The Management of Writer-Reader Interaction in Newspaper Editorials

  • Mamonaheng Francina Selloane Ntsane Department of Communication and Study Skills Botho University Maseru, Lesotho
Keywords: appraisal, engagement system, dialogic contraction, dialogic expansion


This study investigates the management of interaction between the writer and the readers in newspaper editorials. It aims at exploring how editorial writers include the readers as participants in the discourse while maintaining their authorial persona. It investigates how the readers are aligned and disaligned with the views of the writer. Using the Engagement system of the Appraisal framework (Martin 2000, and Martin and White 2005), the study explores how dialogically expansive and contractive resources are used in this respect in editorials from different newspapers.

The study employed both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The findings show that contractive resources are slightly more used than expansive resources. The slight difference suggests that the editorial writers try to maintain a balance between bringing in the readers in a communicative event and maintaining their authority as the writers. The findings also indicate that Engagement resources are used in the same way by different newspapers. There is also no clear difference between newspapers from Lesotho and South Africa. This is because Public Eye (Lesotho), Sunday Times and Mail Guardian (both from South Africa) use the same style. Lesotho Times (Lesotho) is the only paper using a different style. It follows a more conversational tone and its arguments are somewhat subjective.

Author Biography

Mamonaheng Francina Selloane Ntsane, Department of Communication and Study Skills Botho University Maseru, Lesotho

Mamonaheng Francina Selloane Ntsane is a Communication and Study Skills Lecturer at Botho University, Lesotho. She holds MA in English Language and Linguistics from the National University of Lesotho. She is currently doing her Honours degree in Translation Studies at the University of South Africa.  Her research interests include Communication and Study Skills, Translation, Pragmatics and Discourse Analysis, in particular, media discourse. 


Bakhtin, M. 1986. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (V.W. Mcgee, Trans). Austin: University of Texas Press.

Halliday, M.A.K. 1994. Language as Code and Language as Behaviour: A systemic Functional Interpretation of the Nature and Ontogenesis of Dialogue. In R.P. Fawcett, M.A.K. Halliday, S.M. Lamb and A. Makkai, eds., The Semiotics of Culture and Language. London: Frances Printers.

Hyland, K. 2005. Stance and Engagement: a Model of Interaction in Academic. Discourse. Discourse Studies 7.2: 173–192.

Love, A. 2011. “The Language of Newspaper Editorials in Lesotho”. In A. Love, M. Machobane, F. Moloi, T. Khati, B. Ekanjume and T. Qhala, eds.,

Language Contact, Identity and Socio-Economic Mobility. Proceeding of 10th LASU Conference 2009: National University of Lesotho: pp. 406-417.

Martin, J. R. 2000. Beyond Exchange: APPRAISAL Systems in English. In S. Hunston and G. Thompson, eds., Evaluation in Text: Authorial Stance and the Construction of Discourse pp142-175. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Martin, J. R. And P. R. R. White. 2005. The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Thompson, G. 2001. Interaction in Academic Writing: Learning How to Argue with the Reader. Applied Linguistics 22.2: 58-78.

Thompson, P. 2005. Points of Focus and Position: Intertextual Reference in PhD Theses. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 4.4: 307-323.

White, P. R.R. 2001a. Appraisal-the Language of evaluation and Intersubjective Stance. [] Accessed 26/10/2011.

White, P.R. R. 2001b. Appraisal Outline. [] Accessed 23/10/2011

White, P.R R. 2005. Beyond Modality and Hedging: a Dialogic View of the Language of Intersubjective Stance. Text 23.2: 259-284.