French Journal for Media Research

Claver Bibang

Language and society
Discursive, communicational and social issues in the media reports on the assassination of Martin Luther King

Résumé

Le 4 Novembre, 2008, Barack Obama, de père noir et de mère blanche, accède à la magistrature suprême des États-Unis d'Amérique devant le monde entier stupéfait et fasciné par l'importance de cet événement qui se répète le 6 novembre 2012, faisant pour la deuxième fois ce fils de Kenyan et d'Africain le président de la nation la plus puissante du monde. Il semble alors essentiel de revenir, non pas sur le discours du révérend Martin Luther King, mais sur l'impact social, discursif et médiatique de son assassinat, le 4 Avril 1968. Sur la base du radiodiffuseur public du Canada, Radio-Canada, nous espérons découvrir les types d'interactions de communication, les questions discursives, ce qui est dit et ce qui est montré sur les Noirs dans ces moments particuliers. Nous présentons d'abord la structure et les problèmes du programme, avant d'étudier plus en profondeur les différentes positions et les méthodes d'observation qui conduisent à une réception synthétique de la catégorie de constitution.

Abstract

On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama, a half - breed fellow from a Black father and a White mother, accesses the highest office of the United States of America, before the world which remained stunned and fascinated by such a huge complexity of America which repeated itself on November 6, 2012 making for the second time that son of a Kenyan and African man the Head of the most powerful Nation in the world. Then it seems essential to go back, not to the speech of Reverend Martin Luther King, but to the social, discursive and media impact of his assassination, on April 4, 1968. Based on the report of the Canadian public broadcaster, Radio Canada, we hope to discover the types of communicative interactions and discursive issues and the said and shown categorical Black in these particular times, first through a presentation of the structure and problems of the program, before studying more deeply the different positions, and methods of observation that lead to a synthetic reception of the constituted category.

Texte intégral

Introduction

1April 4, 1968, the American Black leader of equal civil rights, Reverend Martin Luther King was assassinated in a popular area of Memphis, predominantly inhabited by the Blacks, while he was conversing on the balcony of a motel. The 39 year-old man of the speech of 28 August 1963 “I have a dream”, had been killed by a native offender in the southern United States, James Earl Ray, whose precise motivations have remained unclear till today. After having initially confessed the crime and pleaded guilty Earl Ray later recanted, claiming his innocence, despite the results of a thorough investigation of the FBI that had accumulated against him a great deal of damning evidences. This gives rise to several theories, including a conspiracy by two lawyers, John Kauffmann and John Sutherland, who would have made a bid for the head of the Black American leader. Still, the death of Martin Luther King aroused strong emotions, not only in the United States, but also worldwide. American President Lyndon Baines Johnson decreed a national mourning and a public funeral was held in Atlanta, to pay tribute to the apostle of non-violence. Yet, violent disturbances broke out in countless cities in the United States, primarily in the Black ghettos of Baltimore and Chicago, including Washington. The federal government responded harshly through the intervention of law enforcement forces. But the scale of the challenge was such that the army had to intervene. On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama, a half - breed fellow from a Black father and a White mother, accesses the highest office of the United States of America, before the world which remained stunned and fascinated by such a huge complexity of America which repeated itself on November 6, 2012 making for the second time that son of a Kenyan and African man the Head of the most powerful Nation in the world. Then it seems essential to go back, not to the speech of the leader of non-violence, but to the social, discursive and media impact of his assassination. Based on the report of the Canadian public broadcaster, Radio Canada, we hope to discover the types of communicative interactions and discursive issues and the said and shown categorical Black in these particular times, first through a presentation of the structure and problems of the program, before studying more deeply the different positions, and methods of observation that lead to a synthetic reception of the constituted category.

Structure and problematization

2      The program, Camera 68, opens with a story which goes back to the assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tennessee in the United States during a march to Washington for social rights (against poverty in particular) where the 1964 Nobel peace Prize Winner took part. The death, from a bullet fired by James Earl Ray whose identity was then not yet known nor revealed (this is indicated by the program), of Reverend Martin Luther King, who had repeatedly predicted his end including the day before, gave way to a series of riots of the Black American populations, violently reprimanded by security forces after a curfew imposed by the political authorities. There were fires, scenes of looting, violent police actions against protesters with several deaths amongst the “black majority”1.

