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ENGL Fundamentals of Media Communication Final assignment – term paper Name: Lee Sin Ming (09369162D) Introduction According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, ‘mass media’ is defined as the main ways that large numbers of people receive information and entertainment, that is television, radio, newspapers and the Internet. With reference to the Manila hostage incident happened on August 23, 2010, this paper focuses on the importance of the mass media in a social event. The role of the media in influencing and constructing the incident will be examined based on the development of the event and two relevant newspaper articles.

Media influence to the incident Knox (2007:1) suggested that more and more large mass media organizations were able to transcend boundaries of time and space under the development of globalization and “free markets” in “the era of convergence”. This is also called “time-space compression” (Harvey 1999). The Manila-hostage crisis is an effective illustration of the theory.

A dismissed Philippine policeman, Mendoza, realized the importance of mass media in modern world and tried to make use of it. He hijacked a tour bus and held 15 Hong Kong tourists as hostages with a gun in an attempt to get his job back. By doing so, he believed that he could raise public concern through being reported by the mass media and thus gave pressure on the authority to fulfill his demand.

He was partly right as he successfully gained attention from the media. The incident was reported around the globe within minutes and he was interviewed through the radio. The

mass media kept tracking the development of the event via TV, radio and online news reports during the day. People could access to update information continuously regardless the time and geographic barriers. Negotiations took place peacefully until the gunman saw reports of his brother being arrested on TV on the bus. He was stimulated and the situation went worse. After 11-hour standoff, he started executing the hostages.

The last stage of rescue, including Philippine police’s attempt of breaking into the bus, shooting by both the police and Mendoza, and how the survivors and dead bodies got out of the vehicle, was even broadcasted live on TV for around 90 minutes. Millions, witnessing the crisis, were shocked and a sorrowful sensation was created over Hong Kong. With comprehensive coverage in various mass media till today, the event has aroused international concern over the investigation and criticism of the rescue operation of Philippine police.

It can be concluded, therefore, that the mass media was greatly influential in the outbreak, development and configuration of the Philippine tragedy, of which the media texts are worth analyzing. Analysis of 2 related media texts “Discourse analysis interfaces with the analysis of grammar and the analysis of social activity, somewhere between the work of grammarians on the one hand and social theorists on the other” (Martin & Rose 2007:4). In this paper, therefore, two media texts, entitled ‘Holding up a mirror to a broken country’ (news 1) and ‘Report limits blame over Manila hostage crisis’ (news 2), are studied by applying discourse analysis to explore how the incident is constructed by different mass media from the involving places.

To fully interpret the texts, the three features of register should be examined first. Mode concerns about the channel of communication, and conveys the textual meaning. It is the same for the texts which are both written news articles, sharing similar organization, i.e. a headline preceded by the nucleus. For field, we are referring to what the text is about. Both texts are reporting on the official results of the investigation on the Manila-hostage incident conducted by the Philippine government. Therefore, the ideational meanings are constructed in a similar way, shown by some of the common elements in the articles in the following table.


News 1

News 2

All of Hong Kong, death of eight tourists, the hostage crisis, the report, Aquino, Mendoza,

A government report, the botched rescue, eight hostages, Mendoza, Aquino, errors, a fact-finding

mistakes, the fact-finding committee committee, Rizal Park, August 23 Process

Blamed, overhaul, released, cries out, faced, failed

Blamed, accused, damaged, released, lamented, killed, said, denied


Two months ago, in front of TV cameras

For last month’s bungled hostage rescue, at a historic Manila park, on live TV, on Aug. 23

Difference between news 1 and 2 is in their tenor. They are extracted from South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and Philippine Star in the Philippines respectively, both of which are one of the major English newspapers in their origins. Consequently, news 1 targets at audience in Hong Kong and the addressee of new 2 are Philippine readers. The different attitude of the tenor leads to a difference in stance of the articles. In fact, this is related to the difference in genre of the texts. The genre, a stage goal socially oriented process, of news 1 is Exposition while that of news 2 is Discussion. This verifies that “genre

is realized by configurations of register. Register is realized by configurations of meaning in language” (Martin & Rose 2008).

