Strategic maneuvering in news reporting: case of Hawking's support of legalizing euthanasia

Iva Svačinová


The paper deals with possibility of an argumentation analysis of news reporting. A news report is conceived as a communicative activity type which specifically influences a form of possible persuasion. In the genre of news reporting a journalist can neither submit a standpoint nor support it explicitly, but we can assume that there are specific ways to deal with these constraints. In the paper are used the tools introduced into argumentation theory by Frans van Eemeren and Peter Houtlosser under the programme of extended pragma-dialectics which integrates research of rhetoric strategies into examining the argumentation. The paper is focused on the analysis of strategic maneuvering: an effort to maintain a balance between dialectical correctness and rhetorical effectiveness in limits specified by the communicative activity type. In the paper, it is considered that the reconstruction of relevant argumentation elements may result from the way in which actors or situations are presented in the report. The paper illustrates the possibilities of analysis in a case study of the report “British cosmologist Hawking backs right to assisted suicide” published in September 2013 by Reuters. The analysis shows that the report is not only for information purposes, but it realizes a persuasion of readers. Two strategies are identified in the analysis of report: the specific presentation of conflict of opinion between supporters and opponents of legalization of euthanasia and the specific presentation of Stephen Hawking as a speaker supporting euthanasia whose interests are protected by opponents of legalization. Based on identification of these strategies reconstruction of the arguments is offered in favor of the standpoint that opponents of euthanasia should agree with the legalization of euthanasia.


argumentation, euthanasia, pragma-dialectics, Stephen Hawking, strategic maneuvering

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