Reporting war: grammar as 'covert operation'

Annabelle Lukin, David Butt, Christian Matthiessen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    While it is often said that ‘truth is the first casualty of war’, this aphorism covers only one feature of how wars are reported, namely, the deliberate use of misinformation by parties to a war. But language is by its nature a highly plastic resource: there is never just one way to report a set of events, even when the ‘facts’ may be uncontested. Drawing on data from newspaper reports and media briefings of the recent war in Iraq, we illustrate some of the basic grammatical systems which underlie the choices a journalist has to make, particularly in reporting ‘high impact’ events of the war. Using a functional approach to grammar – where grammar is seen not as rules but as a theory of reality – we introduce some basic grammatical concepts for understanding the ideological impact of different grammatical choices in construing the events of war.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)58-74
    Number of pages17
    JournalPacific Journalism Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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