Holding up a mirror to a broken country

This is an argumentative media text with the goals of expressing Hong Kong people’s discontent towards the mishandling of the crisis and persuading readers with the revealed problems of Manila. This influences the choice of linguistic features analyzed as follows.

First of all, he headline already showed blame towards Philippine. ‘Holding up a mirror’ is a metaphor, meaning giving someone reflections and letting oneself know his own problem(s). The ‘country’, Philippine, was described as ‘broken’, meaning weak and problematic. To gain readers’ attention and be persuasive, the writer stated here clearly his stance that Philippine should learn a lesson from the incident by noticing and tackling her internal problems.

In order to draw readers’ alignment, at the beginning of the article, Hong Kong people’s negative affect, such as ‘anger, frustration and sadness’ was mentioned. Graduations, such as ‘all of’ and ‘a frenzy of’, were also used to enhance the persuasiveness.

In addition to ‘broken’ in the headline, there were many negative appreciations of the botched rescue throughout the text. For example, ‘needless’ (line 3) casualties were resulted from ‘mistakes’ (line 12) in the ‘mishandling’ (line 14) of the incident made by Philippine officers. The writer believed, instead of the gunman, the ‘culpable’ (line 19) Philippine society was the one to bear the responsibility of causing this tragedy. This

position was also supported by the use of many negative judgments towards various Philippine parties, including police with ‘competence’ (line 44) but ‘insubordination’ (line 23), ‘heartless’ (line 35) officials without ‘care’ (line 44) but ‘aggravating vigilantism’ (line 24), and ‘reckless’ (line 25) media people without ‘conscience’ (line44) but ‘irresponsibility’. These elements tell Hong Kong readers that a lot of problems do exist in the Philippines as discovered after the incident.

Although Mendoza’s action was described with negative appreciation, ‘murderous and insane’ (line 23), the writer thought that he was just a ‘ordinary and simple’ man (positive judgment in line 40) who became a ‘disgruntled’, ‘angry and frustrated’ (negative affect in lines 4 and 8) ‘victim’ under the ‘injustice and oppression’ (negative appreciation of the Philippine government in line 7) from local authorities. Therefore, he was just an ‘instrument’ (a metaphor in line 45) in the killing of hostages; the problematic Philippine government was the one which actually should be blamed.

The writer also suggested that the problems Mendoza faced were not rare in the Philippines, but it would be too absolute to say ‘Mendoza himself is Everyman’ and thus a projection ‘seems to be’ (line 21) was used to provide flexibility. Yet, the writer used ‘indeed’ for higher modality and ‘so’ for increasing graduation to highlight how common injustice and oppression were in Philippine society.

Meanwhile, the arguments were conveyed with the help of different modalities. The high modality ‘will’ and graduation ‘just’ (line 54) emphasized both the country’s security forces and other social policies had to be overhauled. The modality ‘may’, together with a conditional conjunction ‘if’ plus a negative polarity ‘not’ (line 28) and a marked Theme ‘at some point in time’ (line 31), introduced the possibility of another similar crisis if the

government did not deal with her ill-practices. Frequent use of simple present and simple past tenses (e.g. lines 2, 12, 17, 27, 35, 39 and 57) also made the text sound factual and more convincible.

The use of graduation and polarity is an effective resource to make the text more persuasive. ‘Plenty of’, ‘serious’ and ‘all’ (paragraph three), ‘entire’ (line 16) and ‘only’ (line 43), emphasizes the failure and blame of the Philippines. ‘Only’ in line 45 explained why ‘the sympathy for Mendoza is manifest’ (line 29) and implied the responsibility of the local authorities. ‘No attempt to shift the blame’ (negative polarity in line 17) accused the Philippine government explicitly in a confirmative tone.

Conjunctions were used to provide the arguments with the writer’s reasoning (‘because’ in line 40) and to emphasize important information, such as ‘but’ was used to highlight the flaws of the government (lines 41 and 43), the seriousness of the consequence (line 32) and the urge for improvement (line 54).

