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 Ruth Wodak and Brigitta Busch

I n our contribution, we focus on qualitative linguistic approaches to

media texts—especially on the approaches developed within critical
linguistics and critical discourse analysis. There are several important
reasons for this choice: In recent decades, there has been a significant
increase in international interest in applying qualitative research methods
to the study of social and cultural processes. Although the traditional
empirically oriented approach to media texts, mainly represented by
quantitative content analysis, is still widespread in mass communication
research (McQuail, 2000, p. 235), some observers (e.g., Jensen &
Jankowski, 1991) speak of a “qualitative turn” in media studies. This
shift of paradigm is not a question of preferences for particular method-
ologies but corresponds to conceptual and theoretical frameworks
distinct from the traditional sender-receiver model.
We cannot, however, elaborate on all the important research in con-
versation analysis (CA) and sociolinguistics, which has been concerned
with media analysis, due to the shift of paradigm mentioned above. CA
emerged in the 1960s (see Titscher, Wodak, Meyer, & Vetter, 2000, for
a summary). It is based on ethnomethodology (Garfinkel, 1967; Sacks,
Schegloff, & Jefferson, 1974) as an interpretative approach to sociol-
ogy, which focuses mainly on the organization of everyday life. Despite
the specificity of its name, CA represents a generic approach to the
study of social interaction. Much of the media text research in this field
focuses on relevant aspects of broadcast news interviews (Greatbach,
1986; Heritage, 1985), talk radio (Hutchby, 1991), and talk shows

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(Gruber, 1991; Kotthoff, 1997). CA describes the formal structure of

conversations (openings, turn takings, closings, topic control, interrup-
tions, etc.) and analyzes how they operate under the institutional
constraints of media. The strength of CA is based in detailed linguis-
tic description, focusing on the organization of interaction, without
considering the context. Context is defined within the text, depen-
dent on the explicit mentioning of relevant factors by the speakers (see
Schegloff, 1998).
In recent approaches to media texts mentioned above, however, the
“text” as such has been somewhat “decentralized,” and the focus of
interest has shifted to the (social, cultural, political) context and to the
“localization” of meaning. A similar change of paradigm in approaches
to texts has been occurring in linguistics. Media texts are also frequently
being used as data corpora in linguistic analysis. Garrett and Bell (1998,
p. 6) point out that more than 40% of the papers published in the lead-
ing journal Discourse & Society are based on media texts. In this chap-
ter, we argue that the agendas in both disciplines are obviously
converging and that interdisciplinary approaches to media texts can
offer deeper insights.

♦ The Concept of the Text more complex than the traditional models
in mass communication. Media texts are
perceived as dialogic, and the readings
The present trend in approaches to media depend on the receivers and on the settings.
texts can be characterized by turning away Researchers presume, therefore, that readers/
from “text-internal readings, where readers listeners or viewers interact with media (not
are theorized as decoders of fixed mean- only by writing letters to the editor but also
ings, to more dynamic models, where by interpreting and understanding them in
meanings are negotiated by actively partici- specific subjective ways). Media texts also
pating readers” (Meinhof, 1994, p. 212). It depend on intertextual relations with many
would be beyond the scope of this contri- other genres, diachronically or synchroni-
bution to discuss the different strands that cally. Texts relate to other texts, represented
have led to a more dynamic view of the by the media, through quotes or indirect
text. But we would like to emphasize that references, thus already adding particular
some of the works that have influenced the meanings or decontextualizing and recon-
change of paradigms in media studies have textualizing meanings. Media thus produce
been equally influential in critical linguistic and reproduce social meanings.
approaches, such as aspects of the work of Barthes (1966/1994), in his essay
the Bakhtin Circle by the early 20th-century “Introduction to the Structural Analysis of
Russian semioticians, Halliday’s (1978) Narrative,” differentiates between the work
work on social semiotics and pragmatics, and the text. Work refers to the artifact, to
the Foucauldian notion of discourse, and the fixed pattern of signifiers on pages,
argumentation theories. Van Dijk’s socio- whereas text refers to the process of mean-
cognitive approach has also had a consider- ing making, of reading. Fiske (1987/1989)
able impact (see below). takes up Barthes’s differentiation to distin-
All these approaches endorse an interac- guish between a program (on television)
tive model of communication, which is far and a text: “Programmes are produced,
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Approaches to Media Texts–––◆–––107

distributed, and defined by the industry: would imply a static, reified conception
texts are the product of their readers. So a of the text, but to identify and analyze dis-
programme becomes a text at the moment cursive strategies, argumentation schemes
of reading, that is, when its interaction with (topoi), and means of realization (in verbal
one of its many audiences activates some of as well as in other semiotic modes), as put
the meanings/pleasures that it is capable of forward by the discourse-historical approach
provoking” (p. 14). (see below). Bell (1984), for example, while
examining the microlinguistic level devel-
oped in audience design, considers conso-
LINGUISTIC AND NONLINGUISTIC nant groups in word endings. Fowler (1991)
METHODS OF TEXTUAL ANALYSIS applies some tools of functional linguistics
(transitivity, use of passives, nominalizations,
Titscher et al. (2000) provide an over- modality, etc.) in studying the language of
view of current methods of text analysis news media. This means that media analysis
that cover a broad and diverse range of is problem oriented and not dogmatically
methods such as grounded theory, ethno- related to the one or other linguistic theory
graphic approaches, psychoanalytically ori- or methodology. What seems appropriate
ented methods, qualitative heuristic text is a multimethod approach that combines
analysis, narrative semiotics, CA, and different levels of analysis and thus different
critical discourse analysis (CDA). On the tools.
