Media oracles: The cultural significance and political import of news referring to future events

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Abstract

As noted by Jaworski et al. (2003a, 2003b, 2004), a significant amount of news items refer to future events. This article examines the 'discourse of the future' in order to identify its extent and different types. The research examined headlines in Israeli newspapers over a period of 18 years (1985-2003) and found that approximately 70 percent of the main headlines deal not only with past events but with future ones as well. Thus, contrary to the conventional perception of journalism, this type of journalism does not report what has already happened, but speculates on future events, whether directly or by quoting military or political figures. The qualitative analysis suggests four types of discourse of the future: Predictable Future, Informed Assessment, Speculative Assessment, and Conjectured Future. During the last two decades, we can witness a gradual rise of speculation levels. 'The discourse of the future' carries cultural significance and political import. From the cultural standpoint, journalists encourage us to raise questions regarding the future of the community: What will happen next? Where do we go from here, in the short, medium and long term? What are our hopes? What do we fear most? Nevertheless, in the highest levels of speculation, such discourse bears political import because it provides fertile ground for releasing trial balloons, magnifying threats, creating solidarity, and justifying acts of government.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-321
Number of pages13
JournalJournalism
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Israel
  • Journalism practice
  • News media
  • Rhetoric
  • Speculations

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