Media Discourse Analysis of News Reports in Lebanese Newspapers
Layla Youssef Itani and Rima Bahous*
Department of Education, School of Arts and Sciences, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon
- *Corresponding Author:
- Rima Bahous
Department of Education
School of Arts and Sciences, Lebanese American University
Received date: February 03, 2019 Accepted date: February 17, 2019 Published date: February 24, 2019
Citation: Itani LY, Bahous R. Media Discourse Analysis of News Reports in Lebanese Newspapers. Global Media Journal 2019, 17:32.
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Politics has proven to be a linguistic activity that utilizes language to mold people’s beliefs. This study explores of the language of politics in two Lebanese newspapers - As-Safir and The Daily Star. Three different frameworks were chosen to carry out a critical discourse analysis. The frameworks used are that of Michael Halliday, Teun van Dijk, and Norman Fairclough. Findings show that the language of politics is never an impartial and objective one. It is structured in a way that supports respective political beliefs and sustains respective ideologies; hence, shaping the readers’ thoughts into believing that the “enemy” is hateful. Nonetheless, future research could develop instruments that aim at analyzing the perceptions of the vast audiences to further objectify the act of critical discourse analysis.
Ideology; Critical discourse analysis; Positive-self representation; Negativeother
representation; Field; Tenor; Mode; Transitivity; Nominalization; Modality;
Classification; Politics; Media; News; Language; Discourse
Politics has been a key area of study, widely debatable with
different points of view and, in most cases, a far-fetched
consensus. Politicians market their ideas to the public using
language. Consequently, language lies at the core of political acts.
Without it, politics would lose its power to prompt consequences
. Being a linguistic activity, politics promotes certain ideologies
over others. Chilton and Schaffner  stated:
• Politics cannot be conducted without language,… the use of
language in the constitution of social groups leads to what we
would call ‘politics’; in a broad sense (p.303).
• Media has played a decisive role in delivering political information.
It has manipulated the power of language to convey only what
needs to be conveyed and not what should be conveyed.
• Fairclough, et al.  criticized how politicians with the help of
media have easy access to large number of people, using strategic
political language as a crucial stairway to success.
• This study was designed as a wake-up call for stakeholders to
fully understand the power of language, responsible for molding
their thoughts about the different events.
• The research involved two Lebanese newspapers; four articles
from each were extracted through their online platforms. Indepth
text analysis was carried. This study is an exploration of the
language of politics in Lebanese newspapers. It aims at answering
the following questions:
• How do the media use linguistic reconceptualization to cover
different reports about the war on Syria? How do those linguistic
devices reinforce ideologies represented by the media outlets?
Ideology is composed of shared ideas belonging to a certain
group or community . These ideas shape the group’s
perception of social events, situations, and discourse. Ideologies
are characterized as “belief systems”. They are a polarization
between “US” as an in-group and “THEM” as an out-group .
Critical discourse analysis (CDA)
CDA explores the relationship between the actual text and the
social and cultural contexts . It implies that language is subject
to ideological effects controlled by power.
Since language structures reality and its perception, Locke 
iterates that discourse involves powerful relations. He explains
how powerful discourse reinforces self-esteem in readers.
Conversely, “non-powerful” discourse disempowers readers
placing them at an inferior stance.
“CDA is concerned with the ways in which the power relations
produced by discourse are maintained and/or challenged through
texts and the practices which affect their production, reception,
and dissemination” .
To maintain or challenge such power, writers use subtle ways
to reinforce their respectful ideologies. Those ways include
subliminal messages, which lie at the core of written texts. To
uncover those messages, one needs to carry out the act of CDA.
Fairclough et al.  support Locke’s notion of CDA. Discourse
becomes a social practice composed of a dialectal relationship
between the text and other social elements that shape discourse.
Discourses are powerful tools to produce imbalanced power
relations leading to major ideological effects.
News and Language
Reah  maintains that events happen daily in the world and
cannot actually be covered in daily newspapers. She argues that
readers are exposed to selected news reports that have certain
ideological aspects. The news provided is specific; its specificity
is ideologically related. News editors aim to guide the readers to
certain ideological standpoints . “It is easy to resist a particular
viewpoint or ideology when you know it is being presented to
you, but not so easy to resist when the viewpoint or ideology is
Fowler  says that “news is a representation of the world
in language… it is not a value-free reflection of facts” (p.4).