basis of the definition of text provided by Linguistic methods are time-consuming
de Beaugrande and Dressler (1981), the in their detailed attention to the text, espe-
authors suggest that the two dimensions of cially when it comes to audio or audiovisual
coherence (the semantic dimension, which texts, which necessitate accurate transcrip-
is constitutive for the construction of mean- tion. In approaches to media texts, mixed
ing) and cohesion (the syntactic dimension) methods are very often employed. Examples
are constitutive of the text. The main dif- of such mixed approaches are the work
ference between linguistic and nonlinguistic of the Glasgow Media Group (1976, 1980,
analysis is that nonlinguistic methods focus 1985) on news programs or van Dijk’s
mainly on the semantic dimension of coher- work (1998) comparing news reports in
ence, whereas linguistic methods are based different countries. Both combine content
on a systematic analysis of both dimen- analysis with text-linguistic and discourse-
sions. The aim is to make the interconnec- analytical approaches.
tion between the cohesion and coherence As far as media are concerned, linguistic
dimensions apparent (Titscher et al., 2000, approaches have so far been focusing
pp. 49ff). mainly on the moment of the text, in the
Linguistic and sociolinguistic analysis sense of Fiske’s “program” or Barthes’s
pays attention to the linguistic detail, to the “work” (see above). Although there has
form and “texture” of the text (Fairclough, been increasing interest in audiences in the
1995, p. 21), aiming at illuminating socio- past years, studies that link media text and
cultural contexts. Garrett and Bell (1998) reception are still scarce (e.g., Lutz &
and Fairclough (1995) provide an overview Wodak, 1987; Meinhof, 1994; Morley,
of different text and discourse-analytical 1980; Richardson, 1998). Meinhof and
approaches and their application in media Smith (2000) elaborate Kristeva’s concept
studies. Approaches situated within critical of intertextuality to frame the collection of
linguistics (CL) emphasize the importance papers concerned with this link.
of the context, the social and historical sit- The news genre has been the most
uativity of the text, and the intertextual/ prominent research focus so far in linguis-
interdiscursive dimension. Thus, the claim tic approaches to texts, especially in dis-
is not to unveil “hidden meanings,” as this course analysis. The press has received
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comparatively more attention than television, critical and discourse. Most recently,
and outside of conversation analysis, radio Michael Billig (2002) has clearly shown that
has been relatively neglected, except for CDA has become an established academic
some studies of news programs (e.g., Lutz & discipline with the same rituals and institu-
Wodak, 1987). tional practices as all other academic disci-
plines. Ironically, he asks whether this might
mean that CDA has become “uncritical” or
CDA whether the use of acronyms such as CDA
might serve the same purposes as in other
The terms critical linguistics (CL) and traditional, noncritical disciplines—namely,
critical discourse analysis (CDA) are often to exclude outsiders and to mystify the func-
used interchangeably. In fact, recently, the tions and intentions of the research. We can-
term CDA seems to have been preferred not answer Billig’s questions extensively in
and is being used to denote the theory for- this chapter. But we do believe that he sug-
merly identified as CL. The roots of CDA gests some interesting and potentially very
lie in classical rhetoric, text linguistics, and fruitful and necessary debates for CDA.
sociolinguistics, as well as in applied lin- Researchers in CDA rely on a variety of
guistics and pragmatics. The notions of grammatical approaches. The definitions of
ideology, power, hierarchy, and gender, the terms discourse, critical, ideology,
together with sociological variables, were power, and so on are also manifold (see
all seen as relevant for an interpretation or below; Garrett & Bell, 1998; van Dijk,
explanation of text. The subjects under 2002; Wodak, 1996a). Thus, any criticism
investigation differ for the various depart- of CDA should always specify which
ments and scholars who apply CDA. research or researcher they relate to because
Gender issues, issues of racism, media CDA as such cannot be viewed as a holistic
discourses, political discourses, organiza- or closed paradigm.
