Horarik’s article is very interesting, as it goes in depth, analysing how particular events (she uses the example of the ‘children overboard affair’) can be so easily manipulated by journalists and the media in general, in taking a certain stance in a situation, and in some cases can transform the way the audience views the story.
As mentioned, Horarik primarily uses the ‘children overboard affair’ in arguing the impact that media has on our perception of events, and how even though the ‘children overboard affair’ was a hoax, it was a major story, and very easy to believe, due to the particular stance the government ‘wanted’ to take. As Korarik mentions, multimodal texts such as front page news (i.e. ‘children overboard’) are a vital source of public attitudes towards certain groups of people. Combined with images, that can work with the story to “co-create” interpretations of news, this form of media has a powerful position in society.
This manipulation can be achieved through various tools, such as genericisation, where individuals or groups are “symbolically removed” from the reader’s world. A strong case is of course the ‘children overboard affair’ where the asylum seekers were referred to in generic terms i.e. “a child and a woman”, while government ministers were symbolically raised in their status by being specified and nominated. Further, those asylum seeekr are identified through classification, referred to as the ‘boat people’. This is a derogatory view, which is quite typical in the business of news reporting.
Horarik ultimately tries to show us, the public, that in each mode of communication, journalists and the media alike, can manipulate, and transform a story to involve the audience in a certain way, making them believe certain views, as clearly evidence in the ‘children overboard affair’. We as readers, and viewers must be on the lookout for such manipulations, and judge on our own accord, whether the social attitude that is put forth, is the one we want to believe.
Macken-Horarik, M. “The Children Overboard Affair”, Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 26.2 (2003), 1 – 16.