Intertextuality Type 3: Other Sources—News Reports, News Agencies and Other Reports

In 2010, apart from the press releases and external sources mentioned above, there is evidence of use by writers of other sources close to the news-making process, including historical news stories, reports from news agencies, websites, official reports and so on. Some of these sources are explicitly acknowledged, for example:

...Hayward said in the email, obtained by AFP. (Agence France Presse,

27.4.2010)

WSJ [Wall Street Journal]: The BP oil spill could reach land within days.

(2010, Text 1/20)

The first extract credits both Tony Hayward as the writer of the email and the news agency (who wrote the piece) for obtaining it. The second item abstracts information in very short form, directing the reader to the source for further detail. However, in other news items, portions are very likely to have been grounded in previous newspaper reports or other sources, but these remain unacknowledged.

The Nexis UK texts are rich in what Chandler (2007) calls “hypertex- tuality”, a category of intertextuality he proposes to take account of the ability of the Web to refer to other texts through hyperlinks. In the case of the Nexis texts, it is possible to gain additional information on companies with an attached hyperlink from, for example, the New York Stock Exchange. The website of the SEC is referred to in “other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which are available free of charge on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov” (Market News Publishing, 27.4.2010). Other documents are directly or indirectly referred to: there is a presumption of a previous text in the phrase “in a recent strategy update” (Kuwait News Agency [KUNA], 27.4.2010), and “according to data from the Minerals Management Service” (TendersInfo, 27.4.2010). Some of the data items refer to visual texts, such as aerial photographs by NASA (the North American Space Agency) of the oil slick. Transcripts of TV reports make reference to accompanying film footage. Finally there is a reference to an absent text: “No word on when British Petroleum is expected to cap the leaking well” (The Richmond Democrat, 27.4.2010). Poststructuralist analysis proposes that absences as well as presences are significant (see, for example, Sunderland [2006], Wetherell [1998], Oliveira [2004]). Here the absence of the text is flagged; the key piece of information awaited by journalists is unforthcoming. Reference by the writers of the 2010 texts to a rich background of source texts deliberately hints at a complex reality, from which the writer has pieced together a credible narrative on behalf of the reader, using his/her journalistic expertise.

In 2011 a shift begins from news items that report on the BP events to news items that report on the documentation of the events. Various documents related to the events are mentioned and commented upon in the 2011 texts:

  • Documents related to legal processes: “legal red tape”; “lawsuits”; “filing”
  • Political agreements: “moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf”
  • Financial reports and statements: “a new report from Oppenheimer & Co”; “reported Bloomberg”; “Income statements”; “conference call to analysts”; “BP plc reported Wednesday that profits rose”
  • Reports on the explosion and its aftermath: “Coast Guard report”, “Research Initiatives report”

So from 2011 onwards, there is an increasing focus on the ways in which the BP events are reported, analysed and codified into documents or other written texts. These other texts include those related to the legal process to determine responsibility and compensation, the drilling moratorium and official reports on the explosion and oil spill, amongst others. In short, the BP texts are dealing less with events and increasingly with other texts. Even more than interviews and eyewitness reports, this kind of written documentation serves to reify certain versions of events, clarifying areas of confusion or disagreement, and excluding alternative versions. The text examples above are supplemented, particularly in 2012, by a number of intertexts which can be described as artistic and literary.

 
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