tional discourses, or dimensions of identity
research have become very prominent.1
The Notions of Discourse,
Bell and Garrett (1998) and Marris and
Critical, Power, and Ideology
Thornham (2000) provide excellent over-
views on recent media studies and their CDA is concerned with “language as
relationships to CDA. social practice” (Fairclough & Wodak,
The methodologies differ greatly in all of 1997) and considers the context of language
these studies, on account of the aims of the use to be crucial (Benke, 2000; Wodak,
research and also the methodologies 2000):
applied: Small qualitative case studies are to
be found, as well as large data corpora, CDA sees discourse—language use in
drawn from fieldwork and ethnographic speech and writing—as a form of “social
research. CDA takes a particular interest in practice.” Describing discourse as social
the relationship between language and practice implies a dialectical relationship
power. The term CDA is used nowadays to between a particular discursive event
refer more specifically to the critical linguis- and the situation(s), institution(s) and
tic approach of scholars who find the larger social structure(s), which frame it: the
discursive unit of text to be the basic unit discursive event is shaped by them, but it
of communication. This research specifi- also shapes them. That is, discourse is
cally considers more or less overt relations socially constitutive as well as socially
of social struggle and conflict in all the conditioned—it constitutes situations,
domains mentioned above. objects of knowledge, and the social
Deconstructing the label of this research identities of and relationships between
program means that we have to define what people and groups of people. It is consti-
CDA means when employing the terms tutive both in the sense that it helps to
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Approaches to Media Texts–––◆–––109

sustain and reproduce the social status conventionally used in a broader sense,
quo and in the sense that it contributes denoting, as Krings argues, the practical
to transforming it. Since discourse is so linking of “social and political engagement”
socially consequential, it gives rise to with “a sociologically informed construc-
important issues of power. Discursive tion of society” (Krings, Baumgartner, &
practices may have major ideological Wildly, 1973, p. 808). At the same time, in
effects—that is, they can help produce Fairclough’s (1995) words, “In human mat-
and reproduce unequal power relations ters, interconnections and chains of cause-
between (for instance) social classes, and-effect may be distorted out of vision.
women and men, and ethnic/cultural Hence ‘critique’ is essentially making visible
majorities and minorities through the the interconnectedness of things” (p. 747;
ways in which they represent things and see also Connerton, 1976/1996, pp. 11–39).
position people. (Fairclough & Wodak, For CDA, language is not powerful on
1997, p. 258) its own—it gains power by the use power-
ful people make of it, specifically in new
Of course, the term discourse is used public spaces or new genres provided
very differently by different researchers and by globalized media (Baudrillard, 2000;
also in different academic cultures. In the Fairclough, 2000a; Habermas, 2000; Hall,
German and Central European context, a 2000a, 2000b). In agreement with its criti-
distinction is made between text and cal theory predecessors, CDA emphasizes
discourse, relating to the tradition in text the need for interdisciplinary work to gain
linguistics as well as to rhetoric (for sum- a proper understanding of how language
maries, see Brünner & Graefen, 1994; functions in constituting and transmitting
Wodak, 1996a). In the English-speaking knowledge, in organizing social institu-
world, discourse is often used both for writ- tions, or in exercising power.
ten and oral texts (see Schiffrin, 1994). Not only the notion of struggles for
Other researchers distinguish between dif- power and control but also the “intertextu-
ferent levels of abstractness: Lemke (1995) ality” and “recontextualization” of compet-
defines text as the concrete realization of ing discourses in various public spaces and
abstract forms of knowledge (discourse), genres are closely attended to. Power is
thus adhering to a more Foucauldian about relations of difference, particularly
approach (see also Jäger, 2001). about the effects of differences in social
In the discourse-historical approach, we structures. The constant unity of language
elaborate and relate to the sociocognitive and other social matters ensures that lan-
theory of Teun van Dijk (1985, 1993, 1998) guage is entwined in social power in a
and view discourse as a form of knowledge number of ways: Language indexes power,
and memory, whereas text illustrates con- expresses power, and is involved where there
crete oral utterances or written documents is contention over and a challenge to power.
(Reisigl & Wodak, 2001). Critical media Power does not derive from language, but
studies view discourse as interactive, as language can be used to challenge power, to
negotiated between producers and audience, subvert it, to alter distributions of power in
as a process in construction. Text is the the short and the long term.
(oral, visual, or written) manifestation of
this (see Garrett & Bell, 1998).