Fowler  explains how language is not a “clear window”; it is
a “refracting” medium. News, becomes a creation. It is created
through journalistic and publishing processes.
Methods of Analyzing Discourse
A widely used framework for analyzing discourse is that of Halliday
 “Systemic Functional Linguistic”. This approach explores how
people utilize the power of language to reach goals in different
contexts. Halliday distinguished between three aspects of context
that affect language called features of the context: field, tenor,
and mode. Field focuses on the topic or action that the language is
portraying. It involves processes, participants, and circumstances.
Tenor incorporates participants in a given situation. It talks
about participants’ statuses, roles, and relationships. Mode
deals with how the text is portrayed; the channel through which
communication is being put through.
Van Dijk’s methods rely on cognitive processes to explain how
discourse functions in ideology, racism, and knowledge . Van
Dijk  asserts that our discourse use expresses our ideologically
based opinions. Consequently, analyzing discourse requires that
we pay attention to certain properties of discourse use that
clearly depict the ideological orientation . Van Dijk  modified
four general principles to simplify the process of analyzing and
detecting subtle messages in political texts. Van Dijk  classifies
these principles in “the ideological square” (p. 396) as follows:
• Emphasize Our good things - Emphasize Their bad things
• De-emphasize Our bad things - De-emphasize Their good things
Van Dijk  listed diverse structures and strategies.
• Topics: The topic chosen describes the out-group as a threat to
• Level of description and degree of completeness: Describing
the out-group’s negative actions, the language used would be
detailed whereas the in-group’s would be less detailed;
• Denomination: Using labeling to differentiate groups;
• Agency: Holding the out-group responsible for negative actions;
• Focus: Giving special focus to different aspects of the text;
• Syntactic structures of sentences: Using active and passive
sentences to determine degree of involvement of agent;
• Actor description: Descriptions of actors that might emphasize/
de-emphasize positive characteristics and/or negative ones;
• Disclaimer: Beginning of discourse might deny adverse feelings
about a specific group; however the next part may be full of
negative things about others;
• Dramatization: Exaggeration of facts in favor of one’s interests;
• Evidentiality: Presenting proof to the arguments being made to
strengthen their ethos;
• National self-glorification: Praise of oneself;
• Victimization: Acting as the victim.
Fairclough  adopts a dialectical-relational version of CDA
between language and society. Language shapes and is shaped
by society. Fairclough’s  model consists of three interrelated
processes of analysis:
• Text analysis is concerned with the object under investigation
Description of the properties of a text such as lexis and syntax
occurs. Transitivity points out material processes, mental processes,
relational processes, and verbal processes. Nominalization is the
process of turning a verb or an adjective into a noun weakening
the action and reducing bias (Zhang 2014). Classification is a
process whereby journalists use naming and labeling. Modality is
the mode in which the news reporter expresses his/her attitudes
towards the story written. High affinity words such as the word
“would” could depict how the writer entrusts a certain stance,
whereas the use of words of low affinity such as “seem” might
imply to the readers a negative notion.
•Processing analysis is concerned with the interpretation the
texts by people. A relationship between the text and interaction
with text is established.
• Social analysis is mainly concerned with an explanation of
the socio-historical conditions of a text. It bridges media with
History of Newspapers in Lebanon
The oldest means of communicating news in Lebanon’s media
sector is print media. Newspapers were first introduced in 1610
and created by a group of Maronite priests . There are
fourteen political newspapers published daily. The two most
popular newspapers are As-Safir and An-Nahar. As-Safir issues
50,000 daily copies, whereas An-Nahar issues 45,000 .
Media in Lebanon
Lebanon is divided along several political parties that form
two alliances: a Saudi-backed pro-western alliance and an
Iranian-backed anti-western one . This division affects all
other aspects of Lebanon and its government including media.
According to Dabbous , Lebanon’s press is relatively a free
one with respect to the Arab World. She states: “Lebanese media
tend to be owned or supported by political personalities as well
as parties and do not criticize or harm the hand that feeds them”
(p.721). Newspapers in Lebanon are established with a clear
ideological and political stance . Accepting bribes is regarded
as a normal act. Bribes either cover or uncover certain issues that
deem to be of value .
