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Volume 1 Number 1, Spring 2004, Pages 1-403   

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News Discourse and Its Influence on Readers

    Kumiko Murata

This paper investigates the ways in which readers interpret a news editorial on the basis of cultural assumptions formulated partly under the influence of the media they are associated with. For this investigation, questionnaires (English and Japanese versions) on the discourse of whaling were administered to 30 Japanese postgraduate students and 30 British, European and North American academics, researchers and teachers. In addition, seven EFL students also participated in filling in the questionnaire. The result shows that in the case of the English version, the majority of the non-Japanese respondents were anti-whaling, while most of the Japanese version respondents (Japanese) were either neutral or pro-whaling. This is clearly reflected in their interpretation of the text. The English respondents overwhelmingly supported the editor's anti-whaling stance despite pointing out the excessive use of emotive language. By contrast, most of the Japanese respondents showed strong disagreement with the editor's attitude, pointing out the lack of evidence and information. Although the result does not necessarily show that this single editorial had a direct influence on the respondents, there are nonetheless some indications of the ways in which na?ve readers could be influenced by the media. Finally, the paper discusses implications of this study for language pedagogy.