The shared perspective and program THEORETICAL AND
of CDA relate to the term critical, which in METHODOLOGICAL APPROACHES
the work of some “critical linguists” could be
traced to the influence of the Frankfurt Kress (1990) concentrates on what he
school or Jürgen Habermas (Anthonissen, terms the “political economy” of represen-
2001; Fay, 1987, p. 203; Thompson, 1988, tational media—that is, an attempt to
pp. 71ff). Nowadays, this concept is understand how various societies value
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different modes of representation and how social and cultural change. Particularly the
they use these different modes of represen- language of the mass media is scrutinized
tation. (This is a different sense of the term as a site of power and social struggle, as
political economy from the one Wasko well as a site where language is often only
deploys in Chapter 15, this volume.) A cen- apparently transparent. Media institutions
tral aspect of this work is the attempt to often purport to be neutral, in that they
understand the formation of the individual provide space for public discourse, reflect
human being as a social individual in states of affairs disinterestedly, and give the
response to available “representational perceptions and arguments of the news-
resources.” One by-product of this research makers. Fairclough shows the fallacy of such
interest has been Kress’s increasing involve- assumptions and illustrates the mediating
ment in overtly political issues, including and constructing role of the media with a
the politics of culture. Moreover, he has variety of examples.
been concerned with multimodality and Van Dijk and Kintsch (1983) early on
semiotics. Together with Theo van Leeuwen, considered the relevance of discourse to the
Kress has developed a taxonomy that allows study of language processing. Their devel-
the precise description and interpretation opment of a cognitive model of discourse
of visual data (Kress & van Leeuwen, understanding in individuals gradually
1996). This work has influenced research developed into cognitive models for explain-
on the new media (see Lemke, 2001; ing the construction of meaning at a soci-
Scollon, 1999). etal level. Van Dijk turned specifically to
The work of Fowler, Kress, Hodge, and media discourse, not only giving his own
Trew (1979) has been cited to demonstrate reflection on communication in the mass
the early foundations of CL. Later work media (van Dijk, 1986) but also bringing
of Fowler (1991, 1996) shows how tools together the theories and applications of
provided by standard linguistic theories (a a variety of scholars interested in the pro-
1965 version of Chomskyan grammar and duction, uses, and functions of media dis-
Halliday’s [1985] theory of systemic func- courses (van Dijk, 1985). In critically
tional grammar) could be used to uncover analyzing various kinds of discourses that
linguistic structures of power in texts. Not encode prejudice, van Dijk is interested in
only in news discourses but also in literary developing a theoretical model that will
criticism, Fowler illustrates that systematic explain cognitive discourse processing
grammatical devices function in establish- mechanisms (Wodak & van Dijk, 2000).
ing, manipulating, and naturalizing social Most recently, van Dijk has focused on
hierarchies. Fowler concentrated on analyz- issues of racism and ideology (van Dijk,
ing news discourses and in providing gram- 1998) and on an elaboration of a theory of
matical tools (transitivity and modality) for context (van Dijk, 2001). The sociocogni-
such an analysis. tive model of van Dijk is based on the
Fairclough (1989) sets out the social the- assumption that cognition mediates between
ories underpinning CDA, and as in other “society” and “discourse.” Long term and
early critical linguistic work, a variety of short-term memories and certain mental
textual examples are analyzed to illustrate models shape our perception and compre-
the field, its aims, and methods of analysis. hension of discursive practices and also
Later, Chouliaraki and Fairclough (1999) imply stereotypes and prejudices, if such
explain and elaborate some advances in mental models become rigid and overgener-
CDA, showing not only how the analytical alized. The methodology used is eclectic,
framework for researching language in rela- based primarily on argumentation theory
tion to power and ideology developed but and semantic theories.
also how CDA is useful in disclosing the In the Vienna school of CDA, the investi-
discursive nature of much contemporary gation of language use in institutional
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settings is central (Muntigl, Weiss, & other. And there is discourse in the
Wodak, 2000; Wodak, 1996a). A new focus Foucauldian sense, discourse as a way of
on the necessity for a historical perspective representing social practice(s), as a form
is also introduced (the discourse historical of knowledge, as the things people say
approach). A second important research about social practice(s). (p. 193)
focus of the Vienna school of CDA is the
study of racism and anti-Semitism in the “Critical discourse analysis,” according
media and other public spaces (see Wodak, to van Leeuwen, is or should be concerned
1996b; Wodak et al., 1990; Wodak, de with both these aspects: “with discourse as
Cillia, Reisigl, & Liebhart, 1999; Wodak, the instrument of power and control as well
Menz, Mitten, & Stern, 1994; Wodak & as with discourse as the instrument of the
van Dijk, 2000; and below). Thirdly, and of social construction of reality” (van Leeuwen,
course related to the latter two issues, is the 1993, p. 193). Van Leeuwen (1993) devel-
study of identity constructions and changes oped a most influential methodological
of identities at national and transnational tool: the actors analysis. This taxonomy
levels. allows for the analysis of both written and
Recognition of the contribution of all oral data, related to agency in a very differ-
aspects of the communicative context to entiated and validated way. The taxonomy
text meaning, as well as a growing aware- has since then been widely applied in data
ness in media studies generally of the analysis.