Projection of the report conducted by a ‘fact-finding’ (positive appreciation in line 6) committee could be seen throughout the text in paragraphs 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 11. By introducing the credible source of information, the arguments sounded research-based and objective, hence more reliable and believable. The run-on sentences or structures in paragraphs 5, 7 and 10 also contributed to convince the audience of the truth of the writer’s viewpoints.

Apart from the above linguistic devices that enhanced the persuasiveness, the generic structure also reveals the aim of this argumentative article with Exposition as the genre. The first two paragraphs, stating the incident and the resultant report, were the

Orientation. The third paragraph is the Thesis, pointing out that weakness of the Philippines had been exhibited and needed to be tackled. The following paragraphs were the Arguments and the last two were the Conclusion, urging the Philippine government to action and projecting the writer’s hope in the improvement. A prosody of blaming was created in the texts as a reflection of the dissatisfaction of the general public in Hong Kong where the news was published.

Report limits blame over Manila hostage crisis With Discussion as the genre, this media text aims at surveying the results and different opinions on the report of the hostage crisis. The resultant choice of linguistic features is studied in the following.

Unlike new 1, the headline here carried no stand point as it was just a statement describing the results of the report. On top of that, there was no personal view of the writer in the following paragraphs.

Negative appreciations and judgments did occur in the text, but they were used in a sense of reporting the general beliefs and results of the report. For instance, it was a shared view of most people that some Philippine officials involved should be ‘blamed’ (line 3), ‘alleged’ (line 8) and face ‘complaints’ (line 7) for their ‘blunders’ (line 8) which caused the ‘bungled’ (line 4), ‘daylong’ (line 8) and ‘botched’ (line 12) rescue. The judgment of Mendoza as ‘lone’ and ‘dismissed (line 20) was the truth. The appreciation of the incident that ‘damaged’ relations between the Philippines, China and Hong Kong (line 24) was factual since Hong Kong did issued a black warning alert to refrain her residents from visiting the Philippines because of the outbreak of the crisis.

Objectivityďƒ attitude, graduation, heteroglossia, hv stance Prosody Conclusion

Reference Harvey, D. (1989). Time-space compression and the postmodern condition. The Condition of Postmodernity, Oxford: Blackwell . Knox, J. S. (2007). Visual-verbal communication on online newspaper home pages. Visual Communication, 6 (1), 19-53. Martin, J.R. (2001). Language, Register and Genres in Burns, A. and Coffin, C. Analysing English in a global context. London: Routledge. Martin, J.R. and Rose, D. (2008). Genre Relations: Mapping Culture. London: Conanuum.

Appendix I - news 1 South China Morning Post EDT15 | EDT | By Frank Ching 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Holding up a mirror to a broken country Two months ago, all of Hong Kong was caught up in a frenzy of anger, frustration and sadness stemming from the needless deaths of eight tourists and the wounding of seven others at the hands of a disgruntled former police officer in Manila who wanted his job back. We now know from the report of the fact-finding committee appointed by Philippine President Benigno Aquino that Rolando Mendoza felt he was a victim of injustice and oppression. He was angry and frustrated that the Ombudsman's office for nine months ignored his repeated motions for reconsideration of his dismissal, violating its own rules of procedure. The report makes it clear that there is plenty of blame to go around. Serious mistakes were made by the mayor, the vice-mayor, top police officers, the negotiator, the assault team

14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

leader - virtually all those involved in handling, or mishandling, the hostage crisis.

22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

oppression done against him, so common in Philippine society, it says, cornered and forced to a murderous and insane mission, the incompetence and insubordination of a police commander, the aggravating vigilantism of a politician, the disregard for the proper use of a crisis system by the crisis responders, the reckless irresponsibility of media people.

31 32 33

At some point in time, an oppressed Filipino crying out for justice may again snap and seize [people], in exchange for justice without him having to pay any amount ... but at the cost of human lives.

The entire report of the committee, headed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, has been released and makes fascinating, sometimes poignant, reading. It makes no attempt to shift the blame. Looking unblinkingly at the whole sequence of events from Mendoza's dismissal, it finds Philippine society itself was culpable; the incident shows the nation in microcosm. Indeed, Mendoza himself seems to be Everyman: A man with a perceived injustice and

This is a description of a broken society. And yet, as the committee says: These are our own ghosts that we should now face squarely if we are not to repeat August 23, 2010. This is our society, this is our culture, these are Filipinos at their worst, the report cries out.

