A Comprehensive Analysis of News Headlines

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About this sample


Words: 2476 |

Pages: 5|

13 min read

Published: Feb 13, 2024

Words: 2476|Pages: 5|13 min read

Published: Feb 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Problem Statement
  2. Research Gap
  3. Justification
  4. Research Objective
  5. Research Question
  6. Limitation
  7. Definition of Key Terms
  8. a. News Headlines
    b. Comparative Analysis
    c. Textual Analysis
    d. Discursive Devices
  10. Discourse Analysis
    Critical Discourse Analysis
    Norman Fairclough Model in CDA
  11. Text (description)
  12. Discursive Practice (Interpretation)
  13. Social Practice (Explanation)
  14. News
    E - Newspaper
  15. Conclusion

Every nation has a common language that represents their culture, norms, identity and context. According to Chomsky (1957), “A set (finite or infinite) of sentences, each finite in length and constructed out of a finite set of elements, a finite number of phonemes (or letters in its alphabet) and each sentence is representable as a finite sequence of these phonemes”. A study “Language Can Boost Otherwise Unseen Objects into Visual Awareness” (Lupyan and Ward, 2013); confirm that language has the power to alter individuals perceptions. Our perception, knowledge and expectations can be shaped by the use of language.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

News is the report that comprises all current activities which are general human interest. In Pakistan, people are curious for news so that they get awareness about the social and political activities of the world. Since independence, Pakistan has been suffering from social, political and economic pressures but still the freedom of media remains constant, many political party use media to express their different perspective. Media plays an underlying role in changing simple social happenings into news and it often controls data according to its interests (Taiwoo, 2007). Media includes a print and electronic forms for spreading information to the audience. Media can be in print form that is through newspapers, books, magazines etc. Print media has contributed significantly for updating masses. It has been the prime source for gaining information.

In recent years, the news readers have moved from traditional print publication i.e. newspapers and magazines to digital news due to technological advancement. According to Prior (2005), “The expanding media choices increases among those seeking information.” The Internet enables inexpensive access to a tremendous range of sources and it is cost effective. This inexpensive customization may permit highly specialized outlets that serve niche tastes and create echo chambers of self-confirming ideological banter (Sunstein 2001)

According to Norman Fairclough (1995), “CDA consists of three dimensions: text analysis (description), discourse analysis (interpretation) and social analysis (explanation).” Since, English and Urdu News websites have lots of addresses news all around the world and people receive the same news items with different languages. After reviewing the literature, it notices that most of the time Pakistani Newspaper headlines have been analyzed by different CDA models therefore; this research will analyze E-newspaper headlines instead of newspaper headlines.

A news headline is a summary of news report which provides information to all busy people who cannot spare time to find the whole story; it normally appears in large fonts. “A headline depicts a news item in minimum words, precisely and quickly informs its readers and creates their interest” (Ungerer, 2000). News headline increases and decreases the worthiness of news by using words and tones. Tiono (2003) says that “for capturing the attention of readers, journalists create the headlines worth reading to make the readers curious to read about the whole content of the news item.”

Problem Statement

According to Mcquail (2005), “the media provide their audience with a supply of information, images, stories and impressions, sometimes according to anticipated needs, sometimes guided by their own purposes and sometimes following the motives of other social institutions (e.g., advertising, making propaganda, projecting favorable images, sending information).” Media is responsible for circulating news among the masses. The news include information about local, regional and global and these same news can be used to create unity, brother, hatred, hegemony, imply power and provoke discrimination. Media has the power to alter people's perception.

In Pakistan, research has been conducted on newspaper headlines in Urdu and English language which include; Textual and Rhetoric Analysis of News Headlines of Urdu and English Newspapers, A Critical Discourse Analysis Of Headlines In Online news portals, Comparative Study of Urdu and English Newspaper Headlines of Pakistan, critical discourse analysis of online news headlines. There are many research studies conducted on newspaper headlines comparing similar events with different newspapers.

This study evaluates the reporting of major E–News headlines displaying the same news in different languages. As in the past few years it is observed that masses have preferred to visit authentic news to keep them updated. As E-news is cost effective, 24/7 updating and giving in-depth and background information, the culture of visiting electronic news has increased in Pakistan. “E-news media surpasses traditional print media in terms of attractive attributes. Studies suggested that the shift towards online news sources stems from the attraction of the internet as news’ medium” (Zulkafli, Omar & Hashim, 2014). As newspapers are restricted to confined boundaries (cities or countries) whereas, E-news is accessible to all countries worldwide.

Therefore, this study is an attempt to conduct textual and discursive analysis of English and Urdu news headlines by using Norman Fairclough 3-dimensional model. Since headlines help to identify the nature of the information presented and are used to attract audience. The study aims to highlight how linguistic features are used in headlines to create an impact on the masses.