importance of nonverbal aspects of texts, The Duisburg school of CDA (Jäger, 1993,
has turned attention to semiotic devices in 2001) draws on Foucault’s notion of dis-
discourse other than the linguistic ones. course. According to Jäger (1999, p. 116),
Pioneering work on the interaction between discourse is “materiality sui generis,” and dis-
the verbal and visual in texts and discourse, course theory is a “materialistic cultural
as well as on the meaning of images, has theory.” Jäger is also influenced by Alexej
been done by Theo van Leeuwen (Kress & N. Leontjev’s “speech activity theory”
van Leeuwen, 1996). Particularly the (Sprechtätigkeitstheorie, Leontjev, 1984)
theory put forward by Kress and van and Jürgen Link’s (1988) “collective sym-
Leeuwen (1996) should be mentioned here, bolism.” As institutionalized and conven-
as this provides a useful framework for con- tionalized speech modes, discourses express
sidering the communicative potential of societal power relations, which in turn are
visual devices in the media (see Anthonissen, affected by discourses. This “overall dis-
2001; Scollon, 2001). Van Leeuwen studied course” of society, which could be visualized
film and television production as well as as a “diskursives Gewimmel” (literally: “dis-
Hallidayan linguistics. His principal publi- cursive swarming”), becomes comprehensi-
cations are concerned with topics such as ble in different discourse strands (composed
the intonation of disc jockeys and news- of discourse fragments from the same
readers, the language of television inter- subject) at different discourse levels (science,
views and newspaper reporting, and, more politics, media, etc.). Every discourse is his-
recently, the semiotics of visual communi- torically embedded and has repercussions
cation and music. His approach has on current and future discourse. The unifor-
increasingly led him into the field of educa- mity of the hegemonic discourse makes it
tion. Van Leeuwen (1993) distinguishes two possible that analysis requires only a “rela-
kinds of relations between discourses and tively small number of discourse frag-
social practices: ments.” Siegfried Jäger and Margret Jäger
(1999) offer concrete model analyses deal-
discourse itself [as] social practice, ing with everyday racism, the analysis of
discourse as a form of action, as some- the “discourse strand of biopower” in a
thing people do to or for or with each daily newspaper (S. Jäger), and an analysis
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of interwoven discourses relating to the point out that there is a serious lack of
“criticism of patriarchy in immigration systematic research available on language
discourse” (M. Jäger). The discourse of the and the media in multilingual settings
so-called “new right” in Germany was also (Boyd-Barrett, Nootens, & Pugh, 1996;
analyzed by M. Jäger and S. Jäger (1993), Grin, 1996; Leitner, 1997; Robins, 1997).
who based their research on different right- The new transnational configurations of
wing print media. They identified important media landscapes with their particular
common characteristics (e.g., specific sym- articulations between the local and the
bols, “ethno-pluralism” [apartheid], aggres- global would thus necessitate deeper
siveness, antidemocratic attitudes, etc.) as insights. Concerning ethnic minorities, the
well as significant linguistic and stylistic media text-oriented research mainly investi-
differences dependent on the different target gates the representation of the “Other” in
groups of the newspapers. (mainstream) media (see below). In the field
of minority media, a shift of paradigm has
occurred (Busch, 1999b): In the past, ques-
SOME RESEARCH AGENDAS tions of access to information and minority
rights were a main focus, whereas present
With the debate on globalization and on work concentrates more on constructions
European integration, there is an increasing of (multiple) identities. Consequently, audi-
interest in media and multilingual audi- ence-centered approaches are now domi-
ences, cross-cultural and transnational per- nant. From the linguistic point of view, the
spectives, and the global-local articulation. role of media in supporting/reviving minor-
Most of the research in these fields focuses ity or less used languages has been a con-
on structural or political dimensions and/or cern throughout. The scarce text-analytical
on audience research, but there are only a studies of media in minority languages in
few research projects concerned with media Europe show that, particularly among
texts. Richardson and Meinhof (1999) con- smaller language communities, the spec-
tributed to filling the gap with a series of trum of topics covered has considerably
comparative case studies on satellite televi- narrowed, leading to a focus on questions
sion programs proposed by news channels internal to the group (Busch, 1999a).
addressing a global audience (News Corp’s
Sky News and Germany’s, local TV
channels in Germany and Britain, and THE REPRESENTATION
the European TV experience (ARTE, Euro- OF THE “OTHER”
News), drawing on discourse analysis,
applied linguistics, and social semiotics. The representation of the “Other,” the
Equally interested in addressing multilin- representation of cultural diversity, and the
gual audiences and in multilingual texts is a reproduction of racism and xenophobia
whole range of sociolinguistic and linguis- through media have been key research top-
tic research covering a very diverse range ics in the past few decades. Such studies
of media and genres that vary from multi- have traditionally used a (critical) discourse
lingual aspects in advertising (Grin, 1996), analysis and cultural studies approach.2
code switching in popular music (e.g., All these studies focus on the production
Bentahlia & Davies, 2002), and different and reproduction of stereotypes through
aspects of subtitling and dubbing (Gambier, print media and the internet, as well as
1997) to the emergence of “Hinglish” and through TV. Van Dijk’s sociocognitive
“Spanglish”—hybrid Hindi-English and approach focuses on the schemata through
Spanish-English spoken codes, respectively— which minorities are perceived and illus-
in radio and TV. Nevertheless, researchers trated, as well as on headlines in the press.
