Middle East conflict, discourse of violence, accounts, positioning, affect, broadcast news interviews
Communication | Rhetoric | Speech and Rhetorical Studies
The North American network, ABC-Television, broadcast the news-panel program, Nightline, from Jerusalem during the beginning days of the Second Intifada. One of the main themes of this discussion was the violence, pain, and trauma—the civilians killed or wounded, the military’s actions, and how it all started. Even the horrible facts of violence must be told or narrated and discussed for its morality, causes, consequences, responsibility, and political ramifications. In this sense, violence is discursive. How violence gets told, how versions get constructed or contested is our focus. Participants used the communicative practices of invoking membership categories and activity terms and formulating events in support of their evaluative viewpoint. These membership categories were often presented by the use of conflicting positionings in referencing persons or events. The “conflict” between descriptive terms draws attention to something problematic. Talk of violence also makes relevant reports of affect/feeling. In reporting violence, affect/feeling is reconstructed by participants as both a consequence and a cause of action, to intensify a condition, to raise moral issues, as an obstacle to be overcome, as a shorthand condition to ascribe of another to invite a telling of the events, or to ascribe as an opponent’s political strategy. Such discursive uses of affect/feeling help to make concrete the human costs of violence. In addition, the panelists’ answers were designed, not only to the interviewer or fellow panelists, but to multiple audiences including millions of TV viewers in the USA.
Buttny, R., & Ellis, D.G. (2007). Accounts of violence from Arabs and Israelis on ABC-TV’s panel discussion from Jerusalem. Discourse & Society, 18, 139-161. Retrieved from SURFACE: Communication & Rhetorical Studies Series: http://surface.syr.edu/crs/4/