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Running Head: THE WASHINGTON POST DISCOURSE COMMUNITY
The Washington Post Discourse Community
Yazmin Baquera
The University of Texas at El Paso
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Professor James Nielson

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The Washington Post Discourse Community
Introduction

Humans are very complex to understand. We all are accustomed to different needs and
wants. Every individual has a mindset of want they want to accomplish in life, but everyone goes
in a different route about it. However, we all have one thing in common. We all want to belong to
a community that accepts us for who we are, and where we can help our community prosper by
doing something that we love. This community is other than known as discourse community.
According to John Swales (1990), discourse community can be defined as a group with similar
interests that follow a particular set of rules that can be defined by six points. I've always been
fascinated by political science, and how a society works within its self. Even though us humans
belong to different discourse communities within a society, we are all intertwined with one
another by one common goal, to make our society prosper.
The Washington Post can be identified as a discourse community. This newspaper is a
resource for millions of Americans that rely on for breaking news within our society. Every
reporter, bureau chief / editor, section editor, copy editor, news editor, graphics group, online
Staff, video photographer, market data group, ethics maven, company lawyer, stipple portrait
artists, Library, and editor in chief all work together to keep The Washington Post up to date.
Each individual is vital to keep this post up and running, and to help it be the best news source.
This is a web of different departments, however they all communicate within each other to
ensure the newspaper will perform to the best of its ability. Essentially, this discourse community
relays heavily on communication, and is used both in written and spoken aspects.

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Literature Review

According to the reading, “The Concept of Discourse Community”, by John Swales, he
defines this topic by any group can be a discourse community, only if it meets a certain criteria
established by these following six points: A group has a specific set of agreed common goals, has
a mechanism of intercommunion among the group, provide information exchange and receive
feedback, certain requirements they follow, use a certain lexis or specific vocabulary accustomed
to them, and the members of the group should have certain degrees of knowledge of expertise
(Swales,1990).
On the other hand, in James Porter’s “Intertextuality and the Discourse Community”, he
discusses the idea that intertextuality is “the principle that all writing and speech arise from a
single network”(Porter, 1986,p.34). He then goes on to say “Intertextuality” means looking for
“traces,” the bits and pieces of text which writers or speaker’s borrow and sew together to create
new discourse”(Porter, 1986,p.34), in other means every writer is not “original”, when we write
we are influenced by other media or other written sources in which we use to create another
“discourse”. We find familiar texts and other sources and use them for inspiration in our own
writing, thus creating the idea of “genre”.
Genre is defined by Swales as “are recognize able to readers and writers” (Swales,
1990,p.216). Genres are formed over a period of time; this then provokes the rate of occurrence
to increase. The more people use them the more familiar they become, and they are then subject
to intertextuality.

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Methods

The references I used were “The Concept of Discourse Community” by John Swales, and
“Intertextuality and the Discourse Community” by James Porter. Both these essays clarify what a
discourse community is, and how one can be defined. Each essay gives insight on what kind of
examples are considered to be discourse communities to further give an understanding from their
viewpoint. I also analyzed other sources from the Internet to further understand the discourse
community of The Washington Post.
Discussion
As before, The Washington Post is a news source that reports breaking news as they
happen. It is composed of many departments and many personnel in order to fully write this
newspaper. All these departments each have an important job that is contributed to the paper, and
without one the whole newspaper is a disaster. Taking all these aspects into consideration, we
will analyze Swales six characteristics to prove this group is a discourse community. The first
requirement according to Swales is a group has a specific set of agreed common goals. The
Washington Post has a specific goal of being the first newspaper to report breaking news, and to
be the most reliable resource for news. Every day something happens around the world, even if
it’s very small. Americans want to be aware of what's happening in the world, and to be prepared
if mayhem were to happen. Many loved ones in American families live in different countries, and
if something were to happen in that region they would be the first to know because the
Washington Post reported it.

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The second requirement according to Swales is it has a mechanism of intercommunion
among the group. Personnel that work for the Washington Post communicate through many
different ways. They can communicate to each other via e-mail, text messaging, telephone calls,
or simply having a conversation with a group or one another. In the post they have a work e-mail
that is exclusive to them in the workplace, in which they have they're own web of
communication. Also, they have meetings within each department, or the whole newspaper staff
to discuss what important information needs to be addressed or discussed.
The third requirement is to provide information exchange and receive feedback. The
editor and chief so solemnly in charge of what is printed and released of the Washington Post.
They are the decision makers in the business, and they give instructions to each department of
what their task is at hand that day or what article needs to be published. The staff must adhere to
his/her instructions, to ensure success of the newspaper. The outcome of the staff following
directions is otherwise known as genres.
The fourth point is to follow certain requirements within the post. The newspaper has a
process in which an article is determined to be published or not. The first step, otherwise known
as newsgathering, is when the reporter gathers information about the subject, then sends a draft
to the editor via email. The editor then edits the draft, and sends it back to the reporter to revise
the mistakes seen by them. The second step, or Pre-press, is when the pages of the newspapers
are well laid out and designed by the team. After the stories have been edited, the editor is then
decided what is printed in the newspaper that day. After this is done, the editor then forwards this
to the computer graphic designer to transform from what is on the written planned copy
newspaper to the computer so it can be printed. The third step, or press, is when the newspaper

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goes under two stages to be printed. The first stage is called the lithographic stage. This is when
the designed pages of the newspaper are taken to the lithographic section where the stories are
put on a plate. This plate is used to run the printing of the paper on the printing machine. Then it
undergoes the impression stage. This is where the final product is produced; thousands of copies
are then made and distributed. The final step, or the post-press stage, is when the newspapers are
circulated all over the country.
The fifth requirement is when the staff uses a certain lexis or specific vocabulary
accustomed to them. The Washington Post uses terminology that only educated newspaper staffs
are aware of. They communicate using this terminology to make sure what they want done is
being done correctly. Also, this makes the percentage of error much less, and ensures accuracy. It
is vital to know what each term means, so you won't be lost among the staff when they
communicate with you.
The final requirement is the members of the group should have certain degrees of
knowledge of expertise. Each staff member is educated with a degree in communication,
journalism, English, liberal arts, broadcasting, or another comparable degree. These professionals
must at least have an associates degree or higher. If you want advance from a reporter and hold a
higher position it all depends on your experience. The more years you have under your belt, the
more likely you are to advance in this discourse community.
Conclusion
All in all, The Washington Post is a discourse community within itself. All six points that
Swales defined as requirements for a discourse community were met. This community works

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with one another through communication and uses a specific lexis to ensure the common goal of
producing the best newspaper is achieved. This community is composed of several departments,
however they are all interconnected to each other. Every department relies heavily on one
another in order to produce a complete newspaper. When breaking news occurs, you can rely on
the discourse community of The Washington Post to keep you updated.

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References
Porter, J. E. (1986). Intertextuality and the discourse community. Rhetoric Review, 5(1),
34-47.
Swales, J. (2011). The concept of discourse community. In Downs & Wardle (Eds.),
Writing about writing (pp. 466-473). Boston: Bedford St. Martins.
Fahrenthold, D. A. (1996). Washington Post: National, World & D.C. Area News and Headlines.
Retrieved September 11, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/ Newspaper
Vocabulary. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2016, from
http://www.angelfire.com/trek/puknews/refsnp.html
English Online. (n.d.).Retrieved September 11,2016, from http://www.englishonline.at/media/newspapers/newspapers.htm