4. Situating our analysis of The National Dyadic speaker-hearer models are not suitable frameworks for describing diverse instances of talk Goffmans Participation Framework (1981) allows for a diversity of hearers roles which could accomodate those watching or listening to a newscast The specific configuration of speaker-hearer is determined by the institution shaping the speech event
  5. 5. The National as an institutional genre of media discourseGenre, therefore, for the purposes of investigating media discourse, requires a flexible definition that will accommodate both the orthodoxy of a stable structure and the instantaneous and spontaneous activity of those who participate within it. (OKeefe 2005:23)
  6. 6. Structure of The National1) Participant structure Newscast: introduces stories (narratives) that the public are interested in knowing (which is why they are tuning in, presumably) Reporter: Corroborates the story with experience Hearer: (anywhere from 800 000 to 2 million on CBC) – the person for whom the information is gathered, as well as whose opinion is shaped based on the information they are given
  7. 7. The news clips The news clips and transcripts can be made available to interested parties Please leave a comment
  8. 8. Contexutalization and Reported Speech Recontextualization of Question Time QT is a genre; QT is institutionalized  prefabricated, televised, and adversarial in nature (Fenton-Smith) Recontextualization process  Rephrase the question  Describe the thoughts/actions of the politician  Use following context to create a dialogue between parties that separate in space, time or both (Ekström)
  9. 9. ...Contextualization and Reported Speech (contd) ‘-he can either stand with us or with the child pornographers (Towes, Feb. 13,14 & 19)
  10. 10. The employment of narrativesNews reports, or stories, roughly follow the framework of narrative, as it seeks to relate something that happened to the other participants in a conversation.Labovs (2006) framework:AbstractOrientationComplicating actionEvaluationResult
  11. 11. Some considerations about news reports as narrative- Newscasters are relaying things they did not personally experience- This authority is also enhanced by video edits- The abstract and orientation are very close together- Evaluation seems to be tied up into the orientation, as well as the result
  12. 12. The positioning of stances in The Nationals coverage of Bill-C30 Who are positioned as proponents?  The conservative government, the police or Vic Towes Who are positioned as opponents?  Many faces including advocacy groups, privacy specialists and the opposition parties
  13. 13. The positioning of stances in The Nationals coverage of Bill-C30 What about the hearer/audience?  ’we’ and ’us’  ’canadians’, ’the canadian’, and ’citizens’ How are they all positioned in relation to each other?  Bill C-30 as framed by CBCs The National is an intrusive spy mechanism. This indexes our ideological need for a certain degree of privacy and distance from the government and police bodies.
  14. 14. ConclusionDiscourse analysis elucidates the inner workings of something that is usually taken for granted:It shows the specific linguistic strategies that are used by newscasters in their particular genre that piece by piece, word by word, strategy by strategy contribute to the public debate on an issue.Although many of the conversational strategies are the same, the way in which they are used, combined with the status and number of hearers provide the CBC with the ability to shape our understanding of the event
  15. 15. Questions to Consider• Was it manipulation on purpose?• How much can we say about intentionality in this, and how much does it even matter?
  16. 16. Bibliography (edit - + goffman & ctv)Bakhtin, M. M. (1999). The problem of speech genres. In The discourse reader, Jaworski, A., & Coupland, N. eds. New York: Routledge.Briggs, Charels, & Bauman, R. (2009). Genre, Intertextuality and social power. In Linguistic anthropology. Duranti, A. ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.CBC (2012). The National. In CBC Program Guide. Retrieved fromöm, M. (2001). Politicians interviewed on television news. Discourse & Society, 12(5), 563-584. doi:10.1177/0957926501012005001Fenton-Smith, B. (2008). Discourse structure and political performance in adversarial parliamentary questioning. Journal of Language and Politics, 7(1), 97-97. doi:10.1075/jlp.7.1.05smiHolt, E., & Clift, R. (2007). Reporting talk: Reported speech in interaction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Mesley, W. (Host). (2012, February 14). Online surveillance bill. The National. Video retrieved from, M. (2007). The discourse of broadcast news: A linguistic approach. New York: Routledge.OKeeffe, A. (2006). Investigating media discourse. New York: Routledge.Webster, F. (2002). Information management and manipulation: Jürgen Habermas and the concept of the public sphere (Chapter 7). Theories of the information society. New York: Routledge.