How is the real world 'constructed in discourse', and how does the construction of the "real world" differ according to differing news styles and different media?

Essay by hollygolightly November 2005

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Discourse has been defined as a social practice within institutions, in terms of news discourse, there has been much contention over whether the framing, selecting and choice of idiosyncratic language within different news media reflects reality, or whether it constructs it. This assignment will look at critical and theoretical discussion over this. Newspapers will be used to show how reality is constructed, also looking at critical discourse analysis with a tabloid and a broadsheet paper. There will also be a brief discussion on how television news, radio and documentaries construct reality.

News discourse constructs the "real world" in so far as they relate to us true-life incidents and people beyond our own experiences. News journalists have always claimed objectivity, presenting 'truthful discourse' journalists ask us to acknowledge that reports are as close to the truth as to show their worthiness as impartial reporters with integrity , this persuades us to view the news as 'reflections of reality' .

However, the contention which surrounds this is that language is never neutral, therefore news can never be objective. Wayne shows this view in 'Knowledge, Norms and Social Interests: Dilemmas for Documentary' which states that 'the belief in the possible objectivity of the subject...dominates the mainstream' . Where a direct relationship between object and representation is valued, subjectivity distorts this objectivity, and the distortion comes through ideology, which is important in news as the text is produced for an audience with a cultural background written by those with cultural assumptions, "reality" is therefore mediated through representations. As Michael Schudson argues, 'news is not a mirror of reality . It is a representation of the world, and all representations are selective'. Thus, any news that we receive from the media has been selected and framed, although Schudson also stresses that this is not due...