II: Across languages

Kobie van Krieken, Jose Sanders, Hans Hoeken

Blended viewpoints, mediated witnesses: A cognitive linguistic approach to news narratives

Abstract: This study identifies the linguistic strategies used in news narratives to represent the viewpoints of eyewitnesses to shocking news events and describes how these strategies invite readers to vicariously experience these events as mediated witnesses. A cognitive linguistic model for the analysis of narrative news discourse is developed and then applied to two news narratives of (different) mass shootings (Dutch and American). The analysis shows how verbs of perception and cognition are used to describe the events from the viewpoints of eyewitnesses. To blend the viewpoints of eyewitnesses with the journalist’s viewpoint, Free Indirect Discourse is used in the American narrative whereas present tense narration of cognition and perception is used in the Dutch narrative. The analysis furthermore reveals that reported discourse may serve two different functions in news narratives: (1) a dramatizing function, by accessing a Narrative-Internal Discourse Space which represents what news sources were saying and thinking while the news events took place and (2) a legitimizing function, by accessing a Narrative-External Discourse Space which represents the information exchange between news sources and the journalist after the events took place. The present study thus clarifies the sophisticated relation between the form and function of news narratives.

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