34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42

For in truth, justice has become a commodity in this country, with no less than heartless bureaucrats in charge of its dispensation on the condition that they are paid to give what is already owed to a man, even to the shameless extent of asking it from a lowly policeman. The sympathy for Mendoza is manifest. This is our society, the report says. It drives otherwise ordinary and simple men to turn into murdering monsters at a snap. Because they feel oppressed and need justice but are asked for money.

43 44 45 46 47

They ask for redemption but are faced only with extortion. Officials without shame, policemen without competence, politicians without care, reporters without conscience, a nation without luck. Mendoza was only the instrument in the murder of eight innocent human beings.

48 49 50 51

The report concluded with words of pure poetry: In this investigation, this committee looked into the hostage-taking incident and ended up looking into the nation's soul, and find that we are all equally guilty of pulling the trigger of the gunman. This is our country seen through a mirror, and that mirror was Rizal Park, August 23, 2010.

52 53 54 55 56 57 58

Aquino said his administration would strengthen its ability to respond to future crises. Judging by the report, he will need not just to overhaul the country's security forces, but to transform its society as well. Like Hong Kong, the Philippines has undergone a catharsis. Let us hope that both societies emerge the better for it.

Appendix II – news 2 1 Report limits blame over Manila hostage crisis 2

( Updated September 22, 2010 07:04 PM Comments (6)

3 4

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Only one of eight government and police officials blamed for last

5 6 7 8 9

criminal charges, according to a government report seen today by The Associated Press.

10 11 12

a future investigation substantiates them.

13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

resign Wednesday.

22 23

watched by millions on live TV.

24 25 26 27 28 29 30

The incident damaged ties with China and Hong Kong, which warned against travel to the

31 32 33

much of that blame on Lim and Manila Police Chief Rodolfo Magtibay, saying they had failed to

month's bungled hostage rescue in Manila that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead should face

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim should immediately face administrative and criminal complaints for alleged blunders that caused the daylong hostage standoff on Aug. 23 to degenerate into a bloody end, said a report by a fact-finding committee. Seven other officials should not face charges unless

Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, the highest official blamed for the botched rescue, offered to

Puno, who helped oversee the blunder-ridden rescue, said he will submit his resignation letter when President Benigno Aquino III returns from a US trip next week.

"If I'll be a burden to the president, I'm willing to resign," Puno told a news conference.

The bungled rescue attempt left eight Hong Kong tourists and the lone hostage-taker — dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza — dead on a bus parked at a historic Manila park in a standoff

Philippines, prompting thousands of tourists to cancel bookings.

It sparked Aquino's first major crisis, less than two months into his presidency.

Aquino on Monday ordered a fact-finding report to be released to China and the public, but withheld release of a crucial section — seen Wednesday by The Associated Press — that placed

perform their roles in overseeing the crisis.

34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42

Among other lapses, Lim and Magtibay left the scene for a restaurant before the hostage-taker

43 44 45 46 47

he defended himself and the police in front of TV cameras, reminding the public of the risk that law

48 49 50

report said. The radio station's manager and staff may also face complaints, as could the country's

51 52

All eight hostages were killed by Mendoza, the report said, noting that more tests were needed to

started shooting the hostages. Magtibay allegedly defied Aquino's order to deploy an elite police commando team but instead used a local SWAT team, the report said. It was not immediately clear why charges were not recommended against Magtibay. He was replaced by another officer during the standoff and subsequently lost his job as police chief.

The report lamented a plethora of errors that "conspired to produce the tipping point."

Lim, himself a former Manila police chief, has angrily denied the allegations. On the verge of tears,

enforcement officers face while in the line of duty.

Two radio journalists accused of tying up the hostage-taker's telephone line by interviewing him during the standoff may face complaints for not adhering to ethical rules in covering the crisis, the

three major TV networks, which aired the crisis live.

verify if police gunfire hit some of the victims. Another seven Hong Kongers were wounded.

Comparison of 2 news of the Manila tragedy  

Course: Fundamental for the Media

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