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Ordination by media?: analysis of news texts constructing the debate over women's ordination to the priesthood in the Anglican Church of Australia in four daily newspapers, 1987-1992

posted on 2022-03-29, 03:23 authored by Judith Rose Bartholomeusz
Over 200 news texts that construct the debate over the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Anglican Church of Australia are analysed. Attention is drawn to modal and modal-like constructions of credibility for news actors in verbal text and in photographs. Focus is placed also on the construction of affective mental processes and emotion, producing social affinity between reader-viewer and represented participant. This approach follows Kress and van Leeuwen, who combine social semiotics and functional linguistics, and propose a 'grammar' of visual images. -- Attention is paid also to the contributing discourses to the ordination debate, both theological and feminist. It is demonstrated that the press disguised a complex discursive reality with many competing meanings between theological traditions and between feminisms. It is argued that the press have constructed the debate in 'the social'. Within 'the social' three 'discourses' are recognised: democratic-legislative; progress (reflecting Enlightenment thought); and unity, the latter two being measured against the former. It is argued that press evaluation has produced a 'mediated theological orthodoxy' in 'the social'. -- It is concluded that credibility evaluations must be viewed in the light of the structuring characteristics of news discourse reflecting the market orientation of the industry. 'Ordination by media' points to an implicit ideological predisposition, but not a conscious press commitment to women's ordination.


Alternative Title

Analysis of news texts constructing the debate over women's ordination to the priesthood in the Anglican Church of Australia in four daily newspapers, 1987-1992

Table of Contents

Part 1. Theoretical background -- News reports and modality -- News photographs -- Discursive mediation of the women's ordination debate -- News structuring discourse -- Conclusion: Ordination by media? -- pt. 2. Selected news reports -- Appendix: Analysis of samples of verbal texts.


March 1995 Bibliography: part 1, p. 398-409

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis masters research


Thesis (MA (Hons)), Macquarie University, School of English, Linguistics and Media

Department, Centre or School

School of English, Linguistics and Media

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Theo Van Leeuwen

Additional Supervisor 1

Philip Bell


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Judith Rose Bartholomeusz 1996. This thesis was digitised for the purposes of Document Delivery. Macquarie University ResearchOnline attempted to locate the author but where this has not been possible; we are making available, open access, selected parts of the thesis which may be used for the purposes of private research and study. If you have any enquiries or issues regarding this work being made available please contact Macquarie University ResearchOnline - If you wish to access the complete thesis, on receipt of a Document Supply Request, placed with Macquarie University Library by another library, we will consider supplying a copy of this thesis. For more information on Document Supply, please contact






2 parts (409, [218] p.) ill

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mq:20491 1674053

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