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Malaysia Airlines’ flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur on 8th March 2014 at 12:41
a.m. Its landing was expected the same day in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. There were 227 passengers
and 12 crew members on board. The flight had lost contact with Air Traffic Control at 2:40 a.m.
The aircraft was Boeing 777 – 200 which is considered one of the most secure airplanes. The
passengers were citizens from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, France, USA, New
Zealand, Ukraine, Canada, Russia, Italy, India, Netherlands and Austria. The pilot was Captain
Zaharie Ahmad Shah (53) who worked for Malaysia Airlines since 1981 and the first officer was
Fariq Ab. Hamid (27) who has been a crew member since 2007. Any emergency signals or
distress messages were not received from MH370. Malaysian Search and Rescue team was
almost immediately activated to locate the aircraft.
This paper' deals with disappearance of Malaysian airplane during its flight from
Malaysia to China on 8th March 2014. Its main goal is to explore the ways Malaysian, British
and American newspaper presented the unusual event when the airplane disappeared. The focus
will be on the construction of different media images and representation of the main actors
within several media sources. We will get a complete image through specific discursive practice.
The media from three different countries are taken for the analysis so we could get the full
picture of how the event was seen and described at the very beginning. Theo van Leeuwen's
CDA strategies with focus on social actors and Norman Fairclough's approach to discourse
analysis in terms of figurative language use and sentence construction will be the base of this
elaboration. Thanks to them, we will get a wider picture of the media approach.

Corpus description

The corpus of this analysis consists of six articles excluded from different media,
including British BBC and The Independent, American Las Vegas Sun and The New York Times
and Malay The Malay Online and The Star. They are published from on 8th, 9th and 12th March
2014, the day when the airplane disappeared and several days after the disappearance.
BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) – The article was published on 9th March, 24
hours after the plane had disappeared from radar. It provides new information from both scenes,
Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. The BBC’s article aims to inform about new stages in the search.

Moreover. there are individuals who think that such a media coverage for this accident was unnecessary. It contains the basic information about the disappearance and provides several official statements. Eileen Ng and Chris Brummitt published this article on 8 th March 2014 amounting the possibility that the plane might have turned back. It lacks new information. The Malaysian Mail Online. we can expect a more personal attitude since the accident could have a deep influence on the author.The Independent – The second article from British newspaper was written by Simon Calder on12th March 2014. we can expect the objectivity in their reports. In the fifth one. This is one precise and concise article written by unknown journalist. The discourse of such breaking news has been present ever since. The New York Times – In this article written by Thomas Fuller on 9 th March 2014 there is no new information about the case. Some theories and possibilities are introduced and explained 1 . The journalist aims to convey the situation in Malaysia and China morning after the disaster. The Star – On the same day when the plane disappeared. It intends to give the answers to the frequently asked questions. This article includes people’s opinions and images from the two airports. The Malay Online – The newspaper published the article written by Clara Chooi on 9 th march 2014. this article was published. Why Did the Media Devote So Much Attention to the Missing Malaysian Airplane? http://www. It is well known that journalists should be striving to be objective while reporting. Las Vegas Sun – The American newspaper also were trying to explore all the possibilities. Tom.motherjones. Since two of the three sources do not originate from the country where the event happened. Even though there are numerous theories. considering the fact that three months 1 Englehardt. It covers different stages of investigation and brings interviews with more professionals. articles and stories about the accident. the word “mystery” is used to describe the event. so we have articles like Why Did the Media Devote So Much Attention to the Missing Malaysian Airplane?1 Others think that media coverage in such an extent was a good choice because of all people who could help if they hear it and all other people who wanted to know what happened. Nevertheless.

His theories deal with the relationship between power and knowledge. “For critical discourse analysts. It does not just contribute to the shaping and reshaping of social structures. a French postmodernist. London. The rules of it are regulated by what is considered true or false. Page 61. I will put focus on media reports and their discourse analysis in the first two or three days. It is closer to Marxism and less poststructuralist than definition of other authors. Page 109. interpretation of the relationship between the text and interaction and explanation of the relationship between interaction and social context. Michel Foucault. Every of several scholars that had made a great influence on today’s discourse analysis has its own view of discourse and its analysis. philologist and literary critic. Methodology There is no one definition of discourse. This paper will be partly based on his approach to discourse analysis in terms of the figurative use of language and sentence constructions. Language and Power. As social practice. Marianne and Phillips. inclusive and exclusive we etc. 2 .3 The other part of the paper will be based on Theo van Leeuwen’s CDA strategies which put focus on the representation of social actors and his concepts of individualization and 2 Jorgensen. New York.have passed. Norman Fairclough is a critical discourse analyst and a professor of Linguistics at Lancaster University in United Kingdom. active and passive sentences. sayable and unsayable. 3 Fairclough. discourse is a form of social practice which both constitutes the social world and is constituted by other social practices. discourse is in a dialectical relationship with other social dimensions. Discourse Analysis as Theory and Method. Louise. Discourse is only one form of social practice is his definition. philosopher. but also reflects them. There are three stages in his approach: description of the text. defines discourse as a set of statements belonging to the same discursive formation. Longman Inc. 1989. such as wording (rewording and over wording). 2002.”2 Fairclough proposes a number of tools for text analysis. SAGE Publications. social theorist. different figures of speech and lexical relations. Norman.

