Reporting war: Grammar as 'covert operation'

  • Annabelle Lukin
  • David Butt
  • Christian Matthiessen
Keywords: war reporting, grammar


While it is often said that 'truth is the first casualty of war', this aphorism covers only one feature of how wars are reported, namely the deliberate use of misinformation by parties to a war. But language is by its nature a higly plastic resource: there is never just one way to report a set of events, even when the 'facts' may be uncontested. Drawing on data from newspaper reports and media briefings of the recent war in Iraq, we illustarte some of the basic grammtical systems which underlie the choice a journalist has to make, particularly in reporting 'high impact' events of the war. Using a functional apporach to grammar—where grammar is seen not as rules but as a theory of reality— we introduce some basic grammatical concepts or undertsanding the idelogical impact if different gramatical choices in contruing the events of war. 


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How to Cite
Lukin, A., Butt, D., & Matthiessen, C. (2004). Reporting war: Grammar as ’covert operation’. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 10(1), 58-74.