working in linguistics and media studies Headlines and their syntactic and semantic
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configuration typically represent “others” unemployment was thus highlighted. These

as perpetrators and agents, as anonymous totally constructed fears and threats started
and criminal, whereas the police and victims immediately after the fall of the Iron Curtain
are passivized and presented as suffering. in 1989–1990 (see Reisigl & Wodak, 2000,
The 1986 “Waldheim affair” in Austria, 2001). The media reporting went through
which exposed the former United Nations three distinct phases: Firstly, a rather pater-
(UN) general secretary as having lied about nalistic, condescending tone was applied
his past in the German Wehrmacht, towards those countries and people “who
brought latent anti-Semitic prejudices to the had no democratic experience.” Secondly, a
fore. “Jews,” “certain circles,” “Jews full of discourse of “pity” took over, as soon as the
revenge,” “rich Jews,” “Socialist Jews,” and living conditions of some population groups
so on were accused of being part of a became known. And thirdly, as soon as
“world conspiracy” to attack Waldheim migrants started crossing the borders to the
all around the world. The political party West, racist beliefs and attitudes became
that launched Waldheim’s candidacy for loud. Thus, it was possible to study and
the Austrian presidency (the Austrian exemplify the genesis of racism in media
People’s Party), functionalized old and new reporting (Matouschek, Januschek, &
anti-Semitic stereotypes in this election Wodak, 1995).
campaign. Very characteristic of the The terrorist attacks in the United States
Austrian variety of such discourses were on September 11, 2001, reinforced anti-
subtle linguistic features, such as implica- Islamic feelings and prejudices. The repre-
tions, insinuations, and facile categoriza- sentations in the media of Muslims and the
tions because blatant anti-Semitic slander Islamic religion generalized the fear of
has been taboo in official contexts in post- terrorism to all people who “look different.”
war Austria. The election campaign for the Usama Suleiman (2001) has analyzed the
right-winger Jörg Haider and the right- reporting in the Israeli, Palestinian, and U.S.
wing populist party (Freedom Party) in media about a number of important events
Vienna 2001 again made use of such stereo- since the founding of the state of Israel.
types.3 This illustrates how, whenever He was able to show that the representation
scapegoats are needed to channel anxieties, of Israelis in the Palestinian press, of
insecurities, aggressions, or failures, racist Palestinians in the Israeli press, and of both
and anti-Semitic discourses appear and are conflicting parties in the American press was
reproduced through the media. significantly biased because of the interests
Stuart Hall (2000b) has also been able to of leading political elites. One frequently had
demonstrate that the British media are the impression that totally different events
biased when writing or talking about and people were being written about.
minorities and migrants. Specifically, in Arab reporting about Israel has become
recent riots and conflicts (such as in more and more laden with old anti-Semitic
Bradford in 2001), the unemployed young stereotypes since the new wars in the
people who felt and were in reality Middle East of 2001–2002 (see Wistrich,
excluded from access and participation in 2002). Conflicts in that period also led to
many social domains were depicted very more anti-Semitic clichés in the European
negatively and associated with criminality press: analogies to Nazis and to concentra-
and drug abuse. More and more in Europe, tion camps were drawn in the French and
immigrants, especially African men, have German media. European Jews—even all
come to be blamed for drug-related crimes. Jews—were made responsible for Israeli
Immigration laws throughout the Euro- government policies.
pean Union have become stricter, and hence Overall, strategies of generalization,
discrimination and racism became stron- blaming the victims, and victim-perpetrator
ger, legitimizing such restrictions. Fear of reversal were increasingly prominent. Stories
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about one bad experience with “one Jew, which confirms the difference in modes of
Roma, Arab, Turk, and so on” were gener- expression of prejudice between elites and
alized onto the whole ethnic group. Such ordinary people (see Wodak & van Dijk,
“prejudice stories” characterize media report- 2000). On the other hand, all countries
ing as well as everyday racism (Essed, 1993). employed the linguistic features mentioned
Disclaimers are another salient feature of above in their reporting and news items.
such reporting: “Everybody has best Jewish, Access to the media was also very difficult
Turkish . . . friends, but . . . .” These clauses for minority-ethnic professionals.
always introduce massive prejudices. The
“denial of racism” (van Dijk, 1988a,
1988b) is another important characteristic. HATE SPEECH AND WAR
Denying racist, anti-Semitic, or xenophobic
attitudes while latently functionalizing them After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the
in anti-immigrant reporting is necessary in outbreak of armed conflicts in Southeastern
pluralistic societies that claim to be “open” and Eastern Europe, media developments in
and “tolerant” (see Martín-Rojo & van the so-called countries of transition became
Dijk, 1997; Wodak & van Dijk, 2000). a focus of interest. On the level of text
ter Wal (2002) has provided an overview analysis, the questions of hate speech,
of research in racism and cultural diversity biased reporting, and representation of
in the mass media for the European Union, minorities have attracted research interest.
