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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 32, Issue 5


The alignment of generic discourse units in news stories

Professor Jian-Shiung Shie,
Published Online: 2012-09-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2012-0031


This study aims to explore the alignment of major generic discourse units of a news story on the basis of corresponding stories in The New York Times (NYT) and The NY Times International Weekly (IW). A framework formulated in terms of news superstructure was utilized to approach the generic structure of news stories. A textual survey and genre analysis were conducted on a contrastive corpus of 565 pairs of corresponding NYT and IW news stories. Major genre-specific discourse units, such as the hook and the nut graph, were identified and coded in terms of their textual distance from the headline and from each other. Based on the qualitative and quantitative data, features of NYT and IW discourse organizations were analyzed against the inverted pyramid model. The results show a marked preference for a superstructure in which the hook, the nut graph, and the coda can be identified as a generic discourse unit. Although the inverted pyramid underlies many NYT stories, NYT closing paragraphs are found to be salient discourse spans, contrary to the principle of the inverted pyramid model. The resulting frames of superstructure thus acquired are conceptualized as distinguishing features of hard and soft news stories.

Keywords: generic discourse units; the hook; the nut graph; the coda; the inverted pyramid; soft news; hard news

About the article

Professor Jian-Shiung Shie,

Jian-Shiung Shie (謝健雄) is Professor of Linguistics in the Department of English at Wenzao Ursuline College of Languages, Kaoshiung, Taiwan. His research interests include pragmatics, media discourse, discourse analysis, and cognitive linguistics. His recent work has been published in Discourse & Communication, Journal of Pragmatics, and Intercultural Pragmatics. Address for correspondence: Department of English, Wenzao Ursuline College of Languages, 900 Mintsu 1st Road, Kaohsiung 80793, Taiwan R. O. C. 〈jsshie@mail.wtuc.edu.tw〉.

Published Online: 2012-09-14

Published in Print: 2012-09-13

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 32, Issue 5, Pages 661–679, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2012-0031.

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