meronymy and metaphor. anonymous individuals or groups (indetermination). The Representation of Social Actors in Texts and Practices. Routledge. London. metonymy. London. 3 . or between “us” and “them”.assimilation. 1989. “Any aspect of experience can be represented in terms of any number of metaphors. 1996. The analysis aims to show linguistic strategies used in the representation of social actors. Page 119. 1996.8 Article Analysis 4 Fairclough. The Representation os Social Actors in Texts and Practices. nomination and categorization. differentiation is when an individual social actor or group of social actors from a similar actor or a group. Theo. Longman Inc. and their identity is specified (determination). 7 Van Leeuwen. Page 54.7 Identification is defined as a criteria when a social actors are defined in terms of what they are. Routledge. this analysis will pay attention to the construction of sentences in the articles. It includes deixis. Theo. In the following lines definitions about some of the criterion of Van Leeuwen’s theory of social actors will be provided. creates the difference between the “self” and the “other”. London. as with “others”. 8 Van Leeuwen. Theo. implications.”4 Also. Language and Power.5 Nomination and categorization happen when social actors are represented in terms of their unique identity (nomination) or in terms of identities and functions they share with others (categorization). New York. 1996. Routledge. The Representation of Social Actors in Texts and Practices. London. Norman. determination and differentiation and identification. Page 48. Page 52. Routledge. Page 52. not what they do. Individualization and assimilation occur when social actors can be referred to as individuals (individualization) or groups (assimilation).6 Determination and differentiation are used when social actors are represented as unspecified. 1996. The Representation of Social Actors in Texts and Practices. 6 Van Leeuwen. 5 Van Leeuwen. Theo.

(Determination) Activation which occurs when a social actor is activated is present in this particular article too. 4 .” (Assimilation) “At a news briefing in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning. The language used in the article is simple and easy to understand. while the aerial mission resumed on Sunday morning. said Azarhudin Abdul Rahman. the BBC was reporting about missing Malaysian airplane.Analysis 1: BBC From the very beginning. “Asked whether terrorism was suspected as a reason for the plane’s disappearance. the airline urged all Malaysians and people around the world to pray for MH370”. Two thirds were from China.” (Assimilation) The first example could be seen as an example for nomination strategy too.” (Categorization) “The rescue operations continue… and we have to report that we have not been able to locate anything. This article is written as a report 24 hours after the event.” (Nomination) “In a statement. Other Van Leeuwen’s strategies are present in the article. officials said there had been no sign of any wreckage. because of the social actor presented in term of his unique identity. while others were from elsewhere in Asia. Those are: “The passengers were of 14 different nationalities. In its representation of social actors. North America and Europe. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said: “We are looking at all possibilities. but it is too early to make any conclusive remarks. a representative of Malaysia’s civil aviation authority. The reports were detailed and contained then known information.” ” (individualization) “Marine rescue teams worked through the night to search the sea south of Vietnam. The following extracts are the examples of the two strategies. the BBC uses the strategies of individualization and assimilation (Van Leeuwen’s theory mentioned above).

were not actually on the flight. Beijing/China and metonymy: ” Chinese airports have stepped up security in the wake of the incident”9 “Malaysia and Vietnam have both sent planes and naval vessels to look for the missing flight.“The US is sending the USS Pinckney.” (Functionalization) “The relatives and friends waiting to meet passengers from flight MH370 have been taken to the Lido “Malaysian authorities have been extremely careful about what they will reveal. an Arleigh Burke – class guided missile destroyer. functionalization and collectivization are two strategies that can be applied to social actors.” According to Van Leeuwen’s theory. This article has numerous examples of figurative speech.”10 9 http://www. The first one occurs when social actors are referred in terms of what they do while the second one occurs when social actors are referred to as groups.” An example for the opposite of activation – passivation of the social actor (when it is represented as undergoing he activity or as being the recipient) is shown in the following extract: “Singapore is also 5 . There are implications: “It has been reported that two passengers who were listed on the plane's manifest . Meronymy such as Kuala Lumpur/ 10 http://www. a short drive from Beijing Airport’s Terminal Italian and an Austrian .” (Collectivization) The second italicized part of the second sentence is yet another example of passivized social while Vietnam sent aircraft and ships and asked fishermen in the area to report any suspected sign of the missing plane. “It has been reported that two passengers who were listed on the plane's manifest . which could be in the area within 24 Italian and an Austrian .were not actually on the flight.

