Conciseness, an outsider’s perspective and a smooth intonation contour: A comparison of appositions in press releases and news stories based upon them

Frank Jansen


It is the desk editor’s task to revise the press releases presented to the newspaper in order to get news stories that are fit to print. What does that mean: Revise? This question is answered by a corpus study of appositions in press releases and the news stories that are based on them. The analysis is carried out in two directions. In the ‘forward’ analysis, the question is how appositions in source texts are dealt with by desk editors. In the ‘backward’ analysis, the origins are traced in the news stories. It is shown that appositions are revised quite often. From the revision data we may infer a number of motives for editorial interventions. Newspaper editors are more inclined than writers of press releases to favor concise sentences with a smooth, uninterrupted intonation contour and with a neutral outsider’s perspective.

Quick links
A browser-friendly version of this article is not yet available. View PDF
Bell, A
(1984) Good copy – bad news: The syntax and semantics of news editing. In P. Trudgill (ed.), Applied Sociolinguistics. London: Academic Press, pp. 73-116.Google Scholar
(1991) The language of the news media. Oxford/Cambridge MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Halliday, M.A.K
(2004) An introduction to functional grammar. Third edition revised by C.M.I.M. Matthiessen. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
Jacobs, G
(1999)a Preformulating the news: An analysis of the metapragmatics of press releasesAmsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
(1999)b Self reference in press releases. Journal of Pragmatics 31: 219-242. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Jansen, F., and L. Lentz
(2002) The position of adjunctive passive participle constructions. In S. BaauwM. Huiskes & M. Schoorlemmer (eds.), Yearbook UIL-Ots 2002. Utrecht: Utrecht Institute of linguistics, pp. 93-103.Google Scholar
Keizer, E
(2005) The discourse function of close appositions. Neophilologus 89: 447-467. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Lam, M. van ‘t
(1996) Van Persbericht tot nieuwsbericht: Een transformatieproces. Master Thesis Communication Studies Utrecht University.Google Scholar
Löbel, E
(1993) Zur distribution und Abgrenzung von enger Apposition und Attribut. In: M. Vuillaume, J-Fr. Marillier & I. Behr (eds.), Studien zur Syntax und Semantik der Nominalgruppe. Tübingen: Narr, pp. 145-166.Google Scholar
Mann, W.C., C. Matthiessen, & S.A. Thompson
(1992) Rhetorical structure theory and text analysis. In W.C. Mann & S.A. Thompson (eds.), Discourse description: Diverse linguistic analyses of a fund raising letter. Amsterdam: Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 39-78. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
McCawley, J.D
(1995) An overview of “appositive” constructions in English. In M. Przerdziecki & L. Whaley (eds.), Proceedings of the twelfth Eastern states conference on linguistics. Ithaca: Cornell University, pp. 195-211.Google Scholar
Meyer, C.F
(1987) Appositions in English. Journal of English Linguistics 20: 101-121. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(1989) Restrictive apposition: An indeterminate category. English Studies 70: 147-166. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Pander Maat, H
this volume) Editing and genre conflict: How newspaper journalists clarify and neutralize press release copy.
Plas, J. van der
(1988) De revisie van kopij van correspondenten bij de streekredactie van het Leidsch Dagblad. Master Thesis Communication studies, Leiden University.Google Scholar
Quirk, R., S. Greenbaum, G. Leech, & J. Svartvik
(1993) A grammar of contemporary English. London: Longman.Google Scholar
Sleurs, K., and G. Jacobs
(2005) Beyond preformulation: An ethnographic perspective on press releases.Journal of Pragmatics 37: 1251-1273. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Van Hout, T., and G. Jacobs
this volume) News production theory and practice: Fieldwork notes on power, interaction and agency.