Newspaper ownership, affiliations, division of shares, political
stances are not public information. Uncovering media ownership
information in Lebanon is intentionally made difficult.
• This study is exploratory in nature. It aims at analyzing the
discourse of news reports. It is a qualitative research that follows
a naturalistic approach.
• The study took into account two opposing newspapers, As-
Safir and The Daily Star, from different political sectors. Four
articles about the same topic were extracted electronically from
each newspaper’s website and an in-depth discourse analysis
was conducted. The newspapers have been selected based on
whether or not they offer English reports and articles.
• As-Safir is a daily, political, and Arab newspaper founded by
the journalist Talal Salman. It was first issued in March 26, 1974.
The Daily Star was founded over 60 years ago in 1952 by Kamel
Mroue. Mroue’s vision is to introduce the Arab region to non-
• All articles or reports discuss the war in Syria.
The articles chosen are the following:
Al Safir newspaper
• Aleppo’s Bloody June
• Zabadani battle rages on
• Aleppo's battle rages on
• Syrian Army, Hezbollah advance in Zabadani
Daily Star newspaper
• Bomb, rockets kill 19 civilians in Syria’s Aleppo: activists
• Hezbollah, Syrian army seize main entrance to Zabadani: Al-
• Iran deal may make region more dangerous: Saudi official
CDA was used to analyze the articles. The focus was placed on
content and language. Although this qualitative analysis may
sound theoretical, it was made concrete through the utilization
of three different frameworks of prominent figures in the field.
Article 1: In field, the author communicates how Aleppo has
witnessed one of its worst months since the start of the crisis–
hence the title ‘bloody June’. The two main participants are
Jabhat al Nusra and the Syrian Army. The processes taking place
are related to fighting battles and attempts to take lead in battles.
The circumstances depict the situation that the two participants
are in and the brutality of the bombings. Tenor portrays how there
was unequal power between participants, primarily because
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar are backing Jabhat al Nusra. Also,
Jabhat al Nusra has US-made missiles which render the idea that
probably this movement is being backed up by the US. However,
the Syrian Army is containing the attack to hit back. Although
Jabhat al Nusra was backed, the Syrian Army was able to fight
back. The participants were in direct contact and were involved in
a war zone. For mode, this text is a written, not improvised, text.
Article 2: For field, the article discusses the battles happening
in Zabadani and how the Syrian Army alongside Hezbollah are
advancing and taking. The processes used are verbs that signal
conquering and successfully taking over Zabadani. The author mainly
talks about the Zabadani state and the events happening in this area.
The participants are Hezbollah and the Syrian Army opposing the
militants. Circumstances illustrate the battles happening in Zabadani,
some information about it, and the measurement of success by
the two allies. For tenor, the opposing teams are of unequal power
because the author iterates Hezbollah and the Syrian Army’s
successful endeavors in fighting against the ‘takfiri’ factions. The
participants are in direct contact as they take on a fight. The mode of
the text is a written and deliberately planned one.
Article 3: The author conveys the clashes in and around Aleppo
between the different forces. Different anti-regime groups, not
allies though, have been carrying out these battles, and the
Syrian army is setting up ambushes and plans to fight back. The
processes included illustrate the happenings. The circumstances
picture a hopeless situation where the efforts and attempts of
the anti-regime groups go to no avail every time. In tenor, the
participants are the Syrian army and the different anti-regime
groups. Because of their failed attempts to take over any area, the
author depicts the Syrian army as having more power than the
other groups because the Syrian army fights back and establishes
an efficacious breakout. Consequently, the participants are in a
direct interaction. As for mode, this text is a written one.
Article 4: In field, the article discusses Hezbollah’s and the Syrian
Army’s advance in Zabadani. So, Hezbollah and the Syrian Army
have achieved a ‘strategic progress’ in Zabadani. The processes
used are words such advanced and blocking entrance. The
participants involved are Hezbollah and the Syrian Army against
the Islamic State militants. The circumstances render the
achievement that the allies have accomplished and their careful
study of plans. As for tenor, the title portrays an unequal power.
