Constructing legal narratives: Law, language and the media

Jane Johnston, Rhonda Breit

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionResearchpeer-review


This paper proposes using the theory of narratology to connect legal discourses and processes with the way the media translate the law into news. Focussing on the Australian context, it looks at the choice of language used by media in covering courts, how stories are told and retold within these primarily textual environments, as well as the selection processes used by journalists in covering these rounds. The paper extends the argument for a narratology of courts, to a narratology of court reporting, suggesting fundamental criteria of story, discourse and the interpretative context be examined. It foreshadows the need for a methodology which addresses not just a content or discourse analysis of the media’s coverage of the law but a more embedded, triangulated approach which follows court proceedings through their various stages, beginning with the ‘acting out’ in the legal system, to written versions of transcripts, to media selection and, finally, to the production of courts as news. It suggests that a possible outcome to this methodology may be a deeper understanding between the courts and the media.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunication, creativity and global citizenship: Refereed proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association Conference (ANZCA) 2009
Place of PublicationBrisbane, Australia
PublisherThe Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA)
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781741072754
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
EventAustralian and New Zealand Communication Association Conference : Communication, creativity and global citizenship - Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 8 Jul 200910 Jul 2009


ConferenceAustralian and New Zealand Communication Association Conference
Abbreviated titleANZCA09
Internet address


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