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in Media Texts

Iris Breuer & Melanie Napthine with Rosemary OShea

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Copyright Insight Publications This edition rst published in 2008, reprinted in 2008 & 2009 by: Insight Publications Pty Ltd ABN 57 005 102 983 219 Glenhuntly Road Elsternwick Victoria 3185 Australia. Tel: +61 3 9523 0044 Fax: +61 3 9523 2044 Email: Reproduction and Communication for educational purposes The Australian Copyright Act 1968 (the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or 10% of the pages of this work, whichever is the greater, to be reproduced and/or communicated by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or the body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) under the Act. For details of the CAL licence for educational institutions contact: Copyright Agency Limited Level 19, 157 Liverpool Street Sydney NSW 2000 Telephone: (02) 9394 7600 Facsimile: (02) 9394 7601 E-mail: Reproduction and Communication for other purposes Except as permitted under the Act (for example, any fair dealing for the purposes of study, research, criticism or review) no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, communicated or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission. All inquiries should be made to the publisher at the address above. National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication data: Author: Breuer, Iris. Title: Persuasive language in media texts / Iris Breuer, Melanie Napthine, Rosemary OShea. ISBN: 9781921088766 Notes: Includes index. Target Audience: For secondary school age. Subjects: English languageTextbooks. Mass media and language. Persuasion (Rhetoric). Other Authors/Contributors: Napthine, Melanie. OShea, Rosemary. Dewey Number: 808.042 Internal design & DTP: Bec Yule @ Red Chilli Design Cover design concept: Saren Milner Editing: Robert Beardwood, Iris Breuer Printed in Australia by Hyde Park Press

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1 Using language to persuade
Introducing the key terms How ads persuade Analysing persuasive language

1 2 4

6 Analysing persuasive language

How to analyse persuasive language Overview of persuasive devices Persuasive techniques in detail

70 74 78

2 Newspapers: print & online

Whats in the news? Keeping up circulation Tabloids and broadsheets Moral panic Newspaper sections Producing the news Getting the news Bias in the news Constructing newspaper articles Studying language use: words of war Newspaper text types

7 8 9 9 10 11 11 12 13 14 16

7 Writing language analysis


Language analysis: a 4-step process 97 Model for writing language analysis 99 Sample student analysis 101 Language analysis of a cartoon 102 Model for writing on three media texts 104 Sample analysis of three media texts 108 Vocabulary for language analysis 110 Activities to practise language analysis 112

8 Presenting a point of view

Persuasive writing and speaking Speeches Sample student answers

115 119 122

3 Reading newspaper texts

Front-page stories Headlines News reports Feature articles Opinion articles Letters to the editor Editorials Photographs Charts, graphs & tables Cartoons Summary: newspaper text types

17 23 25 27 30 33 35 38 40 43 45

9 Language analysis exam practice

English exam guidelines Sample English exam task English sample answers ESL exam guidelines Sample ESL exam task ESL sample answers Practice exam scenarios

132 133 135 138 138 139 142

4 Television, radio & internet

Television news Television current affairs Talkback radio Issues on the internet

46 52 54 55

About the writers Acknowledgements Index

146 146 147

5 Studying an issue
What is an issue? Sample issue: GM food Research your own issue Sample issue: P-plate driver restrictions

59 62 62 64

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In this chapter

using language to persuade

Key terms How ads persuade using AIDA Analyse persuasive language: a 3-step approach What does position the reader mean?

Introducing the key terms

Can you think of a time when you have tried to convince someone of your point of view? Perhaps you have argued with your parents about attending a party, or debated the merits of a particular pop star with a friend. Whether or not you realised it, you would have been using persuasive techniques to make your case. You would also have been taking into account two important elements of any persuasive language audience and purpose. Whenever a writer or speaker in the media in a newspaper, on the radio or television, on the internet presents a point of view, they too use a range of techniques to convince readers or listeners to agree with them. There are four main factors that the writer or speaker has to take into account: audience, purpose, form and language (including images). Language
How do words and images influence me? e.g. by using a forceful tone? colourful language? striking images?

Who are they writing for? e.g. a wide audience? specialist readers? people affected by the issue?

Writer or speaker

persuading someone

What is the media form and text type? e.g. newspaper editorial, television news story, online discussion? What are its special features?

Why are they writing? e.g. to make me agree? take action? think more carefully?

using language to persuade

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How ads persuade

To understand the role of purpose, audience and form in the art of using language persuasively, lets take a look at a very obvious form of persuasion at work, an advertisement. The purpose of most advertisements is to get you, the consumer, to buy something. Advertisements target specific demographics or audiences. Their use of persuasive language both words and images has to be matched to their purpose and audience, otherwise the ad will lack impact and effectiveness. Copywriters use a formula, summarised in the acronym AIDA, to construct their ads:

A Attention. The first job of any advertisement is to gain your attention. This might be achieved by the use of bold colours, an arresting image or an intriguing phrase. I Interest. The ad needs to hold your interest long enough to tell you about its product or service.
This might be done, for example, through the visual appeal of the ad, through asking questions or through creating suspense. Humour or surprise can also grab and hold the readers interest.

