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News as institutional discourse : discourse structure and practice in BBC TV and CCTV news programmes

English Abstract

Drawing upon Montgomery’s discourse structure of broadcast news, this study examines discourse structures, discourse practices, and their orientation to institutional identities in television news programmes. It draws upon a corpus of news bulletins collected from BBC News at Ten and CCTV’s News Simulcast that went on the air in 2011, 2012 and 2013. According to Montgomery, a broadcast news programme consists of overall and specific discourse structures that underlie the formation of news presentation, news reports and news interviews. This study builds up the analytical framework by integrating analytical methods evolved from Critical Discourse Analysis, Conversation Analysis and Multimodal Discourse Analysis into Montgomery’s discourse structure of broadcast news. Specifically, it applies Conversation Analysis to examine discourse actions, structures and practices in news presentation, and the turn-taking practices, sequential organisations and turn designs in news interviews. It applies Multimodal Discourse Analysis to analyse visual and verbal reference patterns and their implications in news reports. Moreover, it applies Critical Discourse Analysis to examine the potential ideological meanings constructed in news headlines and news kernels. The analysis shows that BBC News at Ten and CCTV’s News Simulcast differ substantially in terms of discourse structure and discourse practice. As for BBC news, it is (1) broadcast not only through studio-based presentation, such as on-camera addresses or voice-overs, but also with various field-based reports such as soundbites, stand uppers and interview fragments, (2) its news is designed to be newsworthy, audience-engaging and neutral (or journalistically neutralistic), and (3) the discourse of vii news appears conversational, informal and interactional. By contrast, CCTV news is (1) broadcast mainly through studio-based presentation rather than field-based reports or news interviews, (2) its news is designed primarily to set agendas, educate the public and speak for the government, and (3) the discourse of news appears scripted, authoritative and monologic. These differences reflect different institutional identities and roles between the two programmes. BBC news is oriented to a public service broadcasting identity and performs a public service role, whereas CCTV news accommodates itself to a political apparatus identity and often plays a propaganda role.

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Feng, De Bing


Faculty of Arts and Humanities


Department of English




Television broadcasting of news -- China

Television broadcasting of news -- Great Britain

Discourse analysis


Montgomery, Martin

Chan Hok Shing Brian

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