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Language is a powerful tool especially when used consciously and deliberately. It can be used in many different ways in order to reinforce and manipulate a message. The news media is a linguistic medium, and one of the most important vehicles for the exchange of ideas. At the same time, the publication of news is considered to be an “industry and a business like any other business that should be profitable”. Thus it is important to be aware of the fact that the output of the news media is related “to the need to make a profit; to have external relations with other industries, with financial institutions and with official agencies”. All these factors will have an effect on the news published and the representation of that news.
Most news agencies are owned by people or companies which are commercial enterprises, meaning that the news media can be influenced by the owner or by the advertisers in its representation of events, thus potentially compromising its freedom of expression.
Not being aware of the real intention of the news industry, we often think of news as informing us about events in the world. Journalists are often described as the “eyes and the ears of the public”. Journalists themselves view their job as seeking the truth, putting it into perspective, and publishing it so that people can conduct their daily activities proficiently.
In fact, sociologists of news have long established that this is rarely what news actually does, due to a complex range of factors, related to sourcing, the pressures of filling news space, the need to make events ‘newsworthy’. Rather, news is a very peculiar social construction of reality. However, a question that is constantly being raised by media critics is who’s watching the watchdogs?
Therefore, what is of significance here is to be aware of the way that discursive choices can be used to signify, for instance, specific identities and values associated with a particular person or event without fully articulating them. This means that these discourses can be manipulated precisely for the purpose of aligning identities and values with some behavior.
In addition, we need to ask questions about the form and function of the messages that journalism conveys, and the discourse process through which such messages are produced and consumed. Most of us can identify the meaning of a news report or what the journalist may be trying to make us think. But identifying exactly how this occurs is a little more difficult.
Regarding the issue of bias, most of us think we can identify biases in news, or those instances when the journalist seems to have an agenda that they are pushing. It is much harder to be able to identify why you come to this conclusion, why you think that a particular article is biased.
Just covering that ‘what’ of the message communicated by newspapers ─ for instance, what the journalists write about the working class, what the journalists write about war or write about Muslims ─ it also is of significance to cover the ‘how’ of newspaper communication. In other words, how journalistic discourse is produced; how journalistic texts function; how arguments are made and convincingly supported; and how newspaper texts are maybe implicated in the production and reproduction of social inequalities are of great significance.
Now, having in mind that the language of the news is not neutral and that it is used for persuasion or manipulation, a social practice of power abuse through which the manipulator exercises control over other people especially against their will or against their best interests and violates social norms, one might think twice before accepting any piece of news as an unbiased piece of the truth. The negative consequence of manipulative discourse typically occurs when the recipients, in our case the trans-editors of news, are unable to understand the real intentions or to see full consequences of the beliefs or actions of the manipulator. This may be the case when the recipients lack the specific knowledge that might be used to resist manipulation.
In order for someone to be able to manipulate many others through text and talk, one needs to have access to some form of public discourse, such as news, opinion articles, scientific articles, novels, TV shows, the Internet, and so on. Therefore, one can say that news discourse is a means of reproduction of power.
Considering that the discursive practices of western news agencies are mostly in the interest of the West and against the interests of the recipients (in our case, the Iranian people) we can categorize them as illegitimate because they violate the rights of our people, though it is not always easy to formulate the exact norms or values that are being violated.
Therefore, on the one hand, we have the western news media that very skillfully and with considerable subtlety manipulate the news to their own interests through using appropriate ideological discourse strategies in a way that their audiences would not even doubt their credibility and honesty. On the other hand, there are other news agencies that have lost their credibility over time due to revealing their ideological biases readily.
When our news translators are faced with the ideologically loaded language, and at the same time seemingly unbiased language, of foreign news agencies they should be able to identify all implicitly present ideological biases before trans-editing them and prevent themselves from being manipulated.
Van Dijk asserts, “Cognitively speaking, manipulation is nothing special; it makes use of very general properties of discourse processing.” He continues that it could be done as easily as drawing attention to information A rather than B. Based on Van Dijk’s ideas about manipulation; one can infer that news media writers have an explicit plan to impair or bias understanding of their news by their audiences. This is something that news agencies have to do provided that they want to stay in the competition.
Our news trans-editors, however, usually do not have the proper knowledge of ideological discourse strategies. As a result they, sometimes, translate the news taken from other sources in the same way, in terms of structure and lexis. They use different structures, in some cases, just to create variety without fully understanding the implications.
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