D Desire. Positive associations of words and images make the product seem attractive but the reader also needs to be convinced that owning the product will improve or enhance their life. Emotional appeals are commonly used to provoke desire, as in an ad for insurance that urges you to secure your familys future, which is an appeal to the desire to ensure the security of those closest to you. A Action. The advertisement must prompt the audience to take action and buy the product. Often this is done by creating a sense of urgency by the use of phrases such as Pick up the phone today! and Free gift for the first 100 callers.
See the example opposite showing how the elements of the AIDA formula can be identified. Also see the full-colour version C1 in the colour insert pages. How much does colour contribute to the impact and effectiveness of the advertisement?

Activity 1

Analyse an advertisement
The Garnier Surf Spray ad opposite (C1 in the colour pages) is directed at girls and young women. Now take a look at another Garnier ad, C2 in the colour insert, for Hard Gel, a product aimed at young men.

1. Compare the ways in which the girl and the boy are represented in the advertisements. What differences do you notice? Why do you think they are represented differently? 2. What differences do you notice in the types of appeals made to young women and men? Think about such features as the use of colour and images, and the associations of key words. 3. How does the ad opposite initially capture your attention (A for attention)? 4. How does it keep your interest (I for interest)? 5. What desire is it endeavouring to stimulate (D for desire)? What emotion or emotions is the ad trying to provoke? 6. How does it persuade the reader to take action (A for action)? How effective is it in achieving its purpose?

Insight persuasive language in media texts

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Attention is captured by: image of attractive young woman with surfboard alliteration (surf spray) and rhyme (spray and day) strong heading and bold colours

Interest is held by: capital letters and the pink background and angled appearance of unleash your style! draw the reader into the description of the product direct address to the reader (Want a beach style look?)

Desire is aroused by: description with fruit micro-wax technology appeals to the viewers desire for a product that is both natural and scientifically researched invitation to unleash your style promises transformation and personal freedom image of the young woman whose attractiveness the (female) viewer is encouraged to want to imitate

Action is prompted by: instructions for achieving beach style hair Garnier slogan Take care

Activity 2

Create your own advertisement

Design your own advertisement, using the acronym AIDA.

1. Explain what techniques you use for each of the four principles. Remember to keep your specific audience in mind; an ad for a new iPod would have a different target market from that for a cleaning product, for instance. This will affect your decisions about what sort of language to use (formal or informal), what emotion you would like to invoke (for example, envy, hope or fear) and what image or images you use. 2. Share your ads with the class. Which ones were particularly effective? Why?

using language to persuade

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Analysing persuasive language

Advertisements are an example of a form in which persuasive language is usually quite obvious. There is nothing understated about an instruction to Buy now! for example. But language can be used persuasively in all media forms, often in much more subtle ways. So how do we recognise persuasive language at work? This section outlines the basic knowledge and skills you need to understand how language is used to persuade.

Three-step approach
There are three basic steps to understanding how persuasive language works. Step 1: Identify the main point (the main contention). Look for the central message or viewpoint on the issue this is what the writer is persuading you to accept. State the main contention in your own words in a single sentence. (See Main contention, p.71.) Step 2: Focus on the language. Take an overview of the language is it formal? Sophisticated? Is it informal or colloquial like everyday speech? (See Style, p.73.) Look for emotive words words that trigger your feelings. How do they make you feel? Next, see if you can work out how you are set up to respond in certain ways. For example, are you made to feel sympathetic to a person or group? Or to feel opposed to an idea? This is called positioning the reader and is discussed in detail below. What is the tone of the piece? That is, how would it sound if you read it aloud? Would it be said in a disgusted way? A light-hearted, jocular way? Sarcastically or ironically? Calmly? In a controlled and reasoned way? (See Tone, p.71.) Step 3: Analyse how the language positions you. Find as many examples as you can of words or phrases that influence you to accept the writers viewpoint. (See Overview of persuasive devices, pp.748.) Analyse means work out how the writer has used a situation, words or images to make you respond in a particular way.

What does position the reader mean?

Writers aiming to persuade you to accept their viewpoint have to deliberately get you to come on side. This can be done heavy-handedly or subtly or in myriad ways in between. Writers have to position you to agree with them to share their point of view. This means that they use language, stories, evidence and arguments to manipulate your responses. The aim is to create a particular effect on you, which means that your emotions are targeted as well as your use of logic and reason. For example, a personal anecdote might cause you to feel sympathetic towards the writer, and therefore to be more inclined to agree with their point of view. Or the writer might use strong language to attack opponents, positioning you to share the writers rejection of alternative viewpoints. If you can see how readers are being positioned, then you will be well on your way to understanding how language is used to persuade.

Insight persuasive language in media texts

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Vocabulary for position

It is important to develop a good vocabulary for discussing language use. Here are some words that you can use when you examine how writers are positioning readers. The varied vocabulary shows you the kinds of ways in which persuasive writing can operate and this is not a complete list by any means!

