Sunday, September 2, 2012

Birds of Prey

Language is not neutral. The words used by a person determine their attitude and experience. This is done through their ideology, which is expressed through language. Ideology can be considered as a world view, something that reveals attitude and identity about the person that is writing. It can also be perceived as a set of beliefs. For this reason, language is not neutral. It is a system of meanings which is used to represent and express meanings about their worlds. Therefore language is the means through which ideology is articulated, so control through language is possible. Language is a key instrument in propagating ideological framework. The term for this is ‘ideological control,’ something that the media thrives from.

News is altered. The viewers or readers will not receive the news in its purest form. Modifications have been made to the information that is presented. Language is cleverly composed through connotations in order for the media to convey their beliefs. This is why certain stories are foreground and others exaggerated, in order to influence and thrust upon us, a biased ideology. Newspapers can be divisive; they are substantially opinionated due to the editorial freedom that they encompass. Newspapers are local or national, whereas broadcasting is global. They are guaranteed more viewers, if the broadcast is reaching more people; there is a restriction on what can be said. The news is carefully constructed.

The news editors rework stories in order to make them more suitable for the general public. They encompass the power to feature whatever they want and by deciding what to feature, they are assuming what the public values are. They determine what is and should be accepted. The newspapers provide readers with a prejudiced view of the world; certain information is transformed and suppressed. In terms of news that is broadcast on TV, this can be separated into an animator, author and principal. The animator is the reporter you will see on the television screen, the person that is telling the story. The author refers to the person that essentially wrote the story that is being reported. Finally there is the principal, the person whose interests are being represented. This is what most people do not understand. There is always a principal. Somebody’s interests are always being represented through each story.

Ordering of events is significant, along with the layout of the article. Headlines are designed to fixate you; your initial impression will influence your understanding of the article. Therefore the headline is always biased because your interpretation of the headline will manipulate your comprehension of the story. There is a logical relationship. Repetition is used to emphasis the negativity of events, a way for the media to thrust their ideology onto you. The actual event structure is noteworthy. It is not a chronological story, from beginning to end. The main controversial event will open the story and even then, only certain information will be selected and included. Sometimes a circumstance or background is shortened and other information can be eliminated, causing the story to lose its entire meaning.

Positioning of newspapers can also be influential. A newspaper may include a story on the left side of the paper, about a negative event involving asylum seekers, such as an attack where the asylum seeker is the attacker. On the right side of the paper, there may be a separate story about how the number of asylum seekers in the Pakistan is increasing. Of course you will be influenced by what you have just read on the left side of the paper.

Language used to describe events can influence our understanding. Hyperbole is evidentially used in stories, hyperbole meaning exaggeration. Newspapers either construct stories to be extreme or sympathetic. The numbers within stories are also exaggerated or understated. For example when a natural disaster occurs, one newspaper will write ‘more than 1000 have been killed,’ whereas another newspaper will write ‘at least 1000 have been killed.’ The difference between ‘more than’ and ‘at least,’ is significant because one is downplaying the numbers and the other exaggerating. The way in which the media constructs events, influences the way that we perceive the event. Their choice of wording causes the reader to comprehend the event in the way the media intends us to. For example when words such as ‘suggest,’ ‘claim’ or ‘possibility’ are incorporated into stories, they demonstrate uncertainty; these words weaken the story.

The media implies rather than directly addressing something, known as an elocutionary act. The media has not directly referred to Muslims as being terrorists; however it has strongly been made implicit through the use of language and information that has been fore grounded. For example when someone has been arrested on suspicion of committing a terrorist attack, the fact that this person is Muslim will be the first detail that is emphasized. Another example would be how a boy is only referred to as a ‘Young Muslim’ when discussing a trial about terrorism. Without a mention of his name or who he is, his identity is taken away and his voice is silenced. The fact that it is only his religion which is emphasized and fore grounded, demonstrates how the media continue to construct the perception of Muslims being terrorists, strengthening the beliefs that may already be embedded in the mind of the reader. Islam is presented to be depraved regardless of the lack of direct accusations by the media.

