Journalism, ideology and linguistics

The paradox of Chomsky's linguistic legacy and his 'propaganda model'

Annabelle Lukin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


A central reason why news discourse is an object of academic research is its potential and actual role in establishing and maintaining ideology. News can do this because it is made of language and other semiotic modalities (Hasan, 1996a). This article considers the media coverage of the 2003 'Coalition' invasion of Iraq, in light of the contradictions between the assumptions about discourse in the 'propaganda model' (Herman and Chomksy, 2002[1988]), and the nature of language in the Chomskyan tradition. The propaganda model is predicated on language being social and semiotic, two aspects of language absent in Chomsky's linguistic theory. Paradoxically, linguistic description in the Chomskyan tradition cannot be recruited to analysing the news discourse identified by Chomsky and Herman, over 20 years ago, as the medium for the establishment and reinforcement of deep and consequential ideologies, which are as powerful today as they have ever been.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-110
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

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