3     This feminine noun phrase, which refers to the members of the minority group in the dramatic expression of a majority of casualties, is a technique of Black media, not only implicitly as a victim of violence by security forces, but as it is more involved in the social revolt. Thus arises the studied issue with procedures which require enunciation and reflect explicit and implicit characteristics of speech. This is the complexity of the “Explanation / implicitation” reports in the speech which “consists, on the one hand to make clear what is not made ​​clear by the words of the statement, and on the second hand not to articulate certain information that remain latent in the statement”2, explains Charaudeau and Maingueneau. A work on the speech is also a psychological process as it is appropriate to account for the mental disposition which is dormant in the word of a speaker. In studying the dynamics of the documentary, America gives the image of a country beset by chaos and on the brink of civil war. Yet the actions of journalists, live on set or on assignment, allow to guess a more ambiguous social climate : Black organizations and White activists appear in an absolutely irreconcilable situation with heavy weapons possessions of one side and a desire for revenge of the other; anyway, the surprising extent of extremists like the Ku Klux Klan and the calm of Black leaders seeking to honor the non-violence principle of Martin Luther King, at least momentarily, and an American congressmen’s decision concerning garbage men, will generate a minimum hope that justifies the title theme. That, at least, is the impression given by Judith Jasmin, in her live conclusion on the TV studio in Montreal, developing a logical problem of contradictions which are the result of identity, social and economic conflicts. The media communication is thus a social communication crossed by tensions which are made more complex by the speeches in which appear the modes of representation which shape groups and symbolic processes which define them. According to Lochard and Boyer, “the evoked contradictory verdicts concerning this form of social communication originate from the permanent tension between economic and symbolic issues at the heart of the media system”3. Thus, the observed scenes of looting, fires and confrontation with the security forces may be at the same time the expression of the economic suffering of an ethnic minority, which, feeling excluded, finds a pretext in the murder of one of its major leaders, to expose a deeper social and identity malaise within the American society. The thus explored problem without ever losing sight of the explicit interest of the speech, will also work at identifying and studying different states of media language and implicit statements in the media, which apply the Black, both as an act of speeches and a contradictory language reference which give meaning to the principle of communication, while legitimizing a structural issue in a corpus. “For we know that the speech act carries an implicit task that is constructed by a serial activity which helps to produce a certain specificity of meaning: the meaning”4.

Positions in the presence

4     Almost exclusively ensured by a journalistic trio composed of Judith Jasmin, media instance in studio, coordinator of the program, distributing speech, launching the reports which she then comments, and two correspondents in the field, Réal Pelletier and Lucien Millet who, one after the other, reflect the sequence of events and the context), the ambiguity of the chaotic and strongly stretched climate, develops two postures: a scary American context of violence, by its immediate and racial tensions and identity ensuing events; and the fragile hope for a better future glimpsed by circumstantial and tenuous racial conflicts by neutralizing the forces, yet still antagonistic. Here the voice off, invisibility procedure instance of speech, is transformed and becomes embedded in voice in circumstantially, appearing on the screen, for, apparently, gives greater credibility to the correspondence between words which say “Black” and images which show it.

A violent American context

5      The voice in of Judith Jasmin, along with pictures and a mournful music, sets the macabre and tragic tone for the current event: “On Thursday night, a gunshot in Memphis tipped up the fate of America into drama and agony again”5. The Control agency contextualizes the input information, bringing the event to the global reality of the United States, subject to violence. Hence the expressive cues, “shot”, “drama and violence,” accented by “tipped up again” which stipulates a repetition. It seems that contextualization is essential to media body that can express the informative event in a general trajectory of the United States, stated in terms of tragic violence, almost endemic with this fatality that involves the notion of “destiny”. Contextualization may allow the media instance, not be influenced or carried away by the emotion aroused by the news, hoping to avoid a subjective television enunciation even underlying. Studying the “indispensable contextualization”, The Bohec recalls that “it is indeed from the start that we must contextualize before causing irreparable damages like the implicit adhesion to the paradigm of influence”6. The event is not only serious in its manifestation in the state, it is equally serious in the fact that the victim, being resolutely pacifist, was a bulwark against racial violence in the United States. “By murdering Dr. Martin Luther King, a fanatic that they are still looking for, had abruptly removed the black Americans, of both a father, a symbol of pride and above all a safeguard against the temptation of despair against the violence”7, says the media instance, which gives a telegraphic dimension to its utterance. Not in the sense that an issuer would seize a handset to address a given receptor, but in a form of entropy of the information provided, which would make the unpredictable and uncertain immediate future of a violent American nation constantly crossing racial tensions. The Black is thus stated as a major victim deprived of a leader who was a conscience and a benchmark, which reports to the symbols of “father” and “pride,” but also as a potential danger, a violence in expression instance.