It highlights how the Syrian Army and Hezbollah are ahead. All
those participants are in direct contact and are a huge part of the
crisis in Syria. This article is extracted from a newspaper, i.e., a
written and planned text.
Article 5: In field, the article provides the readers with information
about the victims of the Syrian war mentioning that both the
Syrian regime and the rebels are held responsible for the attacks.
The processes used are related to killing and attacking. The
participants are the Syrian regime, the rebels as identified by the
author, and the victims who are being killed due to the attacks.
The circumstances further explain how and when those victims
were killed. As for tenor, it is obvious that the participants are of
unequal power. The Syrian regime and the rebels possess more
power than the civilians. Although the civilians are not involved
in the war, they are not initiating battles or fights; they are in
direct contact with the other participants who have a conflict of
interest. For mode, this article has undergone the processes of
revising and editing before publishing.
Article 6: The field of the article informs the readers that Hezbollah
and the Syrian army has overtaken the main entrance to Zabadani.
It illustrates scenes of those allies firing rockets, using gunfire, and
throwing grenades on residential areas. The processes included
are verbs such as swarming, firing, and trapped. The participants
are Hezbollah and the Syrian army as allies and the rebels. The
circumstances depict the situation Zabadani is in especially
through describing the footage that was released; it shows
how Hezbollah fighters are attacking the city. The tenor shows
Hezbollah and the Syrian army as main participants possessing
the power. Although the rebels were mentioned, they didn’t play
an active role. They were trapped and besieged. The participants
are in direct contact due to their involvement in the war. This
article is prudently designed.
Article 7: The field of the article discusses how Iran’s nuclear
deal is a good idea if it stops the country from gaining additional
weapons. However, the deal would be a bad idea if it spreads
destruction. A process used to describe this destruction is the
use of the verb destabilize. The main participants are Iran and its
nuclear deal. There are no specific circumstances that depict the
destabilization if Iran decides to spread havoc. The tenor shows that Iran possesses a greater power than other countries in the
Middle East because of the nuclear program. Iran is involved in
this program and will be in direct contact with the region if it
decides to inflict disorder. This article is planned beforehand.
Article 8: The field describes how Hezbollah has pushed deeper
into Zabadani and how it took over the city with the Syrian army.
It discusses some of the battles that have happened with a count
of the number of people killed. The processes utilized are verbs
such as pushed deeper, tightening the noose, besieged, and fire.
The participants are the Hezbollah, the Syrian army, and the
rebels. Although Hezbollah is pushing deeper into the city of
Zabadani, there are not circumstances that depict the situation
as an achievement for Hezbollah. The tenor portrays Hezbollah
and the Syrian army having more power than the rebels. The
participants are in direct contact due to their involvement in the
war. This is a newspaper article carefully written.
Van Dijk’s framework
Van Dijk’s framework is described in Tables 1-8.
Table 1: Article 1.
||However, the army forces contained the attack and hit back
||Jihadist and extremist factions
||A military source confirmed that the Syrian army and the supporting factions have deterred attacks and contained the situation.
||Syntactic structure of sentences
||Jihadist and extremist factions have launched rocket attacks, mostly reaching the government-controlled neighborhoods
|Level of Description and degree of completeness
||Syrian army and the supporting factions have deterred the attacks and contained the situation. Syrian air forces have intensified airstrikes on the missiles launching locations toward the city, managing to destroy several bases. Syrian army has reinforced its presence on several contact points and sent reinforcements to different axes.
||A pro-opposition told As-Safir that the armed factions began to unite… The countries supporting the factions, namely Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia started to send weapons and equipment needed…
||Level of Description and degree of completeness
||Urgent orders made to the factions affiliated with the Aleppo Conquest Operation Room… Jabhat-al-Nusra-affiliated factions moved closer to the contact points… The Aleppo Conquest Operations Room launched a few violent attacks on al-Rashidin axes…
Table 2: Article 2.
