Alternative discourses and their evaluative power in the journalists’ coverage of a public sector workers’ strike in Botswana
Keywords:Alternative discourses, Evaluative stance, Objectivity, Attribution
This paper investigates how the quotation of external voices in hard news reporting can be exploited by journalists for evaluative purposes when the same news source is quoted by different newspapers. While attribution of news content to external news sources affords journalists support in asserting the objectivity of their news reports, it has also been established that the use of attribution can function as an evaluative outlet for journalists. In this paper I examine how two newspapers selectively (de)emphasise contrasting news narratives when they quote the same external news source and report the same event, thus creating alternative discourses in their news coverage. I examine how the journalists’ indirect evaluation of the external news source as either conciliatory or confrontational is reflected in such alternative discourses, using Botswana as a case study. The news reports selected for analysis are parallel news stories from a government-owned newspaper, Daily News, and a privately owned newspaper, Mmegi, and they cover the 2011 nationwide public sector workers’ strike. The findings show that the reporting was somewhat set in implied antagonistic relations between the government and the workers’ unions.
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