The paper explores the role of the media in influencing public opinion from an inferential-pragmatic perspective. It presents preliminary results of the study focused on representation of Russia in Western newspapers. Drawing on Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough 1995, 2001; van Dijk 2009) and media linguistics (Fowler 1991, Richardson 2007, among others) the study centres around the linguistic means of construing ambiguity/uncertainty, viewed as a strategy of persuasion. We mostly focus on the semantics of certain groups of words and other textual features such as indefinite pronouns, epistemic modality, passive voice, present perfect tense, interrogative headlines and some other tools used in media texts to construe ambiguity which, in its turn, arguably aims at influencing public opinion. We also look at presupposition, information structure, evaluation and transitivity. Though we have limited our study to the English language sources (The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, news websites of the BBC, Reuters, Express, Politico and Fox News, among others), we are not suggesting that linguistic ambiguity is a feature of Western, rather than Russian, or other languages’ media.
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