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Session 5. Evaluation and reporting : attribution. revision. What is described as ‘the voice of the newspaper’? What characteristics does it have?. Commenting. In the editorial, who is evaluated favourably? (give e.g.s of vocabulary used) unfavourably? (give e.g.s of vocabulary used)

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session 5

Session 5

Evaluation and reporting:


  • What is described as ‘the voice of the newspaper’? What characteristics does it have?
  • In the editorial, who is evaluated
    • favourably? (give e.g.s of vocabulary used)
    • unfavourably? (give e.g.s of vocabulary used)
  • Underline example(s) of:
    • modality
    • a rhetorical question
    • first person plural pronouns – who do they refer to?
    • a metaphor
A brave widow and our broken society

19th January 2008

Brave: Devastated widow Helen Newlove spoke wise words about today's society

Anyone who wants to know how to tackle the tide ofdrunken, mindlesslawbreaking that threatens to engulf our communities, should read the wise words of Garry Newlove's widow, Helen.

Despite still raw grief for the loss of her husband and the father of her three daughters, Mrs Newlove set out a clear template for dealing with Britain's social breakdown in her impact statement to the court that this week found three youths guilty of kicking her husband to death.

The first culprit was the legal system. The ringleader of the gang had been released on bail hours before the attack.

Mrs Newlove believes that we have a "justice system that does not do enough to protect decenthard working people".


Yesterday, in a separate case, a judge agreed that our obsessionwith rights was leaving society "bedevilled by feral youth".

  • Then, Mrs Newlove criticised the police. The gang that killed her husband had, along with others, she said, been terrorising the neighbourhood for weeks.
  • Local police had done nothing to stop them. What kind of policing is it that allows criminal gangs to make people prisoners in their own homes?
  • But Mrs Newlove did not limit her criticism to the authorities. Parentsmust "take responsibility for their children".
  • It's up toparents to teach their children respect for authority and for other people. It's up toparents to set an example about drinking. It's up toparents to ensure that truanting children get the education that will put them on the path to a better life.
  • Mrs Newlove and her daughters have suffered a terrible loss, but if we act on what she has learnt, we'll be taking the first steps to making our streets as safe as they ought to be.
evaluative texts
  • Often the way aneventissummarised can involve anevaluation
  • In the lexis
  • In the grammar
  • Evennewspaperheadlines can containevaluations
functions of the headline
Functions of the headline
  • Attract the reader’s attention to the story (or paper, if on the front page)
  • Tell the reader what the story is about
    • summarising the content of the story
    • indicating the evaluation of the story
    • indicating the register or tone of the story
    • indicating the focus of the story
headline language evaluation and graduation
Headline language: evaluation and graduation
  • An emphatic triumph (Sun)
  • A shattering blow (Mirror)
the same event evaluations
The sameevent? Evaluations?
  • Goldman Sachs 'ismorallybankrupt'
  • Goldman executive quits over 'toxic' greed
  • A knee in the nuts that means serious trouble for Goldman Sachs
  • A PR disaster for Goldman Sachs
  • Smith lifts lid on nasty culture
daily mail headline
Daily mail headline
  • 'How we ripped out the eyeballs of our "muppet" clients': Goldman Sachs exec exposes bank's 'toxic' greed in scathing public resignation letter
where the news came from
Where the news camefrom
  • The eventwas the publicationof a performative document – a letterofresignation -
  • Journalists love performative documentsbecausethey are the hardestfactsthey can gettheirhands on
  • (Fishman: 1980:99)
the construction of news
The construction of news

[t]he reporter does not go out gathering news, picking up stories as if they were fallen apples, he creates news stories by selecting fragments of information from the mass of raw data he receives and organizing them in journalistic form.

