Myanalysis examined the use of reported speech as an intertextual strategy tore-voice prior discourse.
I first examined how the state-run newspaper utilizedthe government’s jargon to describe women activists and report the drivingcampaign. I showed how the state-run newspaper, al-Riyadh, utilizes referring terms to frame the driving campaignas a political upheaval, evoking prior descriptions of threatening terrorismorganizations. This association reinforces the negative consequences of womendriving among the general public and implies a cautionary metamessage (Bateson,1972). On the other hand, the independent newspaper showed more agency inparaphrasing the spokesman’s statement and using alternative referring terms todescribe women activists, which were marked with the feminine suffixes. I thenexamined instances of reported speech, which become a fundamental discursivemethod through which the newspapers appropriate authority, while engagingreaders with the speakers’ perspectives on women driving.
By comparing therepresentation of speech in the two newspapers, I highlight the possibility ofvarious linguistic ways to achieve media reportage while reflecting editorialorientation. Mystudy contributes to sociolinguistic theory by showing the interactional andideological capacity of referring terms and reported speech in Arabic mediadiscourse. The utility of taking an intertextual approach to the study ofreferring terms describing women in Saudi Arabia newspapers lies not only inthe explanatory power to understand how women are (un)represented in governmentaffiliated media, it also illuminates our understanding of how larger societalissues are contextualized via public discourse to serve specific ideologies andinfluence private domains of social practice. Bakhtin’s (1981) notions ofdialogicity and intertextuality construct the basis of my examination of suchdiscursive ways by which the two newspapers cover the driving campaign. Acentral idea of dialogicity is that all written or spoken communication is aresponse to prior discourse and an anticipation of what will come afterwards(Bakhtin, 1981; Voloshinov, 1986).
Thetype of discourse used to cover the same event and reference the same socialgroup varied widely based on the publications’ sociopolitical affiliations.Takingan intertextual approach to Arabic media discourse demonstrates howstate-censored newspapers construct and propagate their agenda, whileindependent newspapers, by its inclusion of various voices and its alterationin reporting style, have pushed the boundariesof what is permissible by emphasizing women and their rights. My studydemonstrates how certain discursive strategies were used by Arabic print mediain reaction to socio-political upheavals demanding change in the Arab World. Italso attempts to gain a better understanding of the formation of publicopinions through examining the type of discourse the public is exposed to. Thereferring terms and reported speech methods used in media discourse areresources of indexical meaning, and their use induces specific cultural andpolitical associations. When the public is repeatedly exposed to words such as”instigators” and “conspiracy” to describe women and the driving campaign, westart to understand the basis of the overwhelming antagonistic position towardswomen driving among the general public.
Such negative stereotyping of women isfurther strengthened when these terms are used by a governmental authoritywhose voice has higher credibility and value. Understanding the prior textsthat are triggered in the minds of readers enlightens our understanding of thecultural and political justifications of the driving prohibition and how womenand their roles are subverted in public discourse.