This (give example) positions

Alternative words for position and see

sets up / prepares / predisposes / influences / sways / inclines / persuades / convinces / compels / manipulates / coerces / pressures consider / agree / accept / think / respond / believe / understand / like / feel sympathy for / realise / disagree / reject / fear / dislike / distrust / lose sympathy for / lose patience with

the reader to see

Activity 3

Key words and positioning the reader

Graffiti vandals are a plague on the inner city, skulking in alleyways, armed with spray cans, destroying some of our most treasured landmarks with their unsightly scribbles. Their flagrant disregard for both public and private property sees them scrawl all over buildings, trains, houses and streets. Clearly, existing laws are no deterrent since these delinquents return like pests to a picnic. Its time we started taking seriously the millions of dollars worth of damage they wreak each year. Forcing them to clean up their own messes would be a good start, but for incorrigible offenders, jail time is the only way to show that we as a society will no longer tolerate their wanton destruction of our city. Bold and original, they are the unsung artists of the city, enlivening our alleys and decorating our tunnels with their inventive designs. They are graffiti artists, who neither demand nor receive money or fame for their contributions to the brightening of our urban landscape. The proposal to imprison anyone caught adding colour and originality to our concrete jungle would be laughable, were it not so sad. Far from punishing, we ought to be thanking these anonymous contributors to our citys uniquely vibrant character. If they were offered places they could paint legally, Ive no doubt any problems with the occasional foray onto private property would vanish.

Les Hooper, Sale

Frida Carroll, North Melbourne

1. Find all the words that refer to graffiti or graffiti artists. Make two columns, one for positive references and one for negative. 2. How would the words in the first column position the reader to respond to graffitists? What about the words in the second column? Discuss some examples in detail. 3. What emotions are evoked by the words in the first column? What about those in the second column? 4. How does Les Hoopers letter position the reader to reject graffiti artists? 5. How does Frida Carrolls letter position the reader to sympathise with graffiti artists?

using language to persuade

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newspapers print & online

l l l l l l l l l

In this chapter
Print and online versions Keeping up circulation Tabloids and broadsheets Newspaper sections & text types Producing the news Getting the news Bias in the news Constructing newspaper articles Studying language use words of war

Traditional newspapers remain a primary source of information about news and current events. They are still sold daily, and once printed do not change. However, most major newspapers are now also on the internet. Online versions of newspapers differ from their paper counterparts in several important ways that affect how news is presented and how it is received by readers.

Content is fixed after it is printed. May use attention-grabbing illustrations and photographs. Have several supplementary sections which vary according to the day of the week, e.g. television guides, lifestyle magazines, cooking lift-outs, car magazines.

Content changes throughout the day. In addition to still images, may have video news stories and slideshows. Do not usually have the supplementary sections of the paper available. Often provide alternative extra content, e.g. blogs from regular writers; forums for readers to discuss issues; a search function for finding articles on a specific subject. Articles are indicated on the homepage by their headlines which readers must click on to see the full article. Articles online are sometimes shortened versions of their paper equivalents.

Articles usually appear in full directly under their headlines, although some stories are concluded on a later page of the paper.

Insight persuasive language in media texts

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Activity 1

Print versus online newspapers

1. Select a newspaper which has an online version and compare its front page (print) with its homepage (online). What differences can you see? Consider such things as the layout of the page or screen, the major stories that appear in each version and the way in which you read them. Were you drawn to different content in each version? If so, why? 2. Find two articles which appear in both the print and the online versions of the paper. Are they identical? If not, discuss the differences between the two versions, and why they might not be the same. 3. Make a list of some of the advantages and disadvantages of each form of news delivery. 4. Do you think the audiences are the same for print and online newspapers? Give reasons for your answer.

Whats in the news?

Despite their differences, both print and online newspapers share the same purpose: to deliver the news of the day to as many people as possible. Millions of events are happening every day all over the world. Have you ever wondered how newspapers select their news stories each day? What kinds of questions are used to decide what gets in the paper and what gets left out? Here are some: Is it outrageous? Is it unexpected? Is it scary? Can it be photographed? Would the readers find it interesting? Might it have an impact on the readers lives? Would it make the readers cry? Would it give the readers a laugh? Would it SELL the paper? The reality is NEWSPAPERS ARE BIG BUSINESS. This means that the aim of newspaper companies is to maximise profit by selling as many newspapers as possible or, in the case of online newspapers, by getting as many hits to their website as possible. Readership, in the case of print newspapers, is referred to as circulation. The reason that circulation is so important is because the larger the number of readers, the higher the price the newspaper can charge for daily advertising space in the paper. You might be surprised to learn that, for print newspapers, only one-third of the income generated comes from sales the other two-thirds comes from advertising. What does this mean? Basically, that newspapers are at least as interested in pleasing their advertising clients as they are in providing information to their readers.
Sources of newspaper income

newspapers print and online

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