for the European Monitoring Center on Some of these works use quantitative con-
Racism, Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism tent analysis; others combine quantitative
( She found that in the aspects with qualitative text or discourse-
period researched (1995–2000), the pre- analytical approaches. The scope ranges
dominant methodology used was quantita- from case studies on particular media (e.g.,
tive content analysis, but in many studies, Kuzmanic, 1999, on racism, sexism, and
two or more approaches were incorpo- chauvinism in Slovenian print media; Valic,
rated. The most common combination was 1997, on war reporting on local radio in
that of content and discourse analysis or of Serbia) to studies on the representation of
discourse analysis complemented by ethno- particular groups (e.g., Erjavec, Hrvatin, &
graphic fieldwork and semiotic analysis. Kelbl, 2000, on Roma in Slovenia).
Especially in the Scandinavian countries, Qualitative work mainly refers to the theo-
Spain, Italy, Austria, and the Netherlands, retical and methodological approaches
qualitative discourse analysis was well developed by CDA (in particular, van Dijk,
established in the field. Another frequent 1991; Wodak, 1996b).
approach to media texts was the cultural During and after the war in former
studies approach, which focuses on the Yugoslavia, two major international text
mythical elements on which ideological sig- analysis projects were initiated and financed
nifications have been built. The majority of by nongovernmental organizations to
the research was on the press, some on tele- investigate hate speech: The project “Media
vision, but virtually none on radio. The and War” (Skopljanac Brunner, Gredelj,
perspective gradually shifted from an analy- Hodzic, & Kristofic, 2000) brought
sis of news production and news content together a large interdisciplinary group of
to a more contextualized analysis, taking researchers from Croatia and Serbia, a dif-
into consideration the audience perspective ficult task in a period of complete commu-
and the possibility of negotiating identities. nication blockade in the region. Its findings
When the 15 member states of the European were based on a large body of data drawn
Union were compared, it could be shown from the print media—the two major
that in all countries, a big difference existed dailies in the respective countries Vjesnik
between tabloids and more elite media, and Politika— and television news programs
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Approaches to Media Texts–––◆–––115

on the national (state) stations. Similar to global perspective were selected for the
van Dijk’s (1991) comparative study of monitoring process. Each affiliated research
news discourses, the core of the “Media center extracted from the press texts con-
and War” study combined content analy- cerning the other countries involved in the
sis and discourse analysis methods comple- project as well as texts concerning national,
mented with a semantic field analysis ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities
(Skiljan, 2000) on the word rat (war), as within the country. Within such texts,
well as background information on the verbal realizations of stereotypes and preju-
political situation and the role of the media dices were located and analyzed. As the
during the period of disintegration of for- project had a strong emphasis on dissemi-
mer Yugoslavia and the outbreak of war in nation, findings were published at 6 monthly
Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The pub- intervals in a substantial news bulletin
lication (Skopljanac Brunner et al., 2000) (Balkan Neighbours Newsletter, 1994–
that resulted from this study refrains from 2000), which was circulated to opinion
drawing general conclusions and does not leaders in the different countries. The data
extrapolate the findings to draw more gen- were also available on the internet (www.
eral conclusions about hate speech. It is Each bul-
left to the reader to compare the conclu- letin comprised a short description of the
sions drawn by different authors employing analyzed papers, an overview of the major
different methods of analysis (tacit trian- political events, and a contextualized com-
gulation). A main focus is the discursive pilation of the extracted stereotypes. The
strategies employed in constructing new long monitoring period made it possible to
national identities in which strategies of pin down moments of transformation of
creating in-groups and out-groups by particular stereotypes in relation to certain
emphasizing differences between “us” and events. Transformations occurred not only
“them” play a key role, as well as strate- when armed conflict broke out but also,
gies of internal homogenization, such as for example, after a major earthquake in
invoking “national unity and solidarity,” Turkey, when Greece provided rapid help.
