Contextualization in Newspaper Articles: A Sequential Analysis of Actors’ Quotes on the PATCO Affair

Harry Van Den Berg, Kees Van Der Veer, Johannes H. Smit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Newspaper articles on social conflict are mainly constructed from direct and indirect quotes from actors involved in the conflict, combined with statements made by the editor. The selection of these statements represents a specific range of different viewpoints concerning some ‘newsworthy’ event. But the preferred meaning of a news article as a whole depends not only on the selection but also on the presentation of these selected statements in the text. The pivot of journalistic montage practice may therefore be defined as the way in which these elements are combined in sequential patterns within a specific news discourse. This article explores the possibilities of analysing this practice of contextualization by means of a sequential analysis of different statements on a particular news topic, within the newspaper articles. The results of the sequential analysis show that the way in which viewpoints are presented strongly depends on the editorial definition of the news event. We conclude with a methodological discussion on the perspectives of this method of sequential analysis for the analysis of news discourse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-389
Number of pages31
JournalEuropean Journal of Communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1992

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