6     Many discursive processes which allow the body to handle the media event and the power (sometimes excessive) which is given to it by the context and its various issues, to put the Canadian viewer in perspective (on the next ethnic brutalities in the United States henceforth unavoidable), despite the passivity that engages the receiver position. According to Boutaud, “the communication actors always keep a strength of manipulation and of negotiation with these elements, according to more subtle transactions than the simple balance of power between statistical disproportionate weight information and passive reception of the subject”8. The report continues with images of “Great American Cities”9 in flames, in monotonous background sound support, the voice evoking the cities “where the black population is crammed into ghettos [which] began to burn”10. Journalistic saying, increasingly complex, exposing the social misery in which the African Americans live, combined with images of cities on fire, logically creates a mirror double temporality effect: the present time of the events which are the immediate consequences of the big event, the assassination of the Rev. King, and the constant time of a secular and social exclusion of Blacks would also explain their reactions. This is, in a sense, what Boutaud called “a mirror effect therefore technically rational, bringing all imaginable forms of reading and interpretation on an increasingly complex environment”11. The list raises awareness of the scale of revolts and of unusual circumstances which eventually end up worrying the forced authorities to react significantly “Chicago, Detroit and Washington, ordered curfew. The capital, which has never experienced riots, is besieged by the army that came to lend a hand to the police and the National Guard”12.

7     The media instance uses the list to describe an American society under tension, each indicated city constituting a confirmation status of violence raging in America, the specificities of this violence, with the unpublished character of a « capital » which till then had been spared, the involvement of forces in place trying to bring back order constituting itself the movement of a universe the imaginary of which legitimates the conflict. Judith Jasmin’s technique, which lists while describing, to show the American social violences, which are also modes of implicit expression of identity violence based on racial separation, can find an analytical relevance with Philippe Hamon. Saying the Black, this is to enumerate the urban expression of his rebellion, which is also implied and accounting description of the identity of the American world violence and the utopia of a segmentation which characterizes races. “The description is a mode of being of the texts in which a more or less implicit theory occurs, a more or less 'wild' language, especially when reflecting and staging a linguistic utopia, that of the language as nomenclature, that of a language whose duties would be limited to name or describe the world end to end, language monopolized by its referential labeling function of a world itself 'discreet', cut into 'units'”13, said Hamon. In this sense, the intervention of the army, police and national guards, who are trying to enforce the “curfew” gives the impression of an America under siege, plagued by a so strong violence of Blacks that it is widespread, almost causing anarchy.

8     Thus operates an accounting provision of the violence, divided into units of meaning between the facts of violence shown and the words to express them. This is for the instance of the media, to “adjust word lists and lists of things”14 to report effectively on the generalized violence which results from the particular violence of a Black leader, committed to non-violence. “It's messy riot”15 continued Judith Jasmin in off, which described the chaotic social climate in the United States, the words associating with images in a performative perspective inducing media expertise, and therefore a skillful usage of the media to exploit to the best the social overtones of the information provided. “This requires not only a technical usage of communication but more over communication techniques to use in social practices”16, one might say with Boutaud.  The media instance evokes “looters shot dead by the police, in large numbers Blacks”17 This precision, digital and nominal, helps bring the viewer not only to realize the gravity of the events, particularly violent, but also the main victims, “the Blacks”, mostly killed by the security forces. This is perhaps a multifunctional strategy designed to justify the semiotics of the competency of a media instance implicitly involved, trying to shock the public, to keep his attention on current events, their identity factors and social consequences they generate. As the television authority adds to the weight of words, the clash of images, proceeding undoubtedly by choice and staged violence. This is, to put it with Lochard and Boyer “a structuring activity involving 'selection' and 'mapping'”18. Real televised performance which is also a “media competence”19 programmatic expression and semiotics of a discourse that affects the viewer to anticipate his reactions which may include, facing the violence of the events reported, to deny or overlook their importance for protecting themselves psychologically. Thus, the “media literacy” is an “activity [which] also operates in the mode of correction (a component of the message may be overstated or understated by the viewer), the impact (which involves mobilizing the memories), involvement (which”is to embrace what comes in the media conditions in which we find ourselves“) and stabilization (the viewer protects himself against too brutal novelty) ...”20. Back on set, Judith Jasmin, facing the camera, asks the reporter Réal Pelletier in Baltimore, “ in the heart of the action ”21 so that he “talks about what he saw there during those days”22, the supervisory instance making of the reporting instance documentaries, live interviews of testimony, of which Charaudeau precises that“ its purpose is to be either a story reporting an event deemed interesting enough to access the media [which is particularly relevant here, the more so as the witness himself belongs to the media landscape], or a brief opinion issued in response to current”23 facts. Thus Réal Pelletier’s live testimony is about violences which were similar, not only in Baltimore, but also in Chicago: “You can say that, yes, the violence were substantially similar”24. To support his confirmation, the reporting instance cites examples, advances figures to indicate the extent of damage, giving an epic and hyperbolic characteristic of the reported and described events.