(Chibnall 1982: 76)


‘Journalists love the performativesofpoliticswheresomethinghappensthroughsomeonesayingit. The fusionof word and actisidealfor news reporting. No otherfactshavetobeverified. The onlyfactisthatsomebodysaidsomething’

  • Bell 1991:207
reporting choices
  • Different newspapers and news broadcasts report differently, both in content and presentation
  • They express affiliations and disaffections in the way they represent or mediate by means of transformation or differential treatment in presentation
  • This is part of the social construction of news but before transformation and treatment there is the question of selection: the decision that something is worth including, is relevant
where news comes from
Where news comes from
  • Press release material is being used more often as a basis for articles,
  • and phrases are frequently taken verbatim by the journalists from a limited number of press releases
  • 60 percent of press articles come wholly or mainly from ‘pre-packaged’ sources
pr sources
PR sources
  • The findings suggest that public relations often does much more than merely set the agenda: it was found that 19 percent of newspaper stories were verifiably derived mainly or wholly from public relations material, while fewer than half the stories appeared to be entirely independent of
  • traceable PR
once a topic is selected then the next thing
Once a topic is selected then the next thing…..
  • Is who gets to speak:
  • news has to be gathered so there are a number of sources, events and institutions which are frequently used as sources sometimes called ‘accessed voices’
  • Sources monitored routinely: such as parliament, councils, police, emergency services, courts, diary events, royalty, airports, other news media
accessed voices 2
Accessed voices 2
  • organizations issuing statements and holding press conferences (government departments, local authority departments, public services, companies, trade unions, non-commercial organizations, political parties, armed forces)
accessed voices 3
Accessed voices 3
  • Individuals making statements, seeking publicity
  • (prominent people, members of the public)
  • The interesting thing is how they are introduced and how their words are used
inclusion means evaluating relevance
Inclusion means evaluating relevance
  • When a writer/speaker chooses to quote or reference the words or thoughts of another.
  • By referencing the words of another, the writer, at the very least, indicates that these words are in some way relevant to his/her current communicative purposes.
  • Thus the most basic intertextual evaluation is one of implied `relevance'.
reflexive language
Reflexive language
  • You use language to talk about events and objects in the world around you.
  • Some of the events that you talk about are language events – what other people say or have said, what you yourself think or have thought and so on. You can also treat these events as things – you listen to a speech or make a suggestion.
  • Any language has particular ways of talking about events and things which happen to consist of language.
3 basic ways
3 basic ways
  • To repeat the bit of language more or less as it originally occurred (Direct speech)
  • To repeat in your own words (Reported or indirect speech)
  • To report the occurrence of a bit of language without actually saying what was said or written (Language reports)
  • Once an attributed proposition has been included (and hence evaluated as `relevant') it can then be further evaluated as `endorsed' or `disendorsed'.
  • The endorsed utterance is one which the writer either directly or indirectly indicates support for, or agreement with.
  • The endorsed utterance is represented as true or reliable or convincing.
extra vocalisation using others words
extra-vocalisation – using others’ words
  • There are a number of factors including the degree of authority which is indicated of the source and the degree to which the writer/speaker endorses (or dis-endorses) the attributed material.
  • As X, perhaps the world's leading authority on Y, has demonstrated, ... (high authority / authorially endorsed, the writer indicates they share responsibility with the source for the proposition/proposal)
  • X says that... (neutral with respect to endorsement)
  • Some Xs have claimed that...(dis-endorsed, author disavows responsibility for the proposition/proposal)
argumentative force
  • In endorsed formulations (for example, `As X has so compellingly demonstrated)
  • the writer not only indicates their personal investment in the current argument, but adds to the argumentative force by representing the current view as one which is not theirs alone but one which is shared with, for example, the wider community or with relevant experts.
the government has finally conceded that they made a mistake
The Government has finally conceded that they made a mistake.
