What I’m Reading: The Language of News Media

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I am currently studying Religion in Peace and Conflict Studies at Uppsala University. As part of the literature course, our professor has asked us to write a bibliographical review of sources that we may use for our thesis. I have chosen to write my thesis on media and its effect on immigration policy. Therefore, I will be reviewing articles and books that focus mostly on the refugee crisis sparked in part by the Arab Spring movement in 2011.

Allan Bell’s book The Language of News Media was published in 1991, which means that it does not cover the explosion of the Internet, but the language used by news media actually has not changed much since the 1990s, so this book is still valuable. Media is organised in many different ways depends on type of media, but there are some similarities, such as the editors and journalists who generate and modify language (Bell 1991).

One spot that has weakened with the advent of the internet is something Bell calls disjunction and isolation (1991). Since news can be accessed anywhere with a decent digital signal, the audience can be both local and world-wide, and news can be accessed almost instantaneously.

Most helpfully, Bell writes about how news media manipulates time and location (1991). This is especially true in regards to the advent of ‘fake news’, where so-called bad actors use old pictures, or take video or audio out of context, or even completely edit video and images to prove some other point.

Media has become a globalised commodity and Bell’s explanation of how the traditional news media is structured is helpful, if outmoded. However, the language he describes is still used, even if it’s at an accelerated pace.

photo: Matthew Galbraith 

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