and of victimizing one’s own group while
accusing the other of aggression. It was
striking how frequently Croatian media FEMINIST RESEARCH
dwelt on locating the newly founded state
on a map of the imaginary: Croatia was Feminist readings of media texts have
depicted as an integral part of Europe, and both an academic and a political focus (see
Europe, in turn, was depicted as a centuries- Kuhn, 2000, 62ff). On one hand, many
old Schicksalsgemeinschaft—a community studies have compared representations of
formed by historical destiny—based on men and women in magazines as well as in
Christian values. newspapers or on TV talk shows (see
Another recent major international text Eggins & Iedema, 1997; Kotthoff, 1997;
analysis project in Southeastern Europe was Lalouschek, 2002; Wetschanow, 2003;
the “Balkan neighbors project,” which Winship, 1986). On the other hand, femi-
involved researchers in Albania, Bulgaria, nist criticism focuses on a different decon-
Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, and struction of texts, on “women’s genres”
Yugoslavia (Balkan Neighbours News- and the construction of femininity (see
letter, 2000, Issue 10). It was also initiated Kuhn, 1984). The aim of such studies is
and financed by nongovernmental organi- to question dichotomies and traditional
zations. Between 1994 and 2000, the project distinctions, such as the public-private,
monitored mainstream print media. In the knowledge-pleasure, and the masculine-
each country, a range of several dailies and feminine splits (see also Marris &
weekly political magazines with a different Thornham, 2000, pp. 330ff). The slogan
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that stems from the women’s liberation officials, police officers, and bureaucrats
movement—“the private is political”—has were always represented benevolently,
become very important for these analyses, whereas the victims, often enough women,
which also include soap operas, infotain- were blamed for being weak, not remem-
ment, talk shows, crime stories, thrillers, bering accurately, or being noncompliant.
and so on. They are thus doubly harassed: first in the
These first relevant studies were comple- terrible situation and context of violence
mented recently by an attempt to include and, secondly, through the representation
race, class, and ethnicity into such analyses in the media and at court or through other
(Squire, 2000). It was agreed that feminist bureaucracies that define them.
analysis needs to be placed in context and Eggins and Iedema (1997) studied not
that discourse analysis of media about only the language of women’s magazines in
gender roles needs to be context dependent Australia but also the visual images of
(see Kotthoff & Wodak, 1997). Much women by employing important features of
work has also followed postmodern think- Hallidayan functional systemic grammar
ing (Brunsdon, 1991) by introducing new and visual grammar, developed by Kress and
genres, the concept of “fragmentation,” van Leeuwen (1996) (see above). Eggins and
and an emphasis on deconstructing subjec- Iedema compared two Australian magazines,
tivity and on the collapse of boundaries— New Woman and She. Although both mag-
including those of gender. azines express similar topical dimensions
The study of Wetschanow (2003) ana- (orientation to appearance, to hetero-
lyzes media reporting on violence against sexuality, to women and men in isolation
women and on the reporting of rape cases in [without other variables], etc.), they address
Austrian print media as well as TV. different audiences: New Woman calls for
Although she concentrates on one central women’s empowerment through individual
European country, the results could quite change and thus neutralizes the possibility
easily be generalized. By combining quanti- of real emancipation as a political process.
tative content analysis with qualitative criti- She, in contrast, provides simple dichotomic
cal discourse analysis of media texts, she answers to and evaluations of complex
illustrates convincingly how strategies of cat- problems and constructs rigid boundaries
egorization are significantly different for the between “women and men,” between the
victims and perpetrators, as well as for men “good and bad,” the “beautiful and the
and women. The strategy of victim-perpetra- ugly,” and so on. The authors conclude that
tor reversal is applied frequently, and the the magazines offer “difference without
men who are accused of raping a woman are diversity” and thus—they claim—stabilize
switched into the role of passive victims who the status quo.
were seduced and could not defend them-
selves against their sexual drives. Women are
depicted as seductresses, as initiators, and PERSPECTIVES
thus possibly guilty of the harm done to
them. The adjectives employed as attributes In our ever more globalizing world,
mark these differences and characteristics. media have gained more power. The impact
The same pattern holds true for violence. of media on political developments and
Patricia O’Connor (2002) has investigated decision making still has to be fully
and also worked with victims of violence explored. Moreover, the influence of media
(men and women), as well as with perpetra- on the production and reproduction of
tors in prisons. O’Connor (2002) and beliefs, opinions, stereotypes, prejudices,
McElhinny (1997) were able to demonstrate and ideologies also has to be thoroughly
empirically, through their discourse analy- investigated and compared throughout
sis of interactions and media texts, that different countries worldwide. Qualitative
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Approaches to Media Texts–––◆–––117

in-depth studies on audiences, reception, 2. See Hall (2000a, 2000b); Fairclough

and perceptions of readers, viewers, or lis- (2000a, 2000b); Wodak et al. (1990); Wodak
teners are also missing. (2001a, 2001b); Reisigl and Wodak (2001);
The cultural influence of the U.S. media Matouschek, Januschek, and Wodak (1995); ter
on other media (e.g., in Europe) has slowly Wal (2002); Suleiman (2001); van Leeuwen
started to be perceived. This influence is (2000); Wodak and van Dijk (2000); van Dijk
apparent in the construction of new genres, (1997, 1998); Stern (2000); Mitten (1992);
new public spaces, new modes of adver- Gruber (1991); and Wodak and Reisigl (1999).
tisement, and so on. The impact of trans- 3. See Wodak and Pelinka (2002).
national media (such as CNN or ARTE)
on identity construction has yet to be
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