EIRP Proceedings, Vol 13 (2018)

Forms of Influencing Young

People through Media Discourse

Oana Drăgănescu1

Abstract: In the modern age, conquered by the phenomena of globalization, mass media have become more and more significant for the lives of individuals who are building their horizons of representation under different influences, both internal and external. In accordance with their individuality, with the specificity of their social group or with the dominant features of the reference group, with the help of information and messages promoted by the media, individuals relate to the society in which they live.

Keywords: media discourse; mass-media; agenda-setting theory; social representations

Media products create and sensitize audiences, form and change opinions, attitudes and behaviors. People act and react by virtue of what is relevant and important to them by the media, acting as an agenda2, satisfying their social and spiritual needs. Media or mass media messages considered as “products” are carriers (and not just simple supports) of social representations3, socio-cultural trends, ways and lifestyles so that we can conclude that the media influence opinions, behaviors, attitudes, social practices, and young people are a social category for which media messages and products come to have ever more consistent values and meanings. Social representations give the elements of the world a precise form, locate them in a given category and gradually impose them on a certain type, distinct and shared by a group of people. All new elements adhere to the model and merge with it. The representation is social insofar as it contributes to the formation of conduct and the orientation of social communication (Neculau, 1996, p. 37).

Media discourses induce thematic issues (the agenda-setting theory metaforically elope the organization of the concerns - “what to reflect, and less to interpret”) (Rovenţa-Frumuşani, 2004, p. 120), operating as a coherent social narrative. Hence the hypothesis that the younger they are, the more frequent s use of media content of a certain gender (political information, for example), the more preferred media discourses influence their attitudes, opinions, behaviors and social representations.

The concept of discourse has many and various definitions and meanings. We take the premise that the discourses are social practices, so that any speech has a situational dimension, updates a series of conventions and social mechanisms (Beciu, 2007, p. 31). In the sense of Norman Fairclough, “any speech indicates the perspective of a social actor who builds his identity towards his interlocutors; the perspective of a social actor communicating in a certain type of situation and in a particular public culture - so the social actor uses language as well as other communication resources as elements of social life” (Fairclough, 2003, p. 125).

The discourse highlights the ways in which a social actor uses language in a social situation characterized by social practices, values, norms, routines so that by using a certain type of language (administrative, scientific, conversational), but also by non-verbal language, a discourse can formulate a certain point of view or a position about what is being communicated (Beciu, 2009, pp. 33-34). From this point of view, the discourse can be considered as a grid for reading and interpreting some situations. The use of discourse concept refers to a “discursive field (didactic speech versus daily discourse), a category of locators (speech by trade unions, left-wing intellectuals), a function of language (prescriptive versus polemic speech)” Rovenţa-Frumuşani, 2004, p. 71).

From the semio-discursive perspective, a discourse results from the fact that the social actor uses a certain way of enunciation that refers to certain socio-cultural conditions appropriate to that communication situation, so that “any discourse is established at the intersection of a field of action - a place of symbolic interactions organized according to the forces' relations (Bourdieu) - and an enunciation field in which the mechanisms of staging the language” (Charaudeau, 2005 apud Beciu, 2007, p. 32).

Journalistic discourse can not only be content to report the facts, its role is also to explain, in order to illuminate the citizen. Hence a discursive activity consisting of proposing a series of questions to elucidate different positions. Once more, the play of credibility requires that the enlightening journalist explain without spirit a partisan and without influencing the public at his own will.

The journalistic discourse is presented in opposition to the historical narrative, the scholarly explanation (scientific discourse) and the political (or persuasive) discourse. Thus, history, being a discipline that, by its technique of gathering data into archives, by its critical method and by its interpretative principles, reports events in the past, proposing an explanatory view. The journalistic discourse, confronted with the idea of reporting events that will occur, does not lend itself to such a method. Thus, the time of history is not the same as the time of the media - actuality, therefore present, “here and now”.

As the journalistic discourse can take the form of comments, it produces a speech of analysis and explanation. But this is not the same as a scholarly (scientific) speech. The scholarly speech has this dual feature of being demonstrative and open to discussion. The journalistic discourse, unlike the scientific one, cannot refer to any theoretical explanation, it does not follow any particular method, and it does not work with any concept. That is why the journalistic explanatory speech is in the form of an assertion. Thus, a journalistic debate cannot resemble to a scientific colloquy.

In contrast to persuasive discourse, journalistic discourse is subject to certain media conditions. The political discourse aims, through the political subject, at persuading the citizen of the benefits of his action project or his political action. For this, he uses discourse strategies of credibility, attraction of attention to build an indisputable leader image, seducing his audience to make them adhere to his policy. In contrast to this, the journalistic discourse is subject to an information vision, so that the position of the one who discloses is the same in these two cases. The political disclose must build an ethos of conviction, authority, power, seduction. The disclose journalist should not be preoccupied with credibility in the eyes of his lecturers, building an ethos of knowledge.

Charaudeau emphasizes the idea of topicality and over-current that completes the media discourse. Thus, two discursive processes transform the eventuality of actuality, producing deforming effects. It is about “focusing”, which is to bring an event in front of the stage, through newspaper headlines, by announcements at the beginning of the TV news journals, producing an “increase”, augmentation, coming into forefront at any cost.

Another dimension of the media discourse, dramatization, is dealt with by Charaudeau, for which this is a process of discursive strategy, that consists in reaching the recipient's affection. Since Aristotelian rhetoric, many papers have dealt with emotions so there is no need to justify this strategy. However, we find a particular case of redundant dramatization in the media stage of world news, that of the triad victim / aggressor / savior. From here, the three types of speech: victimization, portrait of the enemy, heroism. All these are obtained by a technique that Charaudeau calls “amalgam”, defining it as an analogous abusive process: two events, two facts, two phenomena are approached without any distance that would allow this comparison to have an explanatory effect.

