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Storying the News through Category, Action, and Reason

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From a sociolinguistic and discourse-analytic perspective, news stories have often been considered as operating within a similar structural framework to oral narratives (Labov, 1972), sharing formal elements with narratives produced in other contexts (although as Bell (1991) has demonstrated in relation to print news, these elements occur in temporal disorganization). In this paper, in line with other recent treatments of news stories, we suggest that news does not conform to this kind of “narrative” structure as such. Examining data taken from print and live-broadcast TV news through a Sacksian (1995) lens, we argue that it is possible to simplify the analysis of news structure by approaching the news as “stories,” where the story elements are organized around the notions of category, action, and reason rather than as a series of narrative clauses involving orientation, complicating actions, evaluation, and resolution (Bell, 1991; van Dijk, 1988).

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Centre for Language and Communication Research, Cardiff University 2: School of English, Media Studies, and Art History, University of Queensland

Publication date: October 1, 2004

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