Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Crafty Magician or Bad Accountant? Identity and Ideology in British Newspaper Discourse

Dean Hardman offers an outline of his paper for the conference on Language in the (New) Media: Technologies and Ideologies that is about to take place at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Newspaper editorials perform a special role within the pages of the press, as they, unlike other news texts, are openly persuasive and there is usually less emphasis on objectivity (Lee and Lin, 2006). They represent the participation of the newspaper in public debate (Le, 2003) and are sites where ideological stances can often be found (Hackett and Zhao, 1994). This paper examines a selection of British newspaper editorials that focus upon British politicians and British party politics, in order to examine the relationship between the newspaper, its readers (idealised or otherwise) and the political parties and politicians represented.

The paper forms part of a wider study into how the ways in which newspapers construct identities for individual politicians can reflect political ideology, and utilises an analytical method which combines the approaches of critical discourse analysis with the concepts of performed identities and communities of practice. The study highlights how, by constructing identities for politicians, newspapers reveal their own political identities that are closely aligned to political parties, while simultaneously encouraging readers to conceptualise events in such a way that serves the ideology in question.

In this paper, editorials about financial policy from four British newspapers (The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror) are examined in detail. The paper highlights both the ways in which newspapers construct identities for politicians, alongside the effects of doing so - how this serves to construct identities for the newspapers themselves and orients readers towards sharing a particular point of view.

The paper will identify the role of metaphors, modality and other linguistic markers of stance in identity construction, and will compare and contrast the ways in which broadsheets and tabloids and the left and right-wing press orientate towards politicians and encode political ideologies.

(Photo credit: floongle. Permissions.)

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