uk/travel/news-and-advice/malaysia-airlines-flightmh370-qa-what-do-we-know-about-what-happened-9184718. which aims to publish the latest information. All of them (Malaysia. It consists of nine frequently asked questions and concise answers to them. Unlike the previous article from the British media. The journalist succeeds to send the picture of oneness in misfortune through strategies listed above that show numerous people from different nations and cultures acting as one. The questions are pretty much simple and understandable: “What happened to Malaysia Airlines MH370? What could explain the absence of any emergency call? Could a bomb have been smuggled aboard? What other theories have been put forward? Will the flight number MH370 be used again? The collectivized “we” is present from the beginning. collectivization: military and functualization: pilots. Vietnam…) have one goal – to find out the destiny of 239 people and the plane. There are examples of categorization: the passengers and the travelling public. USA. we hope to get some answers.Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 Q&A? What do we know about what happened? 11 When reading it. the author starts with the known facts.The BBC represents social actors of this event as unified in order to help and find the best solution. Simon Calder becomes one of the readers. exclusion of social actors: 11 http://www. so that he could explore additive solutions and opinions in its sequel. By placing himself into the role of a random person interested in the case. the title itself. This article is much shorter than the BBC’s. so there are less strategies of social actors and figurative speech At the very beginning of the article. ground staff. China. Analysis 2: The Independent The very title of the article is attracting the reader’s attention . It makes the article closer to those who are puzzled by the uncommon event but are not the experts to understand what did or did not happen.html 6 . There is no negative representation of others. this one is endeavoring to sum up what we know four days after the airplane went missing.independent.

one sentence may contain two or more examples of different strategies and speech figures.” As we can see in the analysis. The journalist’s task is to inform the readers and try to give the answers to their questions and that is the exact thought Simon Calder is doing with this article. but still with simple terms.000 miles away from the area in which the aircraft was 7 . when already attracted. An implication is present in this sentence too – Just 9 percent of fatal accidents happen when a plane is at cruising altitude. Malaysia/Asia. In the sentence Al – Qaida militants have used similar tactics to try and disguise their identities we see an example of the implication where the author induces the readers to think that the plane disappearance has certain connections with terrorism. In this sentence we have an example for functionalization too – Malaysia air force chief. even though the rogue state is 2. to read it as a whole. The most important information is put in the headline and written in large font expecting the readers. He acts simply as a mediator between the reader and the source of information. we have passivization: “… in which the aircraft was lost” and later in the article nomination: “But while Interpol collates information on stolen travel documents. Analysis 4: Las Vegas Sun This article’s headline “Missing Malaysian jet might have turned back. such Military radar indicates that missing Boeing 777 jet may have turned back. metaphor. There are many stylistic figures in language such as meronyms: Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia. it is not routinely shared by airlines. aircraft/fleet. Authors Eileen Ng and Chris Brummett have used language and discourse easy to understand. air force chief” 12 attracts the reader’s attention which was the author’s goal. It is written in formal language.lasvegassun.“A surprisingly popular theory is that the aircraft was downed by a missile from North Korea. The author does not establish a connection with the reader. Malaysia’s air force chief said Sunday as scores of ships and aircraft from across Asia resumed a hunt for the plane and its 239 passengers. according to a 12 http://www.” In the example above.