||the push by Syrian army units and Hezbollah forces… was deeper than anticipated, leading so far to losses that were lower than expected
||armed factions that threaten Damascus, Beirut and beyond
|the city falls under total suppressive control
|(Syrian army)… following their successful breakthrough
|Syntactic structure of sentences
||Dozens of terrorists had been killed or wounded in the attack
||armed and takfiri factions
||According to battlefield sources
||Dramatization + agency
||(gunmen) not only greatly contributed to threating the Syrian capital, but also the Lebanese border strip, as well as the vital international highway that links the two countries
|Reminiscing about the battle fought, in 1982
||… put an end to extortion practiced by insurgents who cut off the water supply of Damascus residents
|Displacement of its 50,000 residents to neighboring areas
Table 3: Article 3.
||Syrian army forces and supporting factions continued with their advance… announcing full control over the eastern Nashwa neighborhood… this is in addition to advancements…
||Huge defeat befell Fateh Halab
|Syrian army continues to fortify the shield around Aleppo through mobilizing reinforcements
|The forces were capable of absorbing the attack and achieving victory in direct confrontations, despite the fact that the enemy used heat-seeking missiles
|Syrian army imposed control on four new villages
||Syrian army set up an ambush for armed fighters
||Ansar al-Sharia, led by Jabhat al-Nusra, failed to achieve an infiltration
||The ambush set up by the Syrian army was of high impact, lifting the already-high morale of the Syrian army and discouraging the enemy who thought that Aleppo was up for grabs.
||Although Ansar al-Sharia did not announce the failure or dissolution of its command center, a field source believes that the fate of the center, as for its predecessors, was a failure.
|Syntactic structure of sentence
||During clashes, different weaponry was used and a tunnel was blown up.
Table 4: Article 4.
||Syrian army, Hezbollah advance in Zabadani
||achieved strategic progress
||State of confusion that plagues the armed group
|Pushed IS (Islamic State) to expand its engagement circle in a bid to find a way to relieve the pressure that it is facing
||A military source told the Syrian News Agency
||Syntactic Structures of Sentences
||Source said that militants launched a violent attack in an attempt to control the hill.
|The Facebook page of Harbi Press
||Syrian army is slowly progressing
||Level of description and degree of completeness
||After controlling the Althias village, IS gunmen set Grad missile launchers and targeted the fourth station housing as they tried to target the T4 airport before warplanes launched a series of airstrikes on the airport perimeter. These also targeted rocket launchers then launched a small military operation to restore the village and further fortify the airport perimeter.
|Syntactic structures of sentences
||He (Hammoud al-Hardan – one of the top commanders in IS) was killed in the battle of Hasakah.
||The organization is attacking the airport perimeter to alleviate pressure on Palmyra, although it is well aware it cannot break through to the airport
|30 fighters affliated with Jaish al-Fatah, led by Jabhat al-Nusra, were killed in an attempt to control the strategic Khattab hill.
Table 5: Article 5.
||Bomb, rockets kill 19 civilians in Syria
||19 civilians, including five children were killed
||… came in the barrel bomb strike on a rebel-held district
|Fifteen of the dead, among them four of the children
|The children were under the age of 10
|A pregnant woman was also among Wednesday’s dead
|As residents were sitting down at the iftar meal
|Syntactic structures of sentences and agency
||The conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011 that were met with a bloody crackdown.
Table 6: Article 6.
||Hezbollah fighters firing rocket-propelled grenades and automotive weapons from inside and on top of residential buildings
||Hezbollah, Syrian army seize main entrance to Zabadani
|Rebels had been trapped and their escape routes have been cut off
||Al-Manar reported – the Hezbollah-run station
|Syntactic structures of a sentence
||At least 16 Syrian army soldiers and 200 militants have been killed in the battle
||Footage also showed Hezbollah fighters swarming an area of the city with the sound of heavy gunfire in the background.
Table 7: Article 7.
||Iran deal may make region more dangerous
|Iran had destabilized the whole Middle East through its activities in Iraq, Syrian, Lebanon, and Yemen
||If the deal allowed it concessions, the region would become more dangerous
||Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers will mean “a happy day” if it stops the country from gaining a nuclear arsenal, but the agreement would prove bad if it allowed Tehran to “wreak havoc in the region”
Table 8: Article 8.
||Hezbollah tightens the noose in Zabadani
||Rebel fighter succumbed to his wounds
||Syntactic structures of sentences and actor description
||Allied forces destroyed a militant convoy using rocket fire in the Al-Zahra neighborhood.
|43 rebels had surrendered, according to the source, with a further nine surrendering Tuesday.
||The attack killed all passengers on the vehicle.
||The allied forces issued an ultimatum to Syrian rebels over the weekend to either surrender or die.
||The Syrian Observatory’s Report
||Add to Hezbollah’s recent victories in Lebanon’s eastern mountain range
Articles 1 to 4: Fairclough , and according to the descriptors
chosen by Zhang , has divided his text analysis into four parts.