Research Gap

This study does not have any specific news genre comparatively from other research papers that are purely focused on political genre or on any one specific genre. Secondly, this study is comparing the same news event of Pakistani Urdu and English E-newspapers. Lastly, the newspapers of both English and Urdu belong to the same publishers. Therefore the study comprises of same news headlines, same publishers and different genre of English and Urdu E-newspapers.


A range of studies has been conducted on newspaper headlines. It was suggested by Lodhi, Mukhtar, Akhtar, Nafees, Akhtar and Sajid (2018) to replicate the analysis of conceptual and contextual features on electronic media. This study is comparison of Pakistani English and Urdu E-newspaper headlines at the textual and discursive level. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to understand how the same publishing house uses the words of two languages which create a particular meanings, emotion or representations of the same event. The study, attempts to draw attention to the significance of language used in news headlines and also find out how an event can be sensitive to the readers by using linguistic devices.

Moreover, this study creates awareness in the masses by identifying the difference in the news and how language in news headlines is used to increase and decrease worthiness of any incident or event. Through the analysis of the same news headlines, this research will present the understanding of the hidden meaning in apparently simple texts for the E-newspaper readers and media analyst.

Research Objective

The study aims has the following two research objectives:

  • To explore the textual difference between Pakistani English and Urdu E-newspaper headlines.
  • To analyze the discursive devices used in Pakistani English and Urdu E-newspaper headlines.

Research Question

Based on the above objectives of the study, this research aims to answer the following research questions:

  • What are the textual differences between Pakistani English and Urdu E-newspaper headlines?
  • What are the discursive devices used in Pakistani English and Urdu E-newspaper headlines?


This study comprises the content of twenty (20) same news headlines each published on the front page of the Pakistani Urdu and English E-newspaper, from the time frame of October to November 2019 (instead of the whole year).

This study has adopted Norman Fairclough 3-dimensional Model which consist of 3 levels i.e. text, discursive and social levels but social level has been omitted because it analyze the element of ideology which is beyond the scope of this study. Therefore this study will focus on one month E-newspapers headlines and these headlines will be analyzed at two levels i.e. social and discursive.

Definition of Key Terms

a. News Headlines

“A headline for newspapers is often the most important element on a page as it gives the reader an overall picture of the news.” (Mozūraitytė, 2015)

b. Comparative Analysis

Przeworski and Teune (1970) restrict “Comparative analysis to analyses where a societal characteristic is shown to have an effect on the variable or relationship of interest, e.g. where a characteristic of the national political system affected some aspect of electoral behavior.”

c. Textual Analysis

“Textual analysis is the method of communication researchers use to describe and interpret the characteristics of a recorded or visual message. The purpose of textual analysis is to describe the content, structure, and functions of the messages contained in texts.” (Frey, L., Botan, C., & Kreps, G. 1999)

d. Discursive Devices

“Discursive devices refer to the micro-linguistic tools that people use in interaction in order to construct a particular version of the world and their relationship to it. To take an example, callers to a child protection helpline use language in a particular way to present the situation they are reporting as sufficiently worrying to warrant the call (a version of the world), but not of such severity that they are guilty of neglect by not calling the police (a version of themselves).” (Potter & Hepburn, 2003).


Discourse Analysis

Discourse emerged from a latin word ‘discursus’ which means a ‘conversation’ (McArthur, 1996). Discourse is defined as ‘a serious speech or piece of writing on a particular subject’ (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 2001, p.388). Carter (1993) highlights that discourse refers to the topics or types of language that are used in a particular context. Moreover, discourse is also referred to any commonly appeared stretch of language. Discourse is usually of two categories i.e spoken and written. According to Van Dijk (as cited in Lodhi et. al (2018) the term discourse can simply be understood as text and talk. It is a form of language that is used in both spoken and written language such as daily conversations, newspapers, texts etc.

Discourse Analysis is a broad terminology which is defined in a different manner by many authors. Some consider it to be the analysis of language 'beyond the sentence'. According to Bavlas, Kenwood and Philips (2002, p.102) “Discourse analysis is the systematic study of naturally occurring (not hypothetical) communication in the broadest sense, at the level of meaning (rather than as physical acts or features'’. According to Richardson, there are two major perspectives to explain discourse analysis. Drid (2010) states “The first paradigm explaining discourse analysis is a formal or structural paradigm”. DA is seen as the exploration of language use by focusing on pieces larger than sentences. The second paradigm in explaining discourse analysis is known as functionalist here in this approach the focus is on specific function that is the language in use. Brown and Yule (1983) suggest discourse is, necessarily, the analysis of language in use. As such, it cannot be restricted to the description of linguistic forms independent of the purposes or functions which these forms are designed to serve in human affairs. (p.1)

