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The Language of News Media

Allan Bell

ISBN: 978-0-631-16435-7 August 1991 Wiley-Blackwell 296 Pages


Written by a linguist who is himself a journalist, this is a uniquely informed account of the language of the news media. Based in the frameworks of sociolinguistics and discourse analysis its concerns are with the notion of the news story, the importance of the processes which produce media language and the role of the audience.
List of Figures and Tables.

Editor's Preface.

Introduction and Acknowledgements.

1. Media and Language.

1.1. Why Study Media Language?.

1.2. Media Language Research and the disciplines.

1.3. Themes of the book.

2. Researching Media Language.

2.1. Universe and sample.

2.2. What's news: defining genres.

2.3. News outlets.

2.4. News outputs.

2.5. Pitfalls, shortcuts and the wrong way round.

2.6. The media react to research.

3. The Production of News Language.

3.1. Many hands make tight work.

3.2. Producer roles in news language.

3.3. The news assembly line.

3.4. Embedding in the news text.

4. Authoring and Editing the News Text.

4.1. Constructing the news text.

4.2. How news is edited.

4.3. Why edit?.

5. The Audience for Media Language.

5.1. Disjunction and isolation.

5.2. Multiple roles in the audience.

5.3. Audience embedding.

5.4. Communications as audience.

6. Stylin' the News: Audience Design.

6.1. Style in language.

6.2. Style and audience status in the British press.

6.3. Audience design in New Zealand radio.

6.4. Editing copy for style.

7. Talking Strange: Referee Design in Media Language.

7.1. Taking the initiative.

7.2. The referees.

7.3. Television advertisements as referee design.

8. Telling Stories.

8.1. News stories and personal narratives.

8.2. News values.

8.3. News as stories.

8.4. The structure of news stories.

9. Makeup of the News Story.

9.1. The lead.

9.2. Headlines.

9.3. News stories and actors.

9.4. Time and place in the news.

9.5. Facts and figures.

9.6. Talking heads.

10. Telling It Like It Isn't.

10.1. Approaches to media miscommunication.

10.2. Misreporting: the climate case change.

10.3. Misediting international news.

11. (Mis)understanding the News.

11.1. Recall and comprehension.

11.2. The public misunderstand climate change.




  • First introduction to the language of the news media
  • Author is both a journalist and a linguist - draws on first hand experience and observations as well as on research
  • Wide range of international examples.