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Understanding News by John Hartley

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4  THOSE WHO THREATEN DISORDER

Preferred readings and ideological closure

In the daily routine of newsmaking, the ideological determinants of news-discourse gain practical expression. What happens is that the multi-accentual ‘potential for meaning’ of the chosen signs (verbal and visual), and their capacity for connotation and myth, are filled in until the signs are ‘closed’, apparently uni-accentual.

In order to effect ideological closure, the event is put together with signs that indicate how it should be understood – what it ‘means’. There is, in other words, a ‘preferred reading’ (Hall 1977, pp. 341 ff.) encoded into the way a story is told. To dig out the preferred reading whilst watching the news can sometimes be hard, in the sense that ...

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