Linguistics and the Human Sciences, Vol 5, No 1 (2009)

Where is the hard news? On the news/commentary distinction in the French press

Fiona Rossette
Issued Date: 16 Dec 2011


This article examines the French press in light of the news/commentary distinction, both in terms of discourse structure and variation in authorial voice. It is demonstrated that while news is the genre “by default” in press-reporting in the Anglo-Saxon world, elements generally reserved in English for commentary appear in French news. Main examples are taken from the French dailies Le Monde, Libération and Le Figaro, and are compared with articles from The Times, The Guardian and The Independent. Structurally, French news diverges from the nucleus-satellite model and contains more logical conjunction. Explicit structuring is also carried out through extensive layers of paratext. In terms of authorial voice, French news contains more instances of inscribed appraisal, and can also promote greater proximity between writer and reader. This study provides a glimpse of the very distinctive tone of the French press, and raises the question of whether subjectivity is perceived in the same way in different languages.

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DOI: 10.1558/lhs.v5i1.93


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