Every textual and/or visual media analysis requires an understanding of the context. This mindmap can be very helpful in this regard, such as: "Jonathan Hardy assesses different ways of making sense of media convergence and digitalisation, media power and influence, and transformations across communication markets."
A Critical Discourse Analysis of an article on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
With increasing global media synergies, media studies seems to be gaining popularity in academia. One part of this discipline involves the close examination of media texts, be they written, spoken, or symbolic. To analyse texts linguistically, two dimensions are often considered: that of coherence, involving semantics or the construction of meaning, and that of cohesion, or syntax. This analysis can be done through various types of frameworks, including grounded theory, narrative semiotics, conversation analysis, and critical discourse analysis (CDA).
According to Barthes (1994), texts are always multi-dimensional and their meanings are uncovered differently depending on the reader, context and setting. Particularly in the media, they are interconnected to other texts, through means such as quotations, indirect or direct references, photos or historical facts; thus, it could be said that the media produce and reproduce not only texts, but from these, social meaning, which is then further reinforced through subsequent intertextuality (Ibid). Baudrillard (2000) adds that language itself is not necessarily powerful; what makes it more so is its use by powerful people—in today’s society, this being epitomised by the globalised media.
Critical discourse analysis is also sometimes referred to as critical linguistics (Wodak and Busch, 2004). Its roots lie in classical rhetoric, sociolinguistics and applied linguistics, and it is often used to illustrate the relationships that power, hierarchy, race and gender have with language (Fairclough, 1995). CDA is especially used today by academics that regard the discursive unit of a text to be one of the most basic units of communication. In fact, it is so widely used within scholarly environments that its legitimacy as a tool for examining power imbalances has been called into question by some, such as Billing (Wodak and Busch, 2004). He claims that because CDA has become so entrenched in academic discourses, it is thus subject to the same rituals and jargon as institutionalized knowledge, thus negating its potential to demystify the functions and intentions of CDA research. While these points are interesting and worthy of further exploration, the scope of this paper will not allow such examination, and furthermore, the assumptions of this paper are that CDA does, in fact, provide useful tools for critical analysis of media texts.
Thus, this paper will apply CDA to one article by Rory McCarthy in the Guardian newspaper, dated Wednesday, December 12th, 2007. CDA will be employed to illustrate overt and underlying assumptions and beliefs, as well as the construction of social meaning.
Wodak and Busch (2004) claim that all texts can help reproduce and produce unequal relationships in power between men and women, racial groups, social classes, ethnicities, and nations. This can be done through the creation of the Other, which involves the textual representation of a group as being ‘perpetrators and agents’ operating outside the law (Ibid, p. 99). They further claim that after the terrorist attacks of September 11, anti-Islamic prejudices became more pronounced in the media, which characterizes Muslims in anonymous and criminal terms (Ibid). Additionally, ‘strategies of generalization, blaming the victim, and victim-perpetrator reversal are increasingly prominent’ (Ibid, p.100).
Analysing the text in the Guardian, these strategies do indeed seem to be in place. For example, actions attributed to Palestinians in the article often involved negative activities, whereas verbs related to the Israelis were more neutral:
Palestinian actions: firing rockets, accused, complained, fired back, were detained, were reported, appeared to be
Israeli actions: mounted an incursion, said, issue tenders for
It is only when the voice of the article shifts from the writer to a direct quote from a Palestinian official that any harsher activities are attributed to the Israelis: sabotage, place obstacles
The first sentence of the article is also interesting:
Israeli troops in tanks and armoured vehicles mounted an incursion into Gaza yesterday, killing at least six Palestinians….As many as 30 tanks and vehicles were involved in the operation……
Although the facts in the article imply that the Israeli army killed several Palestinians, it is important to note the syntax of the sentence removes direct responsibility from the army and pins it on ‘the incursion’. What is more,