Attitudinal Positioning and Journalistic Commentary in Politically Fraught Circumstances: Editorializing About the Killing of Osama bin Laden

Document Type : Research Article


School of Arts and Media, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia



This study explores the strategic use of resources for conveying attitudinal assessments by journalists when their communicative options are seriously curtailed—when there are severe social, legal, or political constraints on what they can say about powerful people and institutions. It offers, by way of a case study, an analysis of editorials published in two Pakistani English-language newspapers the day after the US forces covertly entered Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden. Whereas these actions raised serious questions about the prior conduct of the Pakistani military and intelligence services, the journalists were prevented by strict legal prohibitions from any overt criticism. Through an appraisal-framework analysis, this study describes the ‘oblique’ attitudinal style used in the two editorials to advance cases which position readers to view those involved in an extremely negative light.


Volume 12, Issue 2
Theme Issue: Systemic Functional Linguistics and Appraisal Analysis: Recent Contributions to English Language Research
September 2021
Pages 89-102