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Stance and appraisal in television news presentation : a comparative study of CCTV television news and BBC television news

English Abstract

Objectivity is claimed as an ethical cornerstone of modern journalism, and news practice is not supposed to contain subjective expression. However, the goal of achieving objectivity has usually been subject to evaluation of language in news discourse analysis. Based upon Appraisal Theory, a technique of analysis, this thesis explores the realization of attitude, opinions, or stance, and their variation in the discourse of television news presentations from a comparative perspective. The comparative analysis is based on the examination of five cases with data chosen from two news programs: News Update, broadcast on China Central Television (CCTV), and BBC World News, broadcast on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The findings show that stance is inevitable in the discourse of television news presentations. More specifically: firstly, attitudinal stance varies from one event to another. Secondly, the comparative survey shows that attitudinal stance works differently between CCTV and the BBC (although not perhaps as much as might be expected). These differences may be related to the news sourcing practices of CCTV, as opposed to that of the BBC. Thirdly, the difference in the way stance operates between CCTV and the BBC lies in the intersubjective positioning of the audience realized via attribution in their respective news discourse practices. CCTV seems to make news communication more dialogical by attributing news propositions to external sources, whereas the BBC tends to aver news propositions. In this sense, CCTV seems to be more detached from the news propositions, conferring objectivity by using quotations or citations from other sources. Conversely, the BBC is comparatively attached to an authorial voice in news delivery and stands to be monologic, averring news information as if from an authoritative source. Finally, the representation of action involved in news events is a further variable for the iv operation of stance. In terms of the assignment of the roles of agency versus affectedness of an activity, the examination of four themed discourses (i.e., ‘the discourse of casualty’, ‘the discourse of austerity’, ‘the discourse of suspects’, and ‘the discourse of distant suffering’) shows cultural variations in the attitude to the activity respectively represented in the four themed discourses between CCTV and the BBC. In particular, stance works differently in the respect of semantic prosody of the participants, agentless action (e.g., adjunct use of kill vs. predicate use of kill), and (over) representation of the social roles of the actors involved in an activity.

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Zhu, Hong Qiang


Faculty of Arts and Humanities


Department of English




Television broadcasting of news -- China

Television broadcasting of news -- Great Britain

Discourse analysis

Mass media and language -- China

Mass media and language -- Great Britain


Montgomery, Martin

Chan Hok Shing Brian

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