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Violence and Peace in the Print Media: News Discourse and Social Construction of Reality in Colombia
Unformatted Document Text:  For a more complete interpretation of results, contents related to peace and violence made visible in the macrostructure were integrated into a single table. It was found that 38% of news discourses had a greater focus on peace, although a decrease in 12 points was present from 1999 with 45% to 2001 with 33%. By contrast, discourse with a greater focus on violence increased from 44% in 1999, to 53% in 2001, with an average of 49%. This shows that the press discourse has hardened over time. Contrary to what could be thought about the components of the macrostructure of journalistic texts, it is clear that “headlines are something else than a set of initial phrases above an information and written in bold types” 13 . This is especially relevant in the context of the Colombian armed conflict due to the need for more thinking about the construction of this part of the discourse. In Van Dijk’s words, “this important role of headlines can be explained in-deoth in psychological terms. It has been shown that for the comprehension of a text, language users have to use semantic macrostructures” 14 . It could be argued that the coverage of the Colombian armed conflict is based on the elements that traditionally have served as the basis for coverage of other topics –sports, general news, etc. However, the complexity of this conflict requires a different approach. Social construction of reality and the superficiality of the conflict Results of the analysis of the microstructure or body of the discourse revealed that the reader is perhaps given perhaps insufficient information needed to orientate him/herself and to assess the different dimensions and implications of the conflict both politically and socially. This may strengthen the potential negative effects of messages on audiences and contribute to the permanence of a symbolic universe of fear in the population. News discourse, generally, did not associate the present news event to others in the close or remote traditions of Colombian society. Neither did they make use of intratextual elements, such as additional information to illustrate readers and to facilitate greater comprehension of the phenomenon under discussion. It is important to note the difference found in this research with respect to the visibility of actors in different components of the journalistic text. While in the macrostructure –the part of the discourse that remains in memory in a sharper way- insurgent groups have a greater presence, other social actors such as the civil society, the government and the armed forces have greater presence in the microstructure. Taking into account that in the hierarchical order of journalistic discourses the most important elements appear in first place, it could be inferred that for the press, the negative, violent or terrorist actions –that are generally carried out, at least in news accounts, by insurgents- have greater relevance. The significant visibility of the insurgent groups in the macrostructure and their important presence in the microstructure, show the value that this presence in mass media has as a war strategy. Germán Rey, in his story about the case of Las Delicias, points out that “for the guerrilla, the visibility gives them identity, recognition of the situation, safety and a 13 VAN DIJK, Teun. Racismo y Análisis Crítico de los Medios. Op. Cit., p. 131. 14 Ibid., p.133.

Authors: Obregon, Rafael. and Cura, Marta.
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For a more complete interpretation of results, contents related to peace and violence made
visible in the macrostructure were integrated into a single table. It was found that 38% of
news discourses had a greater focus on peace, although a decrease in 12 points was
present from 1999 with 45% to 2001 with 33%. By contrast, discourse with a greater
focus on violence increased from 44% in 1999, to 53% in 2001, with an average of 49%.
This shows that the press discourse has hardened over time. Contrary to what could be
thought about the components of the macrostructure of journalistic texts, it is clear that
“headlines are something else than a set of initial phrases above an information and
written in bold types”
13
. This is especially relevant in the context of the Colombian armed
conflict due to the need for more thinking about the construction of this part of the
discourse. In Van Dijk’s words, “this important role of headlines can be explained in-
deoth in psychological terms. It has been shown that for the comprehension of a text,
language users have to use semantic macrostructures”
14
. It could be argued that the
coverage of the Colombian armed conflict is based on the elements that traditionally have
served as the basis for coverage of other topics –sports, general news, etc. However, the
complexity of this conflict requires a different approach.

Social construction of reality and the superficiality of the conflict
Results of the analysis of the microstructure or body of the discourse revealed that the
reader is perhaps given perhaps insufficient information needed to orientate him/herself
and to assess the different dimensions and implications of the conflict both politically and
socially. This may strengthen the potential negative effects of messages on audiences and
contribute to the permanence of a symbolic universe of fear in the population. News
discourse, generally, did not associate the present news event to others in the close or
remote traditions of Colombian society. Neither did they make use of intratextual
elements, such as additional information to illustrate readers and to facilitate greater
comprehension of the phenomenon under discussion.

It is important to note the difference found in this research with respect to the visibility of
actors in different components of the journalistic text. While in the macrostructure –the
part of the discourse that remains in memory in a sharper way- insurgent groups have a
greater presence, other social actors such as the civil society, the government and the
armed forces have greater presence in the microstructure. Taking into account that in the
hierarchical order of journalistic discourses the most important elements appear in first
place, it could be inferred that for the press, the negative, violent or terrorist actions –that
are generally carried out, at least in news accounts, by insurgents- have greater relevance.
The significant visibility of the insurgent groups in the macrostructure and their important
presence in the microstructure, show the value that this presence in mass media has as a
war strategy. Germán Rey, in his story about the case of Las Delicias, points out that “for
the guerrilla, the visibility gives them identity, recognition of the situation, safety and a
13
VAN DIJK, Teun. Racismo y Análisis Crítico de los Medios. Op. Cit., p. 131.
14
Ibid., p.133.


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