The proposed paper builds on our earlier work, in two ways. First, we are interested in exploring connections between our approach, inspired by Bakhtin and Silverstein, and Halliday's. Informal discussions with others analyzing media bias and multimedia semiotics from a Hallidayan perspective (e.g., Jay Lemke and Paul Thibault) suggest that the approaches are complementary, and that cross-fertilization would be productive. Second, we will expand our analyses to include detailed study of visual cues from TV news political coverage. Our earlier analyses focused on the linguistic devices reporters use to communicate implicit evaluations. We are currently analyzing the newscast visuals, to answer two questions. (1) Can the same analytic devices (in our case primarily analysis of signs' indexical values) be applied to nonverbal cues, to explore their role in communicating implicit evaluations? (2) Do the nonverbal cues reinforce the messages we have uncovered through analysis of the verbal ones, or are there different messages sent through the two channels?
The data are US network news coverage of the 1992 and 1996 US presidential campaigns. The corpus includes all weekday coverage of the presidential campaigns for the two months preceding each election. We focus in particular on coverage of the "character" issue candidates' attacks on their opponents' character, and reporters' implicit positions on the issues raised by these attacks. For this paper we will first present an overview of our general findings and then present analyses of verbal and nonverbal cues in two detailed case studies from key days in the campaigns.
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