  • Here the term "concede" carries a number of connotations. Firstly, of course, it indicates that the Government only reluctantly came to offer up the proposition that "we made a mistake". "Concede" like "admit" implies that the attributed source has only now been compelled, somehow, to reveal the truth.
  • And, secondly, of course, there is the implication that what is "conceded" is "the truth of the matter" - that is to say, the proposition framed in this way is represented as true. The positive endorsement is not of the quoted source, but of their proposition or proposal.
ways of distancing
Ways of distancing
  • One quite common and interesting mechanism for more indirectly indicating dis-endorsement is to characterise the utterance as unexpected or surprising.
  • Disendorsement can, however, go beyond such `distancing' to the point of absolute rejection or denial of the attributed proposition.
  • Even if writers/speakers choose to include what other people say they can also distance themselves from the utterance, indicating that they take no responsibility for its reliability.
  • This is commonly done by the use of a quoting verb such as `to claim' and `allege', nouns such as ‘rumour’, adverbs such as ‘reportedly’.
signalled choices
  • The speechcriticisedthosewhofalselyclaimthat Bush is just a Texas catle-rancherDisendorsement
  • The Archbishoprightlydescribes the killingasevil.Endorsement
  • The report demonstratesclearly…Endorsement
  • Who is presented as taking responsibility for the utterance under consideration:
  • sole responsibility (all unattributed material)
  • no responsibility (as with dis-endorsed, attributed material)
  • shared responsibility (with endorsed attributed material)
talking about reporting
Talking about reporting
  • Speaker/writer: the person who said or wrote what is being reported
  • Hearer/reader: the person to whom the speaker /writer was talking or writing
  • Reporter: the person who gives the report of the language event
  • Language event: the original act of speaking or writing by the speaker or writer
  • Report: the whole account of the language event(which may or may not include identification of the speaker/writer and may include a direct quotation or some indirect speech or both, or neither
  • Message: the part of the report which represents what was said or written in the language event
  • Reporting signal: the part of the report which tells you that this is a report, for example, a reporting verb such as ‘say’. In some cases punctuation marks such as inverted commas may act as reporting signals.
  • Look at the text Goldman an ethical history and identify and comment on the above elements
textual integration
textual integration
  • Insertion = a clear separation between the words of the source and those of the source (quotation marks) or whether the distinction has been blurred; the actual words of the other speaker
  • assimilation = reformulation and paraphrasing
direct and indirect quotation
Direct and indirect quotation
  • whether the writer purports to offer the reader the actual words of the attributed source or whether these have been reworked in some way, often with the result that the wording is more like that of the current text than that of the original speaker/writer.
  • At its most simple, this distinction separates direct quotation (where the attributed material is clearly separated from the rest of the text)
  • and indirect quotation (where the words of the attributed are not so clearly demarcated and where there may be considerable paraphrasing.)
indirect quotation
Indirect quotation
  • the distance between the external and the authorial voice is reduced.
  • There is some degree of assimilation by the text of the attributed meanings.
  • Such assimilation may be increased through the use of the various grammatical structures of attribution. (reporting verbs)
attribution and text types
Attribution and text types
  • There are marked differences between text types e.g. fiction vs. news reporting
  • ambiguous attribution and blurred distinctions can be used for a series of rhetorical purposes
  • academic writing involves a series of ‘rules’ about attribution (the plagiarism issue)
  • the media also have a set of editorial rules regarding the accuracy of reporting
  • in literary studies the distinction between indirect and free indirect speech has undergone a vast amount of research
speech events can be reported in a variety of ways
Speechevents can bereported in a varietyofways
  • Distance or disendorsement, stance signals, signalsofinteractionalresistance, timeframes, and values can allbealteredtofit a particularpolitical or journalisticpurpose. Questions can frame utterances in a particular way responses can becraftedtorespond or evade
events and the reporting of events are not the same thing
Events and the reportingofevents are not the samething.
  • Youshouldbeabletouseyourcriticalskills, analyticalabilities and appropriate metalanguagetocomment on choicesmade in the reportingofspeechevents and performative documents