Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Towards quantifying quality in the press: Compa...

Electronic data

View graph of relations

Towards quantifying quality in the press: Comparing the stance of UK broadsheets and tabloids towards refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants.

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

  • Costas Gabrielatos
Publication date13/06/2006
Number of pages60
Original languageEnglish
EventJoint meeting of the Corpus Research Group and Language, Ideology and Power Research Group, Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University - Lancaster, UK
Duration: 13/06/2006 → …


ConferenceJoint meeting of the Corpus Research Group and Language, Ideology and Power Research Group, Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University
CityLancaster, UK
Period13/06/06 → …


This talk reports work on an ongoing project on the representation of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press. Although the project combines approaches within critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics, the aim of this talk is to examine how corpus-based techniques can contribute to CDA (e.g. Baker & McEnery, 2005, Hardt-Mautner, 1995; Orpin, 2005; Sotillo & Wang-Gempp, 2004). The analysis is based on two corpora comprising articles relevant to refugees and asylum seekers from 12 national UK newspapers, spanning the last ten years: six broadsheets (87 million words) and six tabloids (30 million words). The starting points for the analysis are keywords, key collocations of the terms refugee(s), asylum seeker(s), immigrant(s), migrants(s) and alien(s), as well as key n-grams containing these terms and selected key collocates. The study also makes use of the notions of semantic prosody (Louw, 1993: 157), and, more significantly, Stubbs' expanded notion of discourse prosody (2001: 111-112). Semantic prosodies can help create a topos without totally explicit argumentation, in that readers are more likely to attend to the connotational rather than the denotational level of specific frequent collocations (e.g. swarms of refugees) (see also van Dijk, 1991: 228; 2000: 219-220), or, in other words, accept the metaphor rather than engage critically with it. This seems more likely if we consider that the frequency of semantic/discourse prosodies is greater than that of the different collocation patterns (e.g. bogus/fake asylum seekers, illegal immigrants) which embody or give rise to it. For example, the topoi of burdening/weighing down, definition, aggregation and quantification (Reisigl & Wodak, 2001: 76-78; Sedlak, 2001: 129) can be created or supported/reinforced by the collective use of quantity/mass/group collocates (e.g. flood/river/tide/wave of refugees; hordes/gangs of refugees), which giver rise to negative semantic prosodies related to the perceived inordinate number or threat of refugees. The comparison will be based on the examination of � � keywords in the two corpora when compared to each other; � collocates of refugees related to their perceived inordinate numbers and their reported plight; � concordances of negative collocates of the groups in question related to the topoi of abuse, burden, competition and criminality; � concordances of collocates related to the plight of the groups in question.

Bibliographic note

Abstract, presentation slides and references.