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The semantics behind the news' effectiveness

Jan 10, 2011 7:07 am
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Dick May of Seeing Greene blog, as seen online..."][/caption]Dick May's Seeing Greene blog roared back for the New Year with the sort of story we all wish we could write in this biz... a semantics lesson unveiling of classic newswriting and reporting tricks akin to Toto's revealing of the Wizard in Frank Baum's great fantasy... utilizing a pair of headlines from the Daily Mail and Daily Freeman on last month's strangely Oedipal arson/suicide story from Athens.

"Our two cited headlines differ, then, with regard to the kind of event they announce. They introduce opening sentences that are alike in form (Lagged Attribution) and are similar in the substance of their main clauses," May, himself a veteran newsman, writes. "Those ledes differ, however, in how they identify the maker of the reported speech act. In the second passage, the speaker is identified as the sheriff of Greene County. In the first passage, the speaker is identified—well, depicted?--as the Greene County sheriff’s office."

The piece is particularly interested given these days when all news has been questioned for bias, and not just accuracy or clarity, or even professional standards.

For the full piece click here...