9     However, despite the same level and state of urban violences in which vegetate the United States, the reporter qualified his statement, saying that they had “a more significant effect”25 in Baltimore than in Chicago. This shows well not only the accounting of the enunciated violences, relative to the scale of each city to establish the specificities, but also the documentary contribution of each element specified in the media list. Thus “we recognize [...] that in a list, each element of the enumeration has a documentary value”26. Moreover, the exchange between the two reporters (a monitoring and reporting instance), reveals that unlike Baltimore, “Chicago”, larger city, “is accustomed to the riots”27. Intra-media dialogue, juxtaposing or comparing the violences according to urban areas, creates an enunciatory disjunction of the revolt, which is not the same throughout the United States, some cities discovering it, while others are repeating it in a form of secularity of the sensitive whose discursive discontinuity and the staging of the facts, are paths of journalists and the connections they establish. Studying the rhetorical and descriptive methods of enumeration of Hamon, Jeay found that “the most interesting of the comments [of a theorist] is the one by which he combines the aesthetic of the discontinuous common to both practices, staging a speech of the way where characters cross paths and connect juxtaposed spaces”28. Thus organizes itself a triangular information way, which is mostly a contractual method of communication, assuming a monitoring media body. Judith Jasmin, who, to bring out or confirm the truth about the effectiveness and characteristics of violence in America, requests the testimony of Pelletier (as well as that of Millet), media instance of testimony and therefore of making information credible; and an absent instance, the viewer, that Charaudeau called “absent third party,” who is at the same time a passive consumer of information and the supposed main target of the developed communication strategies. “The journalistic interview therefore has the characteristics of any interview, but in addition, it is specified by the media contract: interviewer and interviewee are listened – heard [and seen] by an absent third party, the auditor [here, the viewer], in a triangular arrangement. The first one derives his legitimacy from a 'Seek to make his guest speak to discover a hidden truth', because his role is to bring out opinions. The second one from 'I have something to say concerning the common good', because his presence [physical and vocal on the field and on TV] consecrates him in this role. The third one from 'I'm here to hear something of general interest which is given to me as a revelation', because he knows, as well as the other two, that the intentions of beings are often obscured / ”29. And it is in this expressive perspective which consists to say in the direction of the “common good”30, that the reporter continued his testimony by confirming that he was in “Black neighborhoods”31, always making use of comparisons. When asked whether the “relationships between the two communities”32, Black and White “were badly damaged from these events”33, the reporter says, by a system of temporal stoppage, that “it must be said that they have never been very very good”34.

