The strategic issues of journalistic lexicon when reporting on victims of the Colombia armed conflict

Yeny Serrano


Based on previous research which demonstrated that media plays a role in war as well as in peace-building, and that words used by journalists and their sources are directly linked to the interests they defend, this study seeks to examine the tension between professional journalists' guidelines and the discursive strategies of (armed) sources. For this purpose, qualitative observations were required to determine the subtle ways in which news reports are biased. More specifically, this paper analyzes the strategic issues associated with the ways in which journalists label the combatants and politicians being deprived of their freedom by guerillas, which demonstrate a detached discursive positioning[1] that can itself become an instrument of war.

[1] The notion of ‘discursive positioning’ refers to the way in which journalists report news in relation to the version provided by sources and the linguistic tools reporters use in news to indicate whether or not they adhere to the sources’ version of events. These tools include for instance the reported speech of sources and mentioning different and opposing sources.


Colombian Journalism; Colombian Press; Colombian Media; legitimization, labeling, journalistic bias, Colombia

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Journal of Latin American Communication Research - 2014