(Functionalization and nomination) Two – thirds of the jet’s passengers were from China. but the reader is able to conclude who is looking for traces from the rest of the article. (Nomination) Later. The following extracts embody Van Leeuwen’s strategies nomination. The author immediately reveals the new information which makes the whole article precise and concise. the plane was already cruising and the pilots didn’t send a distress signal… (Functionalization) On Saturday. (Functionalization) Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said pilots were supposed to inform the airline and traffic control authorities if the plane does start to return. Analysis 4: The New York Times 8 . civil aviation chef Azharuddin Abdul Rahman mentioned only two passengers with unverified identities.statistical summary of commercial jet accidents done by Boeing. the social actors are excluded. the foreign ministries in Italy and Austria said the names of two citizens listed on the flight’s manifest matched the names on two passports reported stolen in Thailand. In the beginning there is no introduction that could bring in the reader who is possibly not familiar with the news. (Collectivization) In this example: Finding traces of an aircraft that disappears over sea can take days or longer. collectivization and exclusion of social actors: The weather was fine. even with a sustained search effort. the crew and the plane. The dominant theme in this American newspaper is facts made after the disappearance. in which the author implies that the accident did not probably happen in the air. functionalization. The Las Vegas Sun article deals mostly with the new information revealed by the air force chief. while the other media (British Independent and BBC) deal with the disappearance itself and the facts about the passengers.

Noble. crew or pilots13 as the examples for collectivization. which means the social actors are seen as a group. functionalization. Also. international security experts. it means that someone feels helpless or passive. The language is quite simple and understandable even though it has numerous words from expert terminology. In a detailed analysis. we are meeting the rest of the text similar to British ones. killed. individualization) The next extract embodies the example of the implication which reveals possible author’s intentions to lead the reader to certain conclusions: With Malaysian officials refusing to release many details of their investigation and sometimes presenting conflicting information. The New York Times journalist uses the word victim. the families and friends of victims became increasingly frustrated. The word is used to describe a person who is harmed. injured. Every article analyzed here has passengers. individualization) Ronald K.14 The first thing most of us think of when hear or see 13 http://www. It is one of the journalists means to attract more and more readers with every new article. (fuctionalization and collectivization) Azharuddin Abdul Rahman. the public is confronted with the word “mystery” in this case.: Malaysian officials. After the catchy title.the Malaysian civil aviation chief (nomination. Also.html? _r=0 9 .com/2014/03/10/world/asia/malaysia-airlines-flight. the secretary general of the International Criminal Police Organization (nomination. e.This article.g.nytimes. has a very intriguing title. The paragraphs are a summary of already well know information. which reflects his personal opinion that the airplane with all his passengers and crew member suffered a great disaster. functionalization. For the first time since the disappearance of the plane. we find many similar or the same examples of Van Leeuwen’s theory of social actors. there are several word expressions which are combination of strategies. written by Thomas Fuller on 9 th March 2014. The word that was on the mind of many people is revealed in this newspaper.

From its definition we. The language used here is well written in means of style and grammar. The first part Missing flight MH370 sounds like one more sequence of daily report. Analysis 5: The Malay Mail Online This article is the most challenging one to analyze its discourse. but writes in English. The title is: “Missing flight MH370: the morning after”. The other reason and the more important one is that The Malay online is a medium from the country where the incident happened and the home of the airlines’ which has lost their plane and crew too. journalists should bear in mind all those people. The reader gets the feeling that he or she is at the place with other social actors and the text is more credible than others which provoke no images in our minds.oxforddictionaries. we see that it is simple and conveys the wanted data. It is written on 9th March 2014. It is certainly an ability of good writers. One of the reasons is the author. While writing of such a sensible thing. families and friends who are reading about the beloved ones. It tells us that possibly new information are revealed. The morning after tells us that we will have an insight on the current situation and facts among family members. “Why won’t anyone tell us anything?” she wailed. 14 http://www. the author of the article succeeded to provoke images in the reader's mind which makes him or her more involved in the whole story and eager to read and find out more. She is reporting directly from the International Airport in Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) where are announcing the latest news. can conclude that it is too easily used. Clara Chooi. as outside observers. When we take a look upon this sentence construction.this word is death. This is the one extremely emotional image that does not leave anyone indifferent. 24 hours since Malaysia Airlines flight dropped off the radar. One woman in Beijing collapsed in tears Sunday night in the hotel ballroom where passengers’ relatives were waiting for 10 . With the next sentences. and understandable. officials and experts. which is a non native speaker of English.

