Conférence organisée dans le cadre du séminaire de Marcel Burger "Médiatiser des identités publics en contexte polémique".
In an era of proliferating news discourse and growing distrust of establishment institutions, journalists face a double bind: they need to embrace the digital world to maintain and attract audiences and keep up to speed with news flows across social networks, while at the same time they must work to distinguish their profession, their product, and their outlets from knowledge rivals. To live up to this challenge, journalists employ a range of discursive techniques. One such technique, usually reserved for campaign coverage but increasingly used in business-as-usual coverage, focuses attention on the linguistic performance of people in the news and associates types of language use with types of speakers. To illustrate this claim, I discuss journalists’ uptake of political (mis)communication.
My data consist of recycled snippets of reported speech taken from a Belgian news site. These snippets present us with what journalists consider worth using (and re-using), revealing, and thus infotaining, bits of reported speech about the main characters: the quoted politician and the journalist captioning the quote. Rather than speak for themselves, the quotes are recentered to speak through recontextualization and double-voicing. I argue that such journalistic metadiscourse formulates acceptable and unacceptable interactional styles and linguistic performance in the public sphere. Findings show how a media logic conditions what politicians can and cannot say, to whom and about whom, and how journalists assess politicians who do not comply with this logic.