10     The common good, that is to say, the social peace and identity harmony of racial differences, is so further compromised in the United States that it has “never” been truly earned. Pathetic and tragic conclusion which allows the media instance testimony to develop its own view of the events in question: “the riots only serve to emphasize, if you want, a kind of gap which permanently exists between Black and White communities of these great American cities”35. Factual violence, marked by the event of the assassination of the Black leader, would be recorded in a cycle of racial tensions inked in the American civic identity. Violences are then reported, described and explained events, therefore polyphonically stated. And as they are called, these events constitute violences of which a deeper meaning should be found in American secularism. Blacks and whites are then two opposing faces of the same permanent, never satisfied American violence, still awaiting explosion. That is to say, the present violence  requires that we must always take it back to  the contextual reference in which deafens the historical referential to better distinguish between event-issues, enunciation and identity predetermination and forces that are all social experiences, but also discursive ones. Referring to the passage “from the discursive event to the linguistic event” Charaudeau and Maingueneau show that “to affirm the omnipotence of event occurrence is to distinguish straightaway the fact caught in a predefined world and the irreducible to the context event, therefore comprehensible in its own discursive effectuation [...] while marking, in a differentiated manner its referential entry into the world of empirical language”36. Pelletier, whose “if you want,” is a sign of enunciation of immediacy of the conversation with the media instance in the studio, relates the violence of the event to an pre-existing social situation. It is formulated as a journalistic position which is not easy, the media instance having at the same time the obligation to report, by its mere presence at the scene of the violent events, while attempting to bring a look of an almost expert community relationships. The reporter is at the same time the one that relates  one or more events with neutrality, events on which he is not supposed to promote reflection, and he is  an omniscient speaker who knows more of what he speaks, who informs himself specifically, before he is invited to inform the public. This is an ambivalent posture of which the fragility is reflected in this report-interview between the female journalist on the set and her correspondent in Baltimore. According to Charaudeau, “the positioning problem arises mainly for journalists themselves about which one may wonder if the adage which goes 'the reporter does not think and knows everything' is applicable”37. While the theorist speaks of the “uncomfortable” character “of the position of columnists and editorialists”38 especially, it also applies to reporters put in the perspective of a telephone and media interaction which promotes testimony. Communication strategies are then presented as an unquestionable truth the more so as the testimony is brought by a journalist on the ground reporting the facts to another reporter in the studio, without losing the sight of the main target, the viewer. It is a matter of always to convince of the effectiveness of the facts described or reported, and thus to influence his thinking about the meaning of current events.

11     Finally these are traditional arrangements of enunciation perspectives, “every utterance assuming a speaker and a listener [who is also a potential viewer], and in the intention of the first one of influencing the other one in any way”39 as Benveniste has so well observed.

The fragile hope for a better future

12      Conducting a pathetic list of damages and losses that mark the seriousness of the violence, Judith Jasmin exposes a particularly dramatic social and urban environment: “Three days of riots, fires, looting, which made thirty five deaths, two thousand and five hundred wounded, fourteen thousand arrests, hundreds of homeless, millions of property loss”40. The polyphonic nature of the list, establishes by the so produced effect list, the extent of social and human disaster, in a kind of unacceptable social pill. This is what Philippe Hamon called a “literal cyst”41 a metaphorical expression which designates, by enumeration, the inadmissibility of a fact (here, not only the death of Rev. King, but also the corollary violences) in a speech. The Death of the Black leader, apostle of non-violence, has generated an urban violence bordering on disaster, semiotics mural drawn by the media supervisory body, establishing a record that the statement holds the virtual, the updated and directed. The multiplication of numbers and figures is a formal arrangement of the damage, both human and material. “The Phase Virtual Updated [VA] is the emergence of a form”42 says Fontanille. Emerging by the numbers, the violence of the revolt of the Blacks appear as a litany of dramatic social realities, updated by the techniques of nominal designations: riots, burning, looting, deaths, injuries, arrests, homelessness, loss. According to Fontanille, “Phase Updated Directed [AR] describes the appearance of a form. The form is given here an expression and reality status enabling it to be a reference”43. In addition, the factual picture, which paints a virtualized form by figures updated by the enumerated nominalism also exposes a reality which shows the deterioration of the socio-racial relations in the United States. “The Phase Directed potentiated [PS] is the condition of the decline of a form as a lively and innovative form, and therefore describes its entry into use, and its attachment as PRAXEME potentially available for other convocations”44. However, despite these formal features which confine the disaster, the media supervisory body provides a glimmer of hope in the community and social tensions that govern the relationship of Blacks and Whites in the United States, first with the ambivalent silence of Black leaders: “Young leaders of black power as Stokeley Carmichael, despite a call for revenge launched after the murder, have since remained silent, absent from the scene, it seems”45. The media instance exhibits the contrast of a violence which arose in the actuality of race riots in the macroscopic dynamics of the assassination of Martin Luther King, dynamic event accented by particularly vengeful Black leaders; the violence being nevertheless withheld and contained by the same leaders as Judith Jasmin relates.

