Publication Details

Scott, C. (2008). Reporting Armistice: Authorial and non-authorial voices in The Sydney Morning Herald 1902-2003. In C. Wu, C. MIM. Matthiessen & M. Herke (Eds.), Proceedings of ISFC 35: Voices Around the World (pp. 131-136). Sydney: The 35th ISFC Organizing Committee.


Media discourse is dialogic in nature (cf. Bakhtin, 1981; Zelizer, 1989), frequently including information or opinions sourced from beyond the reporter (e.g. Fairclough, 1995; Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004: 252; Waugh, 1995). The way reporters include other voices in the dialogue, as well as the range of meanings permitted in the dialogue, are crucial factors in the issue of ‘grounding’ news reports (Carey, 1986; Waugh, 1995: 132). This paper presents findings from an analysis of non-authorial sourcing in armistice reports from the Sydney Morning Herald over a century (1902-2003), and considers how the uptake of resources for attributing this kind of information has changed in relation to changes in context, particularly technological and institutional context. A downward shift in the degree to which authorial responsibility is articulated and circumscribed seems to coincide with increasingly advanced and diverse technology for gathering and disseminating news. This suggests that advancements in technology do not necessarily lead to more accurate, balanced or grounded reporting, even when the technology potentially makes available a much greater range of information sources. Findings such as this have implications for understanding the changing character of news as a product of changing production processes, and for understanding the social purpose of news as a dynamic, changing social activity.