Since newspaper is a major channel for ideological promotion, various parties like politicians, target audience and advertisers are involved in deciding how to report a story (“Media bias”, 2014). In the United States, media bias can be classified into liberal, conservative and corporate (“Media bias in the United States”, 2014).
According to Fairclough (2001), language is a primary medium of power relations and ideologies, contributing to a certain group’s domination. By power relations, Fairclough means power difference between classes, genders, ethnic groups and social institutions (2001). In the academic field, media discourse has gained more attention in the past decades. Sociolinguists suggest that mass media exercise their hidden power by controlling readers’ access to knowledge and presenting subjective viewpoints (Fairclough, 2001; Van Dijk, 1993). One of them is Tuen A. van Dijk, who specializes in Critical Discourse Analysis and has written many books or articles on media discourse. In his work Power and the News Media, Van Dijk states that newspapers, which are controlled by power elites, selectively choose “facts” and persuade readers to hold a certain social or political standpoint (Van Dijk, 1997). Other linguists who have done research on the realm include Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe.
Carpentier and De Cleen note the great use of Critical Discourse Analysis for media discourse by bringing up Bell and Garrett’s statement that the approach is a standard framework in dealing with media texts (as cited in Carpentier and De Cleen, 2007). Also cited in their work is Wodak and Busch’s remark that media are public spaces involving power struggles (Carpentier and De Cleen, 2007).
Multimodal Discourse Analysis is a new trend in studying media texts as well. Kress and Van Leeuwen propose that mass media can exercise authority over visual language in favour of their interests (2006). Their work is based on Multimodal Discourse Analysis and social semiotics: they identify ideational, interpersonal and textual functions of visual texts as well as their interaction with narrative language (Kress and Van Leeuwen, 2006).Through studying images and language collectively, Kress and Van Leeuwen (2006) combine Critical Discourse Analysis and Multimodal Discourse Analysis to examine how media constructs a version of reality.
One recent political issue which has been represented differently in newspapers of distinct political inclinations is the US minimum wage hike. This paper will compare two newspaper cuttings on Obama’s proposal of minimum wage hike and the Republicans' banning of it. Since both news clips consist of images and words, I am going to discuss them in terms of Multimodal Discourse Analysis (MDA), then Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA).
Outline of CDA and MDA
As Fairclough describes (2001), CDA considers language as constructions as well as representations of the world. Language and society are interrelated:...