My possibility of various linguistic ways to achieve

My
analysis examined the use of reported speech as an intertextual strategy to
re-voice prior discourse. I first examined how the state-run newspaper utilized
the government’s jargon to describe women activists and report the driving
campaign. I showed how the state-run newspaper, al-Riyadh, utilizes referring terms to frame the driving campaign
as a political upheaval, evoking prior descriptions of threatening terrorism
organizations. This association reinforces the negative consequences of women
driving among the general public and implies a cautionary metamessage (Bateson,
1972). On the other hand, the independent newspaper showed more agency in
paraphrasing the spokesman’s statement and using alternative referring terms to
describe women activists, which were marked with the feminine suffixes. I then
examined instances of reported speech, which become a fundamental discursive
method through which the newspapers appropriate authority, while engaging
readers with the speakers’ perspectives on women driving. By comparing the
representation of speech in the two newspapers, I highlight the possibility of
various linguistic ways to achieve media reportage while reflecting editorial
orientation.

My
study contributes to sociolinguistic theory by showing the interactional and
ideological capacity of referring terms and reported speech in Arabic media
discourse. The utility of taking an intertextual approach to the study of
referring terms describing women in Saudi Arabia newspapers lies not only in
the explanatory power to understand how women are (un)represented in government
affiliated media, it also illuminates our understanding of how larger societal
issues are contextualized via public discourse to serve specific ideologies and
influence private domains of social practice. Bakhtin’s (1981) notions of
dialogicity and intertextuality construct the basis of my examination of such
discursive ways by which the two newspapers cover the driving campaign. A
central idea of dialogicity is that all written or spoken communication is a
response to prior discourse and an anticipation of what will come afterwards
(Bakhtin, 1981; Voloshinov, 1986).  The
type of discourse used to cover the same event and reference the same social
group varied widely based on the publications’ sociopolitical affiliations.

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Taking
an intertextual approach to Arabic media discourse demonstrates how
state-censored newspapers construct and propagate their agenda, while
independent newspapers, by its inclusion of various voices and its alteration
in reporting style,  have pushed the boundaries
of what is permissible by emphasizing women and their rights. My study
demonstrates how certain discursive strategies were used by Arabic print media
in reaction to socio-political upheavals demanding change in the Arab World. It
also attempts to gain a better understanding of the formation of public
opinions through examining the type of discourse the public is exposed to. The
referring terms and reported speech methods used in media discourse are
resources of indexical meaning, and their use induces specific cultural and
political associations. When the public is repeatedly exposed to words such as
“instigators” and “conspiracy” to describe women and the driving campaign, we
start to understand the basis of the overwhelming antagonistic position towards
women driving among the general public. Such negative stereotyping of women is
further strengthened when these terms are used by a governmental authority
whose voice has higher credibility and value. Understanding the prior texts
that are triggered in the minds of readers enlightens our understanding of the
cultural and political justifications of the driving prohibition and how women
and their roles are subverted in public discourse.