The media uses inclusive pronouns such as ‘us’ and ‘them,’ which signifies a boundary between the civil and the savage. The good versus the bad. For example America would be considered as ‘us’ and the terrorists would be considered as ‘them.’ ‘Barbaric’ defines the terrorists pessimistically, whereas the Americans are referred to as being ‘heroic.’ In stories, words such as ‘we’ are used to imply unity, ‘they’ will be referred to with negative connotations. This is especially the case when it comes to writing about asylum seekers. Britain will be written about using words such as ‘our’ and ‘yours’ whereas the asylum seekers are referred to as ‘they.’ They are socially distanced through words. Readers are included within the story by ‘we’ and ‘our.’ There is a technique used which is where positive information about ‘us’ is emphasized, and the negative information about ‘them.’ This is to make ‘us’ sound better and to portray ‘them’ negatively. However the negative information ‘us’ is suppressed, as well as the positive information about ‘them.’ This is in order for ‘us’ to be portrayed positively and for ‘them’ to remain negative. The idea of ‘us’ and ‘them’ have been used for racism purposes, along with metaphors. A study that took place in America demonstrated that the Los Angeles Times likened immigrants to animals without actually referring to them as animals. As they were not specifically being racist, people did not perceive this to be a problem. However something that is common, even amongst people we deal with daily, is apparent denial. This is when they say ‘I’m not racist but…’ and they follow this with a racist remark that can profess their dislike for a particular ethnicity. This can be common in certain newspapers but of course it is always subtle as the media do not directly address anything.

Apart from racism, discrimination against women is common in newspapers. We live in a society that apparently believes in equality, again apparent denial arises. In certain stories, mainly when a woman has been attacked, the attacker can be portrayed in two ways. The first way is by being dehumanized through being referred to as a ‘monster,’ which places the blame of the attack on him. However he could also be referred to with social normality whereby his job and age are given. In this case, he is portrayed as a general person, taking away the blame from him and placing it on the victim. When women are discussed in newspapers, they are referred to by their relationship status, whereas men are referred to by their job and not their home life. News texts are orientated towards a male audience, therefore women are demoted.

There is also the use of an active and passive voice whereby the person in the story is not mentioned specifically by name, to take away the blame from them, or is mentioned to imply blame on that particular individual. The media also have a tendency to attack public figures, pursuing them until a story is found. Newspapers have deadlines; there is always a page that must be filled. Sometimes any story will do, it is the angle they take which will make it interesting, they must construct stories to seem appealing to the reader. Their purpose is to sell more newspapers, not to inform the reader of what is going on in the world. People buy newspapers for different purposes; there is a difference between the audience of the Times and the Sun. Therefore if there are more natural disasters occurring, it does not mean people will buy more newspapers. Most newspapers want to entertain, they want the reader to come back to buy their next paper. They want you to think a certain way.

Now as you read this, you will perceive my own use of ‘us’ and ‘them.’ ‘Us’ being the public and ‘them’ being the media. They are influential, most people are not aware of their power and are brainwashed by everything that they hear and are told. It is up to you to question it. Just like your mother taught you never to listen to gossip, why should you believe everything you are told because it is coming from a more authoritative place? If the Queen began to tell us that the sky is green, would we listen just because she is the Queen? No, because deep down you know the sky is blue. Therefore use your brain and distinguish the truth for yourself. Manipulation does not only involve power, but is an abuse of power and domination. We are being manipulated, and apparently we live in a place of freedom.


  1. Thanks for your lovely comment!! :)

  2. I follow you now and thank you for the compliment :)

  3. very interesting, maybe follow each other?, join me on FB or

  4. Thank you!!! :)
    But i don't make this follow each other. Sorry

  5. Wow! Interesting! I follow you ! I hope you can follow me too :)

  6. You write very well!!

  7. Thanks, I'm following you now! Follow back :)