As-Safir reports mainly covered material processes that are the
processes of doing. A lot of examples were drawn for this type of
process such as:
• The city falls under total suppressive control (Article 2);
• Gave militants the ability to disrupt the Damascus highway
• Syrian army continues to fortify the shield around Aleppo
• The Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters yesterday achieved
strategic progress in the city of Zabadani (Article 4).
Mental processes, relational processes, and verbal processes
weren’t that evident. Verbal processes were only used to
relay different information that was said by a certain source.
Nominalization was present throughout the different news reports
and the most patent example was the use of the word “control”
and “attack”. Classification was evident throughout the articles.
Authors used naming to relay certain attitudes about the antiregime
movement. Some of those name-callings were: terrorists,
takfiri factions, insurgents, jihadi extremists, and militants. While
labeling the pro-regime movements, the authors used names such as fighters, army forces, and the allies. In modality, authors
have used high-affinity words, especially the word “would” to
describe the importance of what the Syrian army and Hezbollah
are doing in terms of advancements and successes and to describe
the effects of what the anti-regime factions are doing in terms of
destruction. Some examples of those include Syrian army’s total
control over the city of Zabadani would mean the total collapse
of the supply route used by insurgents (Zabadani battle rages on)
and Jabhat al-Nusra had dragged itself into a dilemma in Aleppo,
as the city would constitute a turning point for the worse for the al-Qaeda-affiliated organization, drunk on its victories in Idlib
(Aleppo’s battle rages on)
For processing analysis, the authors tailored how the subject was portrayed using certain methods. Those methods entail
certain quotations from different sources that did not act as
proving ethos. The decision was made to quote certain military sources guided by the pro-regime group; they also quoted
‘knowledgeable’ sources about the battlefield, the Syrian Arab
News Agency (SANA), and field sources. Although the abovementioned
sources are all pro-regime, the authors did manage
to include some that are actually anti-regime. They have done so
by labeling those sources as ‘pro-opposition sources’ which gave
a negative outlook on the situation.
In social analysis, according to Trombetta’s article in the European
Journalism Centre, the Shiite Muslim owner of As-Safir is a high
advocate of the Hezbollah-led resistance against Israel and the
US. Those facts depicted that As-Safir sides with the pro-regime
Articles 5 to 8: The most evident process is related to the material
between the participants where a certain stance is inflicting an
action on the other. Some of those examples include:
• The crude explosive-filled container hit a building (Article 5)
• 19 civilians, including five children, were killed by a Syrian
regime barrel bomb (Article 5)
• Showed Hezbollah fighters firing rocket-propelled grenades
• The rebels had been trapped inside Zabadani (Article 6)
Different examples emerge out of this process. The other
three processes were not that transparent throughout the
text. Nominalization was not evident. In classification the Daily
Star chose to label the anti-regime sanctions as rebels or rebel
fighters. The labeling for the advocates of the Syrian regime were described as troops or their standard names. Modality was not
In processing analysis, the Daily Star chose to quote different
sources that portrayed the events. In one of the articles, the
author decided to quote Al-Manar, a Hezbollah-run station. In the
other articles, they quoted Saudi officials, activists, and the Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group.
As for the social analysis, the Daily Star was sold to news investors
in 2010 who were affiliated to the Hariri Group. “This may be
partly due to the Daily Star’s original tone which leaned towards
the March 14 Alliance, but also because the acquisition has been
too recent to produce any tangible outcomes” .
