Lz411 2013 news discourse


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Lecture slides on newspaper meanings and news discourse

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  • Is there any evidence that what is depicted on the front page is not newsworthy in itsefl but is ‘the end product’?
  • A much cited model of media communication , i.e. of mass communication, hence the terms such as ‘circulation’.Draw on board , sender receiver model. This assumes that what is sent is received as if the medium is a tunnel down which the message slides simply to be picked up by the receiver.Each part of the model is described as a moment. So for example production is the ‘moment of encoding’. Hall says these various aspects are linked but separate moments in the circuit of communication.Hall’s model here is different. Hall uses the terms encoding and decoding very deliberately. Production encodes some aspect of the world into a discursive form – this could be words, still images, moving images, sign language, etc. So with our polar bear example, nature in its raw state has been ‘encoded’ turned into a discursive form consisting of moving images, a voice over, a soundtrack and an audio track. These discursive forms circulate in society. They are available as films in cinemas, television, DVDs, newspapers, magazines, twitter feeds, etc. Through distribution they find their way to audiences. What happens at the moment of consumption? What do we mean by consumption? Which describes the process more accurately? Making meaning from a text? Getting meaning from a text? i.e. where is the meaning? In the text, or the reader or both?From http://users.aber.ac.uk/dgc/Documents/S4B/sem08c.html - “Corner adds that the moment of encoding and that of decoding 'are socially contingent practices which may be in a greater or lesser degree of alignment in relation to each other but which are certainly not to be thought of... as 'sending' and 'receiving' linked by the conveyance of a 'message' which is the exclusive vehicle of meaning' (Corner 1983, pp. 267-8).Also from http://users.aber.ac.uk/dgc/Documents/S4B/sem08c.html - In the context of semiotics, 'decoding' involves not simply basic recognition and comprehension of what a text 'says' but also the interpretation and evaluation of its meaning with reference to relevant codes.Audiences deocde these circulating messages. The key word is decode or interpret. Through meaning interpretations that also circulate in a society. Texts cannot exist independently of cultural meanings. Otherwise their could be no interpretation.. “No meaning … no consumption” (hall 1994, p.201)What does reproduction here mean? Meanings entering social practices in the distribution/consumption moments are then available as social practices for producers. Don’t think of this as happening overnight. We are not talking about little groups of producers and receivers in separate places. We need to think of society as one production and reception context where producers take from and add to existing cultural meanings in processes of production.
  • In this session we are going to look at the first half of this model, going from the discursive practices of journalism (i.e the encoding of reality into news discourse) and then consider what we mean by ‘meaningful discourse’ in the circulation part.Next week we are going to consider what we mean by ‘decoding’ using the examples of TV news.
  • But what do we actually mean by encoding? Writing news stories (at least of the type we will be looking at in this session, is an industrialised process. Whilst there are genre of content that appear in newspapers that are much more personalised individualised (note the rise of the individual journalist’s blog) we are considering news stories which are covering ‘events in the world’See fowler pp21-22 and richardson page 75 onwards Richardson says discursive practices mean “how authors of texts draw on already existing discourses and genres to create a text and how receivers of texts also apply available discourses and genres in the consumption and interpretation of the texts’ (p.75)Selection in terms of news values see fowler
  • See page 12-17 Fowler from Originally from : Galtung, J. & Ruge, M. Holmboe (1965) The Structure of Foreign News. The Presentation of the Congo, Cuba and Cyprus Crises in Four Norwegian Newspapers, Journal of Peace Research, vol. 2, pp. 64-91To get students to think about the extent to which all of these categories are culturally constructed (not just the final four)1) Frequency – How long does an event take to occur? Lengthy or awkward time scales which do not fit in with the frequency of news production may not qualify.  2) Amplitude – Size matters. The bigger an event the more dramatic it is. A car crash with ten dying is more newsworthy (if all else is equal) than one person dying. 3) Unambiguity – A clear cut news story is more likely to be reported than an ambiguous one.  4) Meaningfulness– In terms of cultural proximity and relevance. The first means events from countries culturally proximate are more likely to be reported. Relevance means if the event wherever it is has some relevance to what’s happens in the UK. That which is familiar, close to home is viewed of higher news value than the unfamiliar. 5) Predictability – an event which fits in with expectations is more likely to be covered.  6) Surprise – the opposite of predictability, a surprising event is likely to be covered because of its interest value. 7) Correspondence/continuity – the linking of stories together 8) Composition – This is the value of choosing a news item because it balances others in the bulletin.  9) Elite nations – News items involving elite nations (super powers/’major players’) have higher value because they are more ‘important’ than other nations.  10) Elite people - News items involving elite figures have higher value because they are well known and easily referenced.  11) Personification - If an event can be personified through those involved or through association it has higher news value. 12) Negativity – Bad news is good news (at least for news producers).
  • Lz411 2013 news discourse

