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Chapter Five 1999 Post-Elections Period - Leicester Research ...

Chapter Five 1999 Post-Elections Period - Leicester Research ...

55 Ideally, “hard”

55 Ideally, “hard” news is supposed to conform to high standards of fairness, balance and objectivity. In this respect, news is supposed to be free of personal bias and to separate fact from opinion. Further, the news is supposed to include opposing viewpoints (Ericson, Baranek, & Chan, 1987, p.105). However, the question of objectivity and balance is not at the core of what constitutes editorial and other opinion discourse. Opinion discourses evaluates political issues from a particular point of view, and apportions blame and responsibility to certain political actors. In the process, opinion discourse takes sides in the political debate. Opinion discourse can also be written with the aim of mobilising readers around a particular resonating ideological position which appeals to the ethical and emotional leanings of the readership (Fowler, p.208). 2.5.2 Parliament and Parliamentary Discourse Politicians have several opportunities to frame issues. Among such opportunities are press releases, scheduled media appearances such as press conferences and public rallies. Parliamentary speeches present members of parliament with another opportunity to frame issues. The decision to compare parliamentary data against newspapers data is based on two main aspects. The first is methodological convenience. It is relatively easier to access parliamentary data in its fullness than in any of the other forms such as broadcasts, press conferences and public addresses. In this respect, the study compares archived parliamentary speeches recorded in the Hansard against archived editorials in newspapers which made data collection easier considering the time and financial constraints of the study. Second, it was easier to establish a comparable unit of analysis between parliamentary speeches as recorded in the Hansard and newspaper editorials.

56 In this respect, as will be noted in the following chapter, the paragraph was chosen as the unit of analysis for both newspapers and parliamentary speeches as recorded in the Hansard. Since their establishment, parliaments have been a central arena for political discourse. According to Carl Friedrich (1967), parliament has a dual role: . . . as representatives they integrate the community through periodic appeals, based upon a continuous process of education and propaganda; as a deliberative body they endeavor to solve concrete problems of communal activity – to do or not to do, that is the question (Friedrich, p.327). Parliamentary discourse, therefore, carries within it an inherent tension: on the one hand, it is supposed to reflect different ideologies in society and allow them public expression. On the other hand, it is supposed to moderate between rival factions and to enable them to reach an acceptable level of dialogue, so that the parliament as an institution can fulfil its formal functions. As a central forum in the national political discourse, parliament, presents politicians with an enormous opportunity to frame issues in the face of opposing views. Parliament is the medium par excellence by which political discourse reaches and influences the public, that is, via the media, including the televising of parliamentary debates. Political parties, as representatives of different sections of the population, defend or oppose draft bills proposed by the government, define policies and control their implementation. In doing so, these politicians oppose their political opponents and the government or, on the contrary, align themselves with other parties and the government. In short, they engage in adversarial and confrontational processes.

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