Managing rhetoric in 'smart' journalism: Generic and semantic contours

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    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Systemic functional linguistics (SFL) views genre as being culturally motivated and, therefore, properly theorized at the extralinguistic level of context (Halliday and Hasan 1985; Martin 1992, 1997). Language itself is viewed as consisting of 'content' levels of semantics and lexicogrammar that are realized through phonology, graphology, and gestures (Butt et al. 2000: 7). This paper is concerned with linguistic structure in media discourse and argues that a generic structure of newsmagazine reporting can be usefully complemented through penetrating semantics for a corresponding semantic structure. Eighteen texts of approximately 1000 words each, drawn from The Economist magazine's reporting on Cambodia in the 1990s, are analyzed. The generic structure potential (GSP) statement (Halliday and Hasan 1985) is formulated for these texts. Though valuable as a structural blueprint, the GSP does not go far in terms of explaining how the syntagmatic flow of these texts relates to rhetorical structure. However, by turning to a different analytical tool, semantic move networks (Butt 2000), we are able to expose the rough shape of the texts' semantic contour. We see that this contour, instantiated in The Economist's texts, is suggestive of a kind of semantic signature of 'smart' journalism.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)351-381
    Number of pages31
    JournalText and Talk
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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