    1. 1. LZ411 – Critical Media theory News discourse and newspaper meanings Aims today … •To introduce Stuart Hall’s ‘encoding and decoding’ model for media communication •To look at the specifics of news(paper) discourse in terms of encoding and decoding
    2. 2. Today‟s view on news What we call ‘news’ is actually conventionalised social constructions of events happening in the world. "The Media do not simply and transparently report events which are 'naturally' newsworthy in themselves. 'News' is the end-product of a complex process which begins with a systematic sorting and selecting of events and topics acccording to a socially constructed set of categories" (Hall et al. 1978:53 ) “Many critical researchers argue that news accounts encourage us to accept as natural, obvious or commonsensical certain preferred ways of classifying reality, and that these classifications have far-reaching implications for the cultural reproduction of power relations across society” (Allan 1999:87)
    3. 3. The discursive practices of print journalism • What are the ways that meanings are structured in the circuit of communication? circulation Productio n of news texts Consumptio n of news texts reproduction Stuart Hall Cultural Theorist Encoding-Decoding model
    4. 4. The circuit of news communication Circulation Raw material - the natural world (un-organised, nondiscursive event) The newspaper story as ‘meaningful discourse’ Knowledge of the way news works Knowledge of the newspaper Production Consumption Cultural ‘decoding’ Cultural ‘encoding’ Production knowledge Social knowledge „maps of meaning‟ in the production context Reproduction Cultural meanings Social knowledge „maps of meaning‟ in the „reception context‟
    5. 5. „Encoding‟ What are the material and discursive practices of news production? 1. Selection criteria which can distinguish between „an event‟ and „news‟. 2. The material practices underpinning such selection (costs, bureaucratic organisation, political commitments, access and sources etc.) 3. Construction of the texts: language use, „voice‟, form, layout, understanding of 5
    6. 6. News values (Galtung &Ruge 1965) 1) Frequency 2) Amplitude 3) Unambiguity 4) Meaningfulness 5) Predictability 6) Surprise 6 7) Correspondence 8) Composition 9) Elite nations 10) Elite people 11) Personification 12) Negativity
    7. 7. Examples to consider • Front pages of Guardian, The Daily Mirror, The Sun and The Daily Telegraph from today 7
    8. 8. Lecture summary Hall et al.‟s (1978) model of encoding and decoding as a semiotic analysis of news language. News as a social process consisting of: 1) Selection 2) Access and Sources and 3) Text construction. Ideological impact of such processes – news as representation of ‘a social consensus view’ of the world. Whose consensus?!
    9. 9. Seminars: Analysis tasks (Note: the readings are different from the reader! 1) Analysing discourse features (the public idiom) of newspapers from Fowler (1991) 2) Analysing the narrative structure of „hard‟ news stories. from Allan (2004) Overall aim: to show how what we call ‘news’ is actually conventionalised social constructions of events happening in the world. 9