13     Violence is then accepted by the media authority, which cancels the same saying, to characterize the complexity of the Black, in the American context, constantly caught in a violent part of the history of the United States, updated by the dynamic event (the death of Luther King) and yet retained by the solemnity and reverence which required at the same time this “drama” which is also the “agony”46 of the American people. Judith Jasmin in its methods of enumeration and description of violence, develops a paradoxical statement of the Black which is connoted in a confused way, to what Zumthor called a poetical, a paradoxical enumeration process of designating and showing a reality while evacuating it or questioning it through a codification which retains its meaning, almost illusory or mythological. In other words, the Black, violent in the present expression of rebellion, and a victim of violence in a society which murders him (through the murder of Rev. Luther King), is also the expression of non-violence or contained and withheld violence. Not a non- violence in its pacifist but precarious state, and therefore durably illusory. The Black is so, in Derrida's view, a “semi-empty, signifying by his mere membership mythological paradigm, introducing a diffuse connotative sow: it is about the poetical47. Lucien Millet, second reporter called to provide answers to the questions of his female colleague, Judith Jasmin on the basis of “first impressions”48 about the meaning of the silence of Black leaders, demonstrating their presence in the procession “black Power members were present at the parade”49. This confirmation is a media information which bears an evidential value, but perhaps also the message of peace in action, even if it is very random, between Community belligerents. From this message of precarious peace, a confused code seems to emerge: the paradox of the violent Black, who knows not to be violent, expresses perhaps also another contrast, the violent White man who knows not to be violent. In any case, it is always interesting to consider a possible “emergence of the code in the message”50. The media instance situation provides important clarification about-face discretion of Black activists during the funeral procession, “But they seemed to observe a truce”51. The combination of contradiction or shade, marks the surprise of the media instance which certainly expected a more virulent community response. Thus serial device of the relationships between Blacks and Whites, which disrupts the conventional structure of social conflict in the United States where the term racial is the base of identity dialectic.  As Levi-Strauss notes, “the structure [of absolute myth of racial violence] degrades in seriality”52 since without ever ceasing to be violent, Blacks and Whites manage to compromise the endemic violence which governs their society and delays it. Violence while still present, but already absent in its delayed. And to illustrate the importance of the measured behavior of Black leaders, whose presence in the context of this tragic violence which follows the death of one of them, was fearing the worst, the second delay continues his testimony through a self-referential statement explaining his own presence at the scene: “I ​​recognized a few, that I saw last year at the convention of black power in New York”53.

14     The media instance in situations corroborates so, urging the paradox of a violent society (described by the media instance in the studio), offset by temporarily holding peaceful iconic Black figures Boutaud already stated that “when the studio remains true to its traditional image of the place of entertainment [the funeral show here], this is coveting the effect of reality by the revelation, confession, testimony in which everyone can recognize himself”54. Thus, the gravity of the events described and reported, which have the United States as a place of endemic violence, is counterbalanced by a surprising reserve of Black leaders, implying a hope, even very random, of a possible termination of racial conflict . “The semiotic act lowers a form [the desperate fate of racial violence in the United States] to promote another [racial truce and hope of an unlikely social peace]; two modes of existence in competition are firmly modified”55. To the question of Judith Jasmin to know whether the nonviolent attitude of Black leaders was temporary to “respect the remains of King”56, the correspondent in Atlanta responds positively by developing a hybrid discourse, consisting of a direct sequence and an indirect part which allow the speaker to justify his testimony through a quotation of Black personalities: “Yes, of course, I even heard some say 'they do not lose anything by waiting today it is the spirit of non-violence of Martin Luther King which must be respected at all costs'”57.

15     Thus, the reporter, media instance in situation constitutes a television locutive that legitimates the reported facts, not just by his presence on the field, but also by the words of Black leaders he reports. “As a general rule, the locutive always refers to the speaker or writer. However, that person may, by announcing his plans through a verb meaning to say or using a phrase [...] report the words of another person”58, explain Damourette and Pichon. In reporting the words of Black leaders, both belligerent towards the extremists of the macro-group they want to face, and respectful of the funeral, at the same time conscious of the pacifist memory of one of their own, the media instance exposes a paradoxical social background, made of violence, desire of violence and withholding will, first communication situation, and the report of these ambiguities, second communication situation. The indirect speech is then a binary statement of which the communication supposes an initial reality (the assassination of Martin Luther King, the riots and the funeral procession) at the origin of speech acts, here the words of the Black leaders, and an ultimate reality (actual television circumstances here) that the speaker is trying to make authentic by taking the words of others. As recalled Gauvenet, “the report makes words an extremely complex phenomenon that involves two communication situations, the first one having raised a speech act, and the second one allowing the recovery of these words under conditions and for purposes one will have to specify”59 in an argumentative process of veridiction and of legitimation of the reported facts and the particularities that the speaker seeks to exhibit, make hear or understand. Seeking to show that the circumstantial appeasement is shared by the two rival communities (Black and White), Millet, always through free indirect discourse procedure evokes an implicit agreement, paradoxically scary: “it is a kind of agreement of fear”60.  

