A political linguistics analysis of network television news viewers' discourse

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This study observes the linguistic processes of network television news viewers. It seeks to identify news viewers’ ability to resist news ideology. Fourteen viewers accompanied by a spouse, friend, or relative were surveyed about their news viewing habits. These twenty‐eight viewers were then shown television news segments in pairs and then in groups of six to eight, during which the viewers participated in dyadic and group conversations about the news and current political events. The findings indicate that news audiences often challenge newscasts on a surface level and, less often, on a deeper level regarding bias, news producer intentions, and truth claims. However, there is little evidence to suggest that these viewers resisted the ideological codes of the news. This does not mean that they did not have the ability to resist news ideology. Instead, it seems to be unusual for viewers to do so. A major obstacle to news viewer resistance seems to be lack of alternative significations from which to draw when formulating semiotic narratives about news events. © 1992 Howard School of Communications.

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Howard Journal of Communications