The representation of Bersih 4.0 and Red Shirt Rallies in a Malaysian newspaper: A comparative analysis

Noor Aqsa Nabila Mat Isa


This study examines the representation of actors and their actions in the news reports by the New Straits Times (NST) about pro-governmental and oppositional rallies in Malaysia, namely the Red Shirt and Bersih 4.0 rallies, respectively in order to find out whether there is a neutral stance in the reporting of these events. To analyse the data, Reisigl and Wodak’s (2016) discourse-historical approach (DHA) to critical discourse studies (CDS) has been employed. Specifically, the study looks at how the NST label and describe the actors involved in the reports, as well as their actions during the rallies through nomination and predication strategies as listed in the DHA. Based on the analysis, there is evidence of both groups of actors being depicted as the outgroups. However, the actors involved in the Red Shirt rally have been attributed mostly positively as opposed to their opponents. Interestingly, when the Red Shirt rally-goers were described negatively, this was countered with negative attributes of the Bersih rally-goers who have been described to be worse than them, and this might work to overshadow their own downsides. Based on the findings, it is evident that the NST seem to have constructed their reports in favour of the then-ruling party which was the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition government.

Keywords: Bersih 4.0, critical discourse studies, discourse historical approach, discursive strategies, Red Shirt rally, representation of actors

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