Covering Conflict: Between Universality and Cultural Specificity in News Discourse, Genre and Journalistic Style

in International Review of Pragmatics

The present article takes under scrutiny news discourse along with the dialectics between the universal journalistic norms and culture-specific determinants. Following van Leeuwen’s (2011) view that notions of genre, discourse and style, though distinct, are very much interrelated, news discourse, understood as both process and product, is discussed here together with hard news reporting genre and styles. The underlying theoretical assumption is that the concept of news in its totality is, by definition, highly contingent on “journalistic work on distance” in its various dimensions (temporal, spatial, epistemic, axiological, and emotional), referred to as “proximization process”. “Proximization strategies”, which are intended to bring the reality represented cognitively and affectively closer to the audiences, on the one hand rely on some universal cognitive mechanisms, but on the other hand are context-sensitive, that is culture-bound and ideologically motivated. The data used to illustrate this process comes from the local and international coverage of post-election violence in Kenya in 2007–2008.

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