g. The article is not a version of the author’s subjective opinion. family members. nomination: All 12 crew members. There are examples of collectivization – aviation 11 . It does not affect her objectivity. senior pilot. there has been no sign of the Boeing B777-200 aircraft that left the city for Beijing at 12. We have got your approval for direct. Good day. this is an air traffic controller hoping of seeing you.”15 The newspaper article or any other written data. numerous Van Leeuwen’s strategies are present in the Malaysian newspaper.The Malay Mail Online’s article is the most detailed of all. On the other hand. meronyms (already seen in other articles Beijing/China) and implications. but rather an objective peace of the report. The excerpt quoted above is a perfect example of emotional involvement by the author. a novel. Twitter users. other airlines will try to avoid your route.themalaymailonline. When landed please wear your winter coat and remember to hug your loved one on arrival.41am yesterday without much fanfare. e. which are quite emotional for the readers: “MH370. functionalization – traffic controller. measuring at least 15km long. Weather enroute is good and Beijing temperature is 5 deg Celsius. were also Malasians. The BBC and Las Vegas Sun’s articles were not meant to provoke an emotional reaction. a senior pilot who has worked with MAS since 1981. a poem is considered effective if it succeeds to provoke and emotional reaction to the person who is reading it. the Malay article cannot leave the reader indifferent This article is enriched with stylistic figures such as metaphors. if you can hear us please maintain the current altitude and fly direct to destination. it contains messages dedicated to MH370 passengers. a little bit cold. 15 http://www. (Implication) Also. Also. They love you so much. Despite the massive deployment of army jets and navy vessels plying the rootless seas for hours. We are happy to give you priority to land. led by Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah. (Metaphor) Vietnamese air force planes have spotted two large oil slicks have been found off its country’s coast.

(Social actors exclusion) Analysis 6: The Star The second article from Malaysian newspaper is the shortest one of the six analyzed. 16 http://www. In the next paragraphs we do have some examples of Van Leeuwen’s strategies. number of passengers and the 12 . it lacks vast figurative speech and detailed descriptions. the time of department and expected arrival. Malaysia Airlines is a nominated company and represented as an individual.thestar.On social media websites. Still.m. which can be seen as individualization a. Many of them are already mentioned in former articles. The author. It is concise aiming to provide the latest cognitions about the missing plane and succeeds in it. The given information is about the place of the event. Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft. Hence it is so short and intended to publish the exact news. not just rumors. we are conscious that articles like this one have one purpose and that in to inform people which is surely possible without stylistic figures. is unknown. Fuad explained that the flight. who wrote it on the same day when Malaysia Airlines (MAS) confirmed that the flight was missing. The other examples of individualization in this article are: In the interview with Andersen Cooper.16 The quoted excerpt has examples of nomination (the first underlined noun phrase) and collectivization (the second underlined noun phrase). which departed 41 minutes after midnight from Kuala Lumpur was supposed to have arrived in Beijing after 6. there was an outpouring of sympathy from Malaysians towards the family members of those on board the missing aircraft. The first three paragraphs are meant to provide basic data in only five sentences.

crew members.Malaysian Airlines vice president of operations… (Functionalization) … Fuad Sharuji during an interview with CNN said that the aircraft should have run out of fuel by 8. but includes numerous technical terms in aviation. easy to understand in grammar and style. concise. able to convey all the necessary information. implications. speech acts. In the last sentence he adduces the regular updates will be provided by MAS.m. As we see in these articles. He succeeded to convey all the information to the public. meronymy. In this short article.17 Conclusion To sum up. we see that any kind of conclusion is missing.e. Newspaper articles shown above are full of stylistic figures of language such as 13 . containing numerous synonyms. i.thestar. (Nomination. The explanation is that the author meant the article to provide the basic knowledge about the event. journalists choose vocabulary appropriate to the reading audience. even though all of them are written by different authors with completely different views on the whole story about the with more or less figures of speech. individualization) The examples of collectivization are the same as in the previous articles – passengers. They can easily express their thoughts by writing. Saturday morning as it only had seven hours of fuel on board. infants. the topic is common. The media are considered to use a language and writing style that suit people. newspaper articles discourse is quite simple for analysis. No matter which is the topic. antonyms which make the work easier for authors. English language and vocabulary are rich. 17 http://www. The articles are well written.30 a.

The Malay Mail Online.malaysiaairlines. C. Norman. 1996. London. http://www. SAGE Publications. Theo. The Representation of Social Actors in Texts and Practices.lasvegassun. March Discourse Analysis as Theory and Method. London. Brummit. 2002. Longman Inc. http://www. March 7.References: Fairclough. Language and Power. New York. Louise. Marianne and Phillips. 2014. Routledge. E. Las Vegas Malaysia Airlines. Van 14 . Missing Malaysian Jet May Have Turned Back. 2014.http://www. Missing Malaysia plane: Search resumes of Air Force Chief Says.themalaymailonline. Jorgensen.

// http://www.thestar. April 3rd. 2014.Englehardt.http://www. C. 2014.motherjones. March http://www. 15 . Missing Flight MH370: The Morning http://www. March 9. Why Did the Media Devote So Much Attention to the Missing Malaysian Airplane? Mother Flight MH370 bound for Beijing goes missing. Tom.