The pragma-ideological implications of using reported speech: The case of reporting on the Al-Aqsa intifada

Nawaf Obiedat


From a systemic linguistics perspective, this paper investigates, via a corpus discourse analysis of news stories, the news reporters’ purposes and intentions of using direct and/or indirect quotations (henceforth DQs & IQs) in news reporting. By randomly selecting and analysing a number of news stories taken from two leading American and two leading British newspapers, reporting the same two incidents of killing resulting from the al-Aqsa Intifada, this study reveals the following: 1. DQs are used to add some flavour, vividness and a sense of immediacy and authority to the news story that can be manipulated in such a way as to achieve a variety of certain socio-political ends, e.g. to make a mere viewpoint seem authoritative rather than personal (in our case the newsmaker’s). 2. DQs function as a distancing and a disowning device, i.e. absolving the journalist/the news reporter from endorsement of what the source, i.e. the newsmaker, has said. 3. DQs are also used to show that what is reported is an unconvertible fact, despite the fact that a news reporter may take sides by selecting quotations, and may thus exhibit a biased and prejudiced position. As for the use of IQs, this study also reveals the following: 1. They show the subjective perspective of the news reporter, since he/she merely paraphrases and gives a summary of the content of what has been recorded, written or uttered by the newsmaker.<<<2. They indicate the political bias and prejudice of the news reporter. 3. They sometimes present an ambiguous account of what has been recorded, written or uttered by the newsmaker, since the news reporter only presents an interpretation, as in the cases of free direct & indirect quotations (henceforth FDQs & FIQs). However, IQs, and to a lesser extent DQs, can also serve the news reporter, by means of manipulating the pragma-linguistic functions of the reporting/projecting verbs, in assessing and evaluating both the socio-political stance and status of the newsmaker, in addition to exposing the political bias of the news reporter him-/herself.

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