Charaudeau's findings in this study point to the position of the enunciating journalist, which should not be evaluated only by one of the possibilities and strategies of the enunciation he uses. This position is not always manifested in an explicit manner. It depends on a set of discursive procedures (descriptive, narrative, argumentative) and a set of words that are revealing for its journalistic discourse. The journalist must produce meanings through his media discourses, using various appropriate communication methods, using language practices that fit the communication situation, so that it should be seen behind the enunciator’s mask, the discursive positioning.

The journalistic discourse creates media sensitivities and specific communication situations, which are based on a logic and media practice, converging to the idea of actuality, “here and now”, of facts and events that must be staged for the public wishes to be constantly informed, unlike other types of discourse, in which the enunciating court wishes either to seduce the audience (political discourse) or to demonstrate a theory, using its own language (scientific discourse), or to bring into current facts and past events, kept in the archives of history (historical story discourse).

Media speeches are based on articulated enunciation and interaction styles that make up the “media communication contract”, unlike the other types of discourse presented by Charaudeau in his study.

The media is an important actor of the public space that actively participates in the symbolic building of issues of public interest. Journalists, by resorting to various discursive strategies, are the ones who give relevance to events, themes, problems for their community. Mass media are those who, under the aging set-up theory, have been able to impose issues of general interest to the public, which we must know at that moment, the problems that are discussed at that time so that our daily agenda is organized on social concerns.

The media discourse operates as a social narrative that updates specific mediation phenomena, such as linguistic transposition operations (schematization, selection, determination, modulation), a mediating court (witness, expert, moderator, politician etc.) communicative intentionality (argumentation, explanation, clarification, narration, etc.) (Soulages, 1999 apud Roventa-Frumuşani, 2004, p. 120).

For Charaudeau4, media discourse is part of a composite production court, which includes various actors, each with well-defined roles. At the same time, this court is defined globally by five types of roles that are embedded in each other: a) the person seeking the information, which may be field correspondents, special dispatches, etc.; b) the person providing the information, selecting them according to the journalistic criteria; c) the person transmitting the information; d) who comments on the information, producing an explanatory media discourse, trying to establish cause and effect relationships between events; e) the one that provokes debates aimed at confronting views of different social actors.

Media speeches imply a positioning of events, being used as a public agenda, through the sources they use, serve the public's general interest in having access to information of public interest through all mass-media products and media. There is thus a convergence of media (television plus written press in the various iconic newspapers) as well as the intertextuality of the media (written press debate on topics in television news stories) so we can talk about “a centrality of media discourses “(Roventa-Frumuşani, 2004, p. 123).

Young people find in the media discourses promoted by the media products the models and values they adopt in everyday life, the influences of these messages being found in their behavior and in their social and group activities. Their attitudes, opinions, social representations are no longer in connection with those practiced by the family environment, its role is taken by media messages promoting values and lifestyle styles.

The psychological identity of young people, especially adolescents, is based on their own leisure choices, of consumed products, so that by this freedom of choice, self-esteem is created and maintained. Media discourses influence the opinions, attitudes, behaviors, and social representations of this category through graphic content and presentations, and imposes models to succeed in achieving success.


In our opinion, any journalistic discourse, as a form of media discourse, is a combination of several types of discourse. It is also possible to use the characteristics of the historical discourse, bringing to the public, at present, facts, events and personalities removed from the archives of history, but also to seduce the public lecturer, borrow from political discourse techniques, just as it can present different events and scientific discoveries, and then it will have to resort to the rigorous character of the scholarly discourse. Media discourses are heterogeneous forms of communication, which relate both to the logic of profit and to the logic of ethics, and the main purpose is informing the citizen.


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1 M.E.D.I.A. Director, “Danubius” University of Galati, Faculty of Communication and International Relations, Romania, Address: 3 Galati Boulevard, 800654 Galati, Romania, Tel.: +40.372.361.102, fax: +40.372.361.290, Corresponding author: draganescu.oana@univ-danubius.ro

2 Agenda Theory represents the ability of the media to mentally organize and arrange the world for us, in other words, to produce macro-effects. By listing macro-models, agenda-setting shifts focus on micro-effects, long-term effects and indirect effects, as well as cognitive effects that describe the influences on information selection, perception, and memorization. The theoretical statement of the model belongs to the famous American jurist Walter Lippman who, in 1922, in the chapter entitled “The World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads” in his famous work Public Opinion, referred to the postulation of a relationship between the media agenda and the public agenda. (Coman, 1999, pp. 106-107)

3 The theory was launched by Serge Moscovici in 1961, by re-evaluating the Durkheimian concept of collective representation. Emphasizing the complex and systemic nature of social representation, Moscovici defines it as a structured set of values, notions and practices related to the object, aspects or dimensions of the social environment, which allows the individual to adapt to society, directing behavior and communication, selecting responses to environmental stimuli and so on. The social representations are not just attitudes, opinions or images, but also the theories or collective sciences, generis to interpret and rule the surrounding world. Moreover, they also propose a reconstruction of the real, a remodeling of the environment, both natural and social (Moscovici, 1961, 1969, 1976). Occupational Stress and Social Representations ... (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308747204_STRES_OCUPATIONAL_SI_REPREZENTARI_SOCIALE_ALE_MUNCII_IN_MEDIUL_UNIVERSITAR_1 [accessed May 13, 2018]. (Neculau, Zaharia & Curelaru, 2007, pp. 49-68).

4 www.patrick-charaudeau.com, accessed on 11.09.2011.


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