transfer 15(1) » Medieninhalte

Linguistic Devaluation and Stereotypical Representation of Terrorist Suspects in German Television News Coverage

There is a lack of research on the connection between language abstraction, discrimination and stereotypical representations of out-group members in television. To achieve these aims, we accomplished a content analysis of German news reports dealing with terrorism by using the Linguistic Intergroup Bias (LIB).
We analyzed how the relationship between the out-group (terrorist suspects) and the in-group (potential victims/fighters against terrorism) is represented simultaneously on the linguistic and stylistic level in negative and positive contexts. We used the LIB to examine the levels of abstraction of active indicative, passive indicative or subjunctive of predicates and the levels of abstraction of sentence subjects to find cues of out-group devaluation and in-group favoritism concerning „terrorism in general“ vs. „terrorist attacks“, „commercial“ vs. „public“ media and „objective“ vs. „subjective“ forms of reporting. To identify discrimination, we looked for references to e.g., origin.
There was no discrimination or devaluation of the out-group found using linguistic abstraction. By contrast, the in-group was sometimes enhanced or devaluated in negative contexts. This effect was particularly shown in subjective opinion-oriented reporting and by private broadcasts. Reports of „terrorist attacks“ showed an accumulated use of the subjunctive supported by the fact that persons of the out-group are more often displayed in this issue than in reports about terrorism in general.