Evaluation and Audience Acceptance in Biotech News Texts

Lise-Lotte Holmgreen, Torben Vestergaard

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    It is well known that news texts are not value neutral and that in these texts even genuinely factual statements can function as evaluations. Hence, only an analysis of the types of evaluation used will reveal the true picture of the attitudinal import of reporting texts. The paper explores these features by analysing the coverage of the biotechnology debate in one of the largest Danish newspapers, Politiken, during the first 9 months of 2004. The aim of this analysis is to uncover how seemingly objective and ‘neutral' accounts of events and state of affairs can be used by journalists to significantly influence the attitudes of the readership. In the analysis, it is shown that the feature Judgement (of people) is virtually absent, whereas Appreciation (of things) is quite frequent, reflecting the fact that the perceived risk factor associated with biotechnology was paramount in the said period. Furthermore, the metaphorical construction of the audience is discussed through the combination of conceptual and rhetorical theories. This combination allows for the assessment of metaphor's role in constructing a conceptual common ground between the writer and his audience with the aim of convincing the audience of a particular viewpoint. Moreover, it is shown that the newspaper caters to a readership which sees risk as a societal and ethical issue rather than a scientific one. Along these lines, the imagined reader is constructed as a less change oriented person than the reader of the newspaper's opinion articles.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Pragmatics
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)586-601
    Number of pages15
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • newspaper language
    • appraisal
    • metaphor
    • rhetoric
    • ideal reader


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