However, in social analysis, other updated information about
newspaper ownership might not have been put into the public
Unequal power was evident throughout the eight articles. The
newspapers agree with the happenings in Syria. The fields
discussed are the battles occurring around Syria: namely,
Zabadani and Aleppo. The processes include a war-related jargon
with heavy emphasis on killings and battle techniques. As for
tenor, in As-Safir, the participants were always divided into two
parties. One incorporated the Syrian Army as either standalone
fighters or as the Syrian Army alongside Hezbollah. The other was
constituted of the ‘takfiri’ factions, anti-regime groups, Islamic State, and Jabhat al-Nusra. Those anti-regime groups seemed to
be of less power than that of the Syrian Army and Hezbollah. The
authors clearly depicted this inequality of powers through their
choice of words and processes. As-Safir seems to be siding with
those of more power against those of less power.
The Daily Star also depicted unequal power relations. However,
in this newspaper, the parties were different. There were no
specific, targeted parties throughout the four articles. Even when
Hezbollah and the Syrian Army conveyed more power than the
‘rebels,’ in “Hezbollah tightens the noose on Zabadani,” there
was no noted achievement that the allies have accomplished
unlike the articles in As-Safir, where the allies’ endeavors were
constantly described as successful advancements. Although
there is depiction of power relations in the Daily Star where proregime
group have more power than other anti-regime groups,
the manifestation was not as clear and evident as those in the As-
Safir. This does not condemn that the Daily Star is with or against
the pro-regime group.
As for the mode, all eight articles are carefully written and
planned being newspaper articles. They underwent publication
processes for achieving a careful, precise selection. Busa 
explains how the processes of publishing are actually based on
the partnership and cooperation of different stakeholders in a
Fairclough et al.  have established that discourse incorporates
power relations that are in accordance with the underpinning
ideology that the newspaper reinforces. As-Safir clearly depicted
power relations that favor Hezbollah and the Syrian Army over
the other anti-regime groups. This signals that As-Safir is siding
with the formers. Conversely, the Daily Star did not present such
a clear, evident distinction. The power it gave the pro-Syrian
regime was minimal; thus, valid and reliable conclusions could
not be reached.
Van Dijk’s framework
In As-Safir, the positive representations, which fall under van
Dijk’s positive self-representation class, were only concerned in
describing the positive doings of the pro-regime. The negative
representations that incorporated a description of what the
anti-regime movement was doing fall under van Dijk’s negative
other-representation. This further implies and supports the claim
mentioned in Halliday’s framework.
The Daily Star also used some of the categories proposed by
van Dijk to positively represent a certain group and negatively
represent the other. However, the categories were not as many as
those utilized by As-Safir primarily because the Daily Star article is
shorter and less detailed. However, throughout this analysis, the
Daily Star is siding with the rebels against the pro-regime allies.
This was apparent in some of the positive representations of the
rebels and the negative representations of the allies.
Those positive and negative representations could be placed in
van Dijk’s ideological square where the positive ones could be
related to the self-representations and the negative ones could be
related to the other-representations. Consequently, As-Safir has
positively represented itself by siding with pro-regime factions, and negatively represented others through its opposition to the
anti-regime factions. Conversely, the Daily Star has positively
represented itself by siding with the anti-regime factions, and
negatively represented others through its opposition to the proregime
As-Safir presented various markers that further reinforced a proregime
ideology. As-Safir used material processes to convey certain
happenings that occurred by or to a specific party. To reduce the
bias, nominalization was used too. For example, instead of using
‘attack’ as a verb, authors used it as a noun. Nonetheless, both
actions are portrayals of what the pro-regime movement is doing.
Classification was evident through labeling the opposing party as
terrorists, jihadi extremist, and takfiri factions, clearly showing
that the authors are against those movements. In modality,
with the use of high-affinity words, As-Safir portrayed such a
distinction between pro and anti-regime movements. They have
positively used different high affinity words to render the positive
actions taken by the pro-regime, and they have negatively used
the high-affinity words to render the negative actions taken by
the anti-regime movements. Additionally, the processing analysis
yielded similar results. Authors used pro-regime sources to
discuss positive actions done by the Syrian army and Hezbollah
such as their advancements and successes. They also used antiregime
sources to further reinforce that the anti- Syrian regime
are up to no good. To bridge media and authority, research has
concluded that As-Safir is a strong advocate of the Hezbollah-led
resistance, highly against Israel and the US. This supplements the
fact that the newspaper reinforces that As-Safir is siding with the
pro-regime party against the other ‘takfiri’ factions.
