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A General Analysis of News reporting
--Swift’s Album Break New Ground
It is safe to say that news reporting has become an indispensable part in people’s daily life, especially in this highly-developing society. Newspaper
could transmit a large amount of information to the public. As a result, journalistic English is considered to be an important variety of modern English writing. In this article, our focus is mainly on one form of newspaper writing-news reporting, as it serves the central funtion of the newspaper—to
inform the public of the latest happenings.
Presented below is a brief stylistic analysis of a news item on current event entitled Swift’s Album Break New Ground. It is approached from the angle of
linguistic description, including analysis at graphological level, lexical level and syntactic level.
?. The analysis at the graphological level
We can see from the newspaper that the space taken up by the picture is almost twice as large as that of the characters. They are arranged in this way to attract readers’ attention and arouse their curiosity. The famous beauty in the picture is so capitivating that many readers would like to know what happened on her, and naturally they will read the article below.
Paragraphing refers to te way in which the text as a whole is divided into smaller units—paragraphes. Effective paragraphing helps to reveal the
relational structure in a text and the organization of the content. We can see that the first paragraph contains only one sentence, but it
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conveys to readers the general information. The lead of this news item is lucid and clear bcause readers would not consume too much time on it, so a brief and interesting beginning is necessary in news reporting.
Apart from the funtion of organizing the content of the text, paragraphing is also employed to give readers a rest. In news reporting, the second function is emphasized. Long paragraphs may impose longer spans of concentration on the reader with solid slabs of type setting, while short paragraphs provide the eye with more resting places, hence increase the readability of the text. In this news item, there are altogether 13 paragraphs with 18 sentences, i.e. about 1.4 sentenes per paragraph, thus we can conclude that it is so short-paragraphed that it could serve to attract readers and make it more readable. Table 1. sentence number in paragraphs
Paragraph number Sentence number
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3. The quotation mark
According to Qian Yuan, quotation mark could indicate the authenticity of the quoted words and direct the reader’s attention to them. In this news item, there are up to 9 sentences belonging to quotations in the total 18 sentences , so in news reporting, the frequent use of quotation marks helps to add authenticity to the story and to give an impression of objectivity by distancing the writer from the reported fact or opinion.
?. The analysis at the lexical level
1. The use of hard words
Simple words refer to one or two-syllable words, while hard words refer to words with three or more syllables, not counting inflection, compounding, proper nouns. So in this new item, hard words are as follows:
together positioned different boundaries especially emotionally
magazine creation interview particular priority successful
collaborated collaboration another important however irresistable
addictive acknowledge different
Table 2. words and sentences statistics
Total words 415
Hard words 26
Total sentences 18
Average sentence length 23
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Computation shows that there are 26 hard words, 18 sentences and totally 415 words. When we apply Robert Gunning’s Fog Index formula which
measures the accessibility of a text, we can get the following results:
So the Fog Index=0.4×(H+L)
According to Qian Yuan, an easily accessible text will have a fog index of about 10. The fog index in this news item is just slightly higher than 10, which indicates that news reports are fairly easy to understand
2. The use of phrasal verbs and verb phrases
Phrasal verbs and verb phrases are used in place of one-word vebs to show informality. In this news item, there are many such expressions, for example:
break new ground, get back, push the boundaries, grow up,
open mind, make good use of, put out, dress up, make fun of,
We can see that the use of phrasal verbs and verb phrases could make the text more readable and easier to be understood. Since the assumed readers of news reports are all people, regardless of their age, sex and education background, it is better to use such simple words to attract larger readers. Besides, considering the average sentence length of the sample news report, which is much higher than the standard average sentence length, the use of simple words contributes much to lowering the difficulty of the text, hence enchancing the accessibility.
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?. The analysis at the syntactic level
1. Sentence length
Sentence length is often used as a creterion of the readability of a text and shorter sentences are easier to understand than longer ones. According to the research of UPI(United Press International), the standard sentence length is 17 words.
We know from the above statastics that the average sentence length of this news item is 23, longer than the standard length, which shows that in order to pack as much information as possible into their passages, news reporters tend to expand their sentence length even at the expense of increasing the difficulty of the text. Meanwihle, to maintain the readability of the text, news reporters usually shorten the words, which could be seen in the low percentage of hard words.
2. The use of positive declarative sentences
It can be observed that the sentences in this news report are largely declarative sentences. This is because the ultimate aim of news reporting is to inform the reader of certain facts, and the statement-type sentences just fulfill the informative function. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of its sentences are positive ones, since the reader is generally interested in what has happened instead of what has not happened.
3. The mobility of quotation places
There are 6 quotations in this news item, accounting for almost a half of the text, so the analysis of quotations is also a focus in this kind of writing. It could be noticed that the quotation is often moved away from its usual order, either in direct or indirect form. For example:
“One of the things I’m proudest of is that every album I’ve put out so far
stands alone in one way or another,” Swift said in a recent interview with
the Los Angeles Times.
“I think the last two years, especailly the tour, really opened my mind to
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a lot of things, musically and emotionally,” Swift told Billboard magazine
in an interview that focused on the creation of Red. ”On this particular
record I tried to operate from an emotional place, and I made the emotion
of the song a top priority.”
In the first example given above, the quotation is shifted to the initial position of the clause, as the writer considers the content is more important than the source, and such an arrangement of the clause structure can give the quotation its due emphasis, while in the second example, the source is put in the middle of the clause, breaking the quotation into two parts. This clause is so arranged as to keep the clause of dragging as the quotation is much too long compared with the source. At the same time, such an arrangement may add variety to the overall sentence structure.
We have approached the news report “Swift’s Album Break New Ground”
from various levels of linguistic description. We could reasonably conclude that the placement of the attractive picture, the effective paragraphing, the extensive use of quotations, the frequent employment of easily-understood words and the well-organized sentence structures all contribute to the readability and popularity of this news report.
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