Journalistic stance in Chinese and Australian hard news
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 02:18 by Changpeng Huan
This research probes into the concept of journalistic stance by defining it as a nexus of social practice rather than simply linguistic realizations. Journalistic stance has been investigated by drawing on an ontological approach – a multiperspectival approach – to language in social life. This multiperspectival approach holds that analysing discourse/language in social life (e.g. journalistic stance taking practices) needs to incorporate semiotic analysis of discursive performances on site (e.g. the discursive aspect of journalistic stance); ethnographically grounded examination of social, institutional and professional practices and interaction order (e.g. the social-institutional aspect of journalistic stance); accumulated accounts of discursive practices by ratified members of the communities of practice under investigation (e.g. the cognitive or personal aspect of journalistic stance); and explicit reveal of analysts’ motivational relevancies and practice relevance in relation to participants’ perspectives. News writing constitutes the central daily social practice of journalism practitioners. Hence, this research takes the discursive aspect of journalistic stance in news texts as the analytical point of entry into understanding the ways journalistic stances are enacted in Chinese and Australian print media hard news reporting. The discursive aspect of journalistic stance is problematized with the assistance of newly built Chinese and Australian corpora of hard news reporting in relation to discourses of Risk. The APPRAISAL framework has been adopted in the identification of stance markers in news texts. The social-institutional and (inter)personal aspects of journalistic stance have been examined with insights gained from participant observation in news institutions to understand news production processes. Emphasis has been placed on the articulation of news values and the exercise of symbolic power in each context of news production. This research has found an intimate relationship between the discursive articulation of stance patterns in news texts, the production and reproduction of prioritized news values and power relations in Chinese and Australian news discourses. Mediating positive affect and judgement of social esteem of Chinese authorities in communicating risks is more preferable in the Chinese press. In contrast, the Australian press prefer to mediate negative affect of those individuals influenced by risk events in question but Australian journalists are less likely to provoke judgement of news actors than their Chinese peers. Chinese and Australian journalists undertake different stances in mediating different voices in risk communication. Chinese journalists tend to close down the dialogic space for alternative voices when mediating official sources, whereas they tend to open up the dialogic space when mediating news maker voices. In the Australian press, the dialogic space of the official voice is opened up as much as it is closed down. However, the analysis of attesting sources (e.g. eyewitness sources) has shown that Australian journalists are hardly on site in reporting risk events, but that Chinese journalists are often on site and eyewitness the happening of risk events. Australian journalists rely heavily on official and organizational sources, whereas Chinese journalists rely on their own authorial voice. The analysis of news values has demonstrated that the news value of positivity is rather marginal in the Australian press, but that it constitutes a significant news value in the Chinese press. The other news value that has been prioritized in the Chinese press is that of personalization (e.g. the human interest aspect of an event or issue). These two news values – positivity and personalization – have been prioritized consistently in the Chinese press, because they are always highlighted in policy documents in news institutions, in daily editorial meetings, in Chinese journalists’ perception of news values and projected on stance patterns in news texts. The power relations and hegemony were (re)produced in each context of news discourse in different ways. Although Chinese press have been undergoing reform towards marketization, the Communist Party of China still keeps the Chinese press firmly on leash by manipulating the distribution of economic and symbolic capital. With four significant newspaper owners overall (News Corp, Fairfax, Seven West Media Limited, and APN News & Media), Australia has one of the most highly concentrated newspaper ownership in the developed world beyond the Party-controlled papers of the communist realm. Despite such a high concentration of press ownership, Australia is known for its belief in and pursuit of media diversity. One basic means to ensure media diversity is to make available to all Australians access to a diversity of media voices in the course of sustaining an effective engagement of people in the democratic discourses. However, while the Chinese press perpetuate the ideology of the government, the Australian press are dominated by the commercial ideology of media proprietors. In other words, to accumulate economic profits in the Chinese press constitutes a significant means to achieve the end of political control of ideology in news production. In contrast, to switch between different political ideologies constitutes a significant means for the Australian press to achieve the end of maximizing economic profits for media proprietors. The research findings are of relevance to a wide range of researchers such as discourse analysts in the field of news discourse and other scholars whose research is relevant to stance/evaluation, or those engaged in corpus-informed studies, along with those in the field journalism and communication.