TV Editorials and Elections

A Study in the Role of Implicitness, Intertextuality and Censorship in Lebanon

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
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  • 1 Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA

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According to Article 68 of election law no. 25/2008, the Lebanese media must ensure that standards of fairness, balance and impartiality among candidates are guaranteed. The challenge for national television stations in the months leading up to election day on 7 June 2009 was to comply with the law not just in their ‘factual’ news reports but mostly in the popular editorial opening segment of their newscast which, by definition, is subjective. This leads to the question: how did the TV stations manage this contradiction inherent in the structure and nature of their evening news bulletin when covering parliamentary elections in 2009? To what extent could they actually be impartial in a hybrid genre (TV news editorial) that, by definition, also required them to express confessional/party-specific views on a major, divisive national event? Based on the literature of critical discourse analysis, I argue in this paper that for the most part they did this discursively, by relying heavily on a number of linguistic strategies, specifically implicitness/ambiguity and intertextuality. By doing so, they sought to mask their bias for or against candidates and parliamentary alliances and avoid possible penalties by the recently established electoral monitoring body (the SCEC).