Newspaper style: characteristic features and substyles.

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Newspaper style: characteristic features and substyles.

Newspaper styleis a system of interrelated lexical, phraseological and grammatical means which is perceived by the community speaking the language as a separate unity that basically serves the purpose of informing and instructing the reader. To attract the reader's attention specific headlines, space ordering, a large proportion of dates, personal names of countries, institutions, and individuals are used. Since the primary function of newspaper style is to impart information, only printed matter serving this purpose comes under newspaper style proper.

The newspaper also seeks to influence public opinion on political and other matters.

The headlines of news items, apart from giving information about the subject-matter, also carry a considerable amount of appraisal (the size and arrangement

of the headline, the use of emotionally coloured words and elements of emotive syntax), thus indicating the interpretation of the facts in the news item that follows. But, of course, the principal vehicle of interpretation and appraisal is the newspaper article and the editorial in particular. Editorials (leading articles or leaders) are characterized by a subjective handling of facts, political or otherwise. They have much in common with classical specimens of publicistic writing and are often looked upon as such. However, newspaper evaluative writing unmistakably bears the stamp of newspaper style. Thus, it seems natural to regard newspaper articles, editorials included, as coming within the system of English newspaper

style. But it should be noted that while editorials and other articles in opinion columns are predominantly evaluative, newspaper feature articles, as a rule, carry a considerable amount of information, and the ratio of the informative and the

evaluative varies substantially from article to article. To understand the language peculiarities of English newspaper style it will be sufficient to analyse the following basic newspaper features:

1) brief news items,

2) advertisements and announcements,

3) the headline,

4) the editorial.


Brief news item


36. Brief news item. The principal function of a brief news item is to inform the reader. . It states facts without giving explicit comments. News items are essentially matter-of-fact, and stereotyped forms of expression prevail. As an invariant, the language of brief news items is stylistically neutral, which seems to be in keeping with the allegedly neutral and unbiased nature of newspaper reporting; in practice, however, departures from this principle of stylistic neutral­ity (especially in the so-called "mass papers") are quite common. News­paper style has its specific vocabulary features and is characterized by an extensive use of:

a) Special political and economic terms, e. g. Socialism, constitution,

b) Non-term political vocabulary, e. g. public, people, progressive, nation-wide,

c) Newspaper clichés, i.e. stereotyped expressions, commonplace phrases familiar to the reader e. g. vital issue, pressing problem, informed sources, danger of war. Clichés more than anything else reflect the traditional manner of expression in newspaper writing.

d) Abbreviations. News items, press reports and headlines abound in abbreviations of various kinds. Among them abbreviated terms— names of organizations, public and state bodies, political associations, industrial and other companies, various offices, etc.—known by their initials are very common, e.g. UNO (United Nations Organization), TUG (Trades Union Congress).

e) Neologisms. These are very common in newspaper vocabulary. The newspaper is very quick to react to any new development in the life of society, in science and technology.

The following grammatical peculiarities of brief news items are of paramount importance, and may be regarded as their grammatical parameters.

a) Complex sentences with a developed system of clauses, e. g.

b) Verbal constructions (infinitive, participial, gerundial) and verbal noun constructions.

c) Syntactical complexes, especially the nominative with the infin­itive. These constructions are largely used to avoid mentioning the source of information or to shun responsibility for the facts reported.

d) Attributive noun groups are another powerful means of effecting brevity in news items.

e) Specific word-order. Newspaper tradition, coupled with the rigid rules of sentence structure in English, has greatly affected the word-order of brief news items. The word-order in one-sentence news para­graphs and in what are called "leads" (the initial sentences in longer news items) is more or less fixed.


The headline.


The headline (the title given to a news item or an article) is a dependent form of newspaper writing. The main function of the headline is to inform the reader briefly what the text that follows is about. English headlines are short and catching, they "compact the gist of news stories into a few eye-snaring words. A skillfully turned out headline tells a story, or enough of it, to arouse or satisfy the reader's curiosity. In some English and American newspapers sensational headlines are quite common. The practices of headline writing are different with different newspa­pers. In many papers there is, as a rule, but one headline to a news item.

Syntactically headlines are very short sentences or phrases of a va­riety of patterns:

a) Full declarative sentences, e.g. 'They Threw Bombs on Gipsy Sites' (Morning Star),

b) Interrogative sentences, e. g. 'Do-you love war?' (Daily World),

c) Nominative sentences, e.g. 'Gloomy Sunday' (The Guardian),

d) Elliptical sentences:

a. with an auxiliary verb omitted, e.g. 'Initial report not expected until June!' (The Guardian),

b. with the subject omitted, e.g. 'Will win' (Morning Star), lWill give Mrs. Onassis $ 250,00(Xa year'.(77i£ New York Times);

c. with the subject and part;of-the predicate omitted, e.g. 'Off to the sun' (Morning Star),

e) Sentences with articles omitted, e. g. 'Step to Overall Settlement Cited in Text of Agreement' (International Herald Tribune),

Articles are very frequently omitted in all types of headlines.

f) Phrases with verbals—infinitive, participial and gerundial, e.g. TogUS aid* (MorningStar), To visit Faisal' (Morning Star),

g) Questions in the form of statements, e.g. 'The worse the better?' (Daily World),

h) Complex sentences, e. g. 'Senate Panel Hears Board of Military Experts Who Favoured Losing Bidder' '(The New York Timesi)

Headlines including direct speech:

a. introduced by a full sentence, e.g.', 'Prince Richard says: "I was not in trouble"' (The Guardian),

b. introduced elliptically, e.g. 'The Queen: "My deep distress'" (The Guardian),

The above-listed patterns are the most typical, although they do not cover all the variety in headline structure.

The headline in British and American newspapers is an important vehicle both of information and appraisal; editors give it special atten­tion, admitting that few read beyond the headline, or at best the lead. To lure the reader into going through the whole of the item or at least a greater part of it, takes a lot of skill and ingenuity on the part of the headline writer.

The Editorial

The function of the editorial is to influence the reader by giving an interpretation of certain facts. Editorials comment on the political and other events of the day. Their purpose is to give the editor's opinion and interpretation of the news published and suggest to the reader that it is the correct one. Like any evaluative writing, editorials appeal not only to the reader's mind but to his feelings as well. Hence the use of emotionally coloured language elements, both lexical and structural, Here are examples:

"The long-suffering British housewife needs a bottomless purse to cope with this scale of inflation." (Daily Mirror)

In addition to vocabulary typical of brief news items, writers of edi­torials make an extensive use of emotionally coloured vocabulary. Along­side political words and expressions, terms, cliches and abbreviations one can find colloquial words and expressions, slang, and professionalisms. The language of editorial articles is characterized by a combination of different strata of vocabulary, which enhances the emotioiial effect, for example:


MRS. THATCHER has now arrived back from her American jamboree proudly boasting that she is now "totally established as a political leader in the international sphere."

This simply goes to show that the fawning American audiences drawn from the top drawer of US capitalist society to whom she spoke will buy any farrago of trite and pious platitudes.




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