Critical Discourse Analysis

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is “a new cross-discipline that comprises the theory and analysis of text and talk in virtually all disciplines of the humanities and social science” (Van Dijk, 1997). CDA views text as an entity that does not occur in isolation (Fairclough, 2010). Critical Discourse Analysis deals with studying and analyzing written or spoken text to reveal the existence of power, dominance and inequality. (Handayani, Heriyanto and Soemantri 2018, p.337). The main purpose of CDA is to present such framework that creates connection between text, discourse and society. Complete explanation of communication is suggested by such framework when all of these constituents are connected. There have been multiple frameworks introduced under the domain of CDA.

Norman Fairclough Model in CDA

Fairclough has presented a model in 1989 and revised it in 1995. His 3-dimensional framework is considered to be one of the significant and detailed frameworks presented in the field of CDA. According to Fairclough every interaction consists of three dimensions i.e. text (description), discursive practice (interpretation) and social practice (explanation).

Text (description)

The first and foremost element of this framework is text or the description stage. Description includes the linguistic analysis. Fairclough (1995) also state that, “Linguistic analysis includes the analysis of the grammar, vocabulary, sound system, semantics, and tone and cohesion organization above the sentence level” (p.57). In Handayani (2018) opinion , linguistic elements for instance choices of words (vocabulary), grammar (transitivity, passivization) and text arrangement (thematic choice, turn-taking system) should be systematically examined. The text at this level should be considered as an object.

Discursive Practice (Interpretation)

The second element of this framework is discursive practice or the interpretation stage. According to Handayani (2018), “In the interpretation stage, the relationship between the discourse and its production and its consumption should be interpreted.”(p.339). This level includes two processes. One is institutional process (editorial procedure), and the other is discourse process (the alteration that the text goes through in production and consumption). Here, the significant concept 'intertextuality' is helpful to describe the discourse process. Furthermore, this step deals with the investigation of intertextual connections among discourse, texts and setting. Those factors which relate to how people produce and interpret the news discourse should be taken into consideration, thereby, the news source and reporting modes should be worthy of exploration in the interpretive stage of news reports (Fairclough, 1995).

Social Practice (Explanation)

The third constituent of this framework is social practice or explanation stage. According to Fairclough (1989: 26), 'Explanation is concerned with the relationship between interaction and social context with the social determination of the process of production and interpretation, and their social effects'. The aspect of power, hegemony and ideology is taken into consideration at social practice level.


News, a complex term which is defined by different authors, provides information through different mediums of communication. “News is information which is transmitted from sources to audiences with journalists, who are both employees of bureaucratic commercial organizations and members of a profession who summarizing, refining, and altering what becomes available to them from sources in order to make the information suitable for their audiences”. (Gans, 1980:80) The value of any news increases or decreases by news headlines, which quickly and briefly draw reader’s attention towards the story, or an opening section of relevant main event. According to Ifantidou (2009), News headlines have main function that is “attention-getting rather than information-providing device since headlines do not accurately represent the articles they introduce. In other words, newspaper headlines are persuasive rather than informative” (p. 97)

E - Newspaper

E newspaper is the electronic version of the same traditional newspapers. This term can also be perceived as “An electronic newspaper is a self-contained, reusable, and refreshable version of a traditional newspaper that acquires and holds information electronically” (Rouse, Techtarget Network). The concept of E-newspaper was introduced during the two year collaborative research conducted on “DigiNews” for technological advances (Eriksson, Åkesson, Svensson and Fredberg:2007). E-newspaper are more competent because of ease of accessibility (0rr, 1997), immediacy (Williams & Nicholas 1999, p. 127), channel of interaction between readers and publishers (McAdams, 1995b, p.78) and cost effectiveness (Rawlins, 1992, p-5).

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In conclusion, this study delves into the evolving landscape of news consumption in Pakistan, particularly focusing on the transition from traditional print media to digital news platforms. With the advent of technology, digital news sources have gained prominence, offering cost-effective, 24/7 updates to an increasingly tech-savvy audience. This shift has significant implications for media analysis, especially in understanding how language, particularly in news headlines, influences public perception and shapes discourse.

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A Comprehensive Analysis of News Headlines. (2024, February 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from
“A Comprehensive Analysis of News Headlines.” GradesFixer, 13 Feb. 2024,
A Comprehensive Analysis of News Headlines. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Jun. 2024].
A Comprehensive Analysis of News Headlines [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Feb 13 [cited 2024 Jun 19]. Available from:
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