Re-theorizing news' construction of reality: A realist-discourse-theoretic approach

Raymond W.K. Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Constructionism has always carried problems for journalism studies, for, whereas news is supposed to be about facts and reality, constructionism problematizes these very concepts. This article bears on this tension by revisiting the proposition that news constructs reality. We distinguish between construction as a concept and constructionism as a theory, and argue that the above proposition is fruitful but has hitherto been argued on the faulty theoretical grounds of constructionism. A realist-discourse-theoretic approach is proposed to establish the proposition on a sound theoretical basis. This is done on the basis of realism, and by means of modifying constructionism's central thesis that the outcome of discursive contention is decided upon exclusively by extra-discursive factors and grounding it on a realist basis. The characteristics of news-making are conceptualized as a particular category of extra-discursive factors, which, in particular types of cases, can play a central role in the construction of reality, thereby constituting reality construction by news. Empirical illustrations are provided. Our analysis should contribute to resolving the tension mentioned at the beginning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)886-902
Number of pages17
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Construction of reality
  • constructionism
  • extra-discursive factors
  • journalistic practices
  • news production
  • news values
  • realism


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