In the Daily Star, material processes were most evident. Those
processes focused on the description of the wrongdoings of
the pro-regime factions. Conversely, material processes for
describing anti-regime factions were not evident. Nominalization
was not evident as well because an active role of the anti-regime
group was not that apparent. The classification of the opposing
groups was the label ‘rebels’ or ‘rebel fighters’. In context, rebel
does not serve a negative connotation. Rebels are people who
want to alter the social, political, or economic system. Modality
was not evident. There were some examples where the Daily
Star authors used high affinity to describe the negative actions
of the pro-regime groups, yet in one of the cases, they used a
high-affinity word to describe one of the victories of Hezbollah.
In their processing analysis, the authors drew on various sources
from different parties. However, once they mentioned Al-Manar,
they followed it by a Hezbollah-led station. This implies that there
was a negative attitude expressed towards this station. Through
the social analysis, the Daily Star had an inclination towards the
March 14 alliance, known to be anti-regime. Nonetheless, the
Hariri Group has also invested in the newspaper. Even though the
analysis does not show an apparent, yet subliminal inclination
towards the pro-opposition factions, this social analysis and
bridging media with authority further reinforces and makes
visible this inclination.
Fairlcough’s analysis supplemented the conclusions reached in
Halliday’s and van Dijk’s frameworks. As-Safir has again proven to have a positive inclination towards the pro-regime alliance
through the different descriptors discussed. In turn, the Daily Star
has also proven to have a less intense, less apparent inclination
to the anti-regime alliance. The Daily Star’s opposition to the proregime
factions was more evident.
The newspapers reinforce certain ideological beliefs, namely ones
that belong to pro-Syrian regime and the anti-Syrian regime. The
intensity of such portrayal differs. As-Safir has a more intense,
more apparent inclination towards the pro-regime while the
Daily Star has more vague, subliminal inclination toward the antiregime,
mainly against the pro-regime alliance. The linguistic
features used helped in uncovering the underpinning ideologies
of the different newspapers and have unconsciously reinforced
This is crucial and critical because individuals, as Van Dijk  proposed, might unconsciously acquire the ideology through this
discourse. Once this ideology is acquired, it is very hard to let go
off. Reah  even mentions how difficult it is to resist a subliminal,
hidden ideology. Language is thus being socially constructed .
The study aimed at exploring the language of politics in two
opposing newspapers. The language of politics is never a neutral
one. Fowler  agrees with that notion and adds that newspapers
do not actually serve the purpose of delivering facts. Reports are
actually published because they follow certain criteria guided by
ideologies. Hence, reports are highly affected by the supporting
ideologies and political groups. It is, as Van Dijk  described,
a polarization between two parties; the out-group and the ingroup.
Hodge  proposes challenges for CDA starting with the name
itself. With regards to the word critical, Hodge  raised a
concern of who criticizes whom and for what reasons.
Poole  also expressed his concerns on Fairclough’s perspective
to CDA. He argued that discourse has no set definition, and
sometimes it overlaps with language. In addition, CDA is affected
by a variety of influences that have not been addressed. There is
also the concern of differences people have. Poole  argues
that different people read texts differently.
Philo  attempted to find an answer to whether or not
discourse analysis can successfully explain the content of
journalistic reports. Even though Van Dijk’s framework is a
widely used one, Philo  elucidates that the framework is
still text-based. He argues that text-based frameworks fail to
show the origins of competing discourses and their relations to
different social interests. They also fail to show how social and
external factors affect the discourse, and how different audience
perceives discourse. According to Philo  reports cannot be
analyzed unless the social context and the audience’s perception
of reports are taken into account.
Finally, Fowler  highly advocates discourse linguistics to use
discourse-related moments other than the text.
Suggestions for Further Research
Due to the concerns of researchers regarding CDA as a subjective
discipline, attempting to objectify it more could be area of
potential growth. Although one needs to look at texts with a
critical eye, one needs to keep in mind that the act of criticism in
itself is subjective. Another potential area of growth for further
research could regard audiences’ interpretation of the news
reports through developing an instrument that aims at analyzing
the perceptions of the vast audience.
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