16     That is what gives the media saying, a historical content as well as a contractual content. What is hidden in this implicit agreement based on fear, is the violence hanging over American society, like the sword of Damocles which may be activated at any time, the sensitivity of the events being reported still vivid. This is the third type benvenistian saying, “third type of utterance, where the speech is reported in terms of events and transposed historically; this is what is commonly called 'indirect speech'”61, said Simonin. To prove the uniqueness of this violence suspended and delayed between the African Americans and the Whites, the Canadian media immersion instance, advances an argument, the unusually conciliatory attitude of the Ku Klux Klan, which is headquartered in Atlanta: “The Ku Klux Klan even said in recent days after an explosion which was caused to their headquarters62 : 'we do not want revenge, it is not about revenge'”63. The indirect nature of free speech, which includes the presentative and demonstrative statement of the journalist, with the collective statement of the Ku Klux Klan, the most obvious symbol of a white identity violence turned against the Blacks in the United States, shows that all discourse of telling each other, restoring his words, and so his thoughts and his conviction can not stand the limits of individual expression. For to say, is also to report or reproduce social expression, that is to say, the collective identity. It is in this sense that Bakhtin, combining long time before Benveniste, the retrieved character of the speech to its enunciative demonstration a unit which is best suited to glimpse semantically, said that “in reality, the act of speech, or more precisely its product, the enunciation, can in no way be considered as individual, in the narrow sense of the term”64. Playing in fact on the mode of collective expression, although reported by an individual saying, here that of a media instance in situation, precarious peace and delayed violence are social reasons for reported events which sometimes introduce the speech of Black activists, sometimes the words of White extremists in the media enunciation which is then a speech of Truth and legitimation. “Reported speech is speech in the speech, saying in the statement”65, says Bakhtin who indicates that it is also the introduction of a thought in another. So citing the Blacks and Whites in terms of withheld violence, and therefore proposed peace, be it in the hazard of the moment, the media instance expressed a surprise which is first his, but whose function is also to surprise the target viewer. The border is not as clearly defined as it might be supposed, between direct speech and reported speech, between what is proper to itself in the events described and what truly belongs to another. Both speeches often overlap into each other, one is subordinate to the other vaguely, penetrating it or letting itself be penetrated. Confusion even more likely than in the direct expression of speech events can be reported, allowing the speaker to develop a point of view on the emotional state of a third party that he takes as a principal or secondary theme or subject of his statement.

17     In other words, even when the other is not mentioned specifically, it is implied by its explicit evocation, thus making it an action, a thought or a feeling which is reported. Also “direct speech is the process which allows to issue a statement for which the other is responsible by the explicit reporting of the other as subject of enunciation”66, says Rey-Debove precisely. The media instance expresses its surprise which allows to guess that the usual climate in the United States, between Blacks and Whites, is of a violence without concession: “He [Ku Klux Klan] called upon the control of emotions from those representing white racism in the South. What is anyway enough surprising”67. The surprise of the media instance may be due to the “emergence of the code in the message”68, we have observed above, as a disruption of traditional structures of social relations between Blacks and Whites in the United States, usually based on a secular and endemic violence. But we said with Levi-Strauss, this absolute “structure”69 and thus the mythological absolute and racial violence in the United States “degrades seriality '”70, giving a peaceful social environment which neutralizes the systematic nature of community conflicts, generating a fragile hope, almost as illusory as the tranquility of the described moment. The precarious hope, which seems to be present by this implicit pact of non-aggression between Whites and Blacks, in homage to the convictions of the Black reverend, advocate of non-violence and fighter of non-detestation of oneself and of the other. “The Assassination of Luther King may have succeeded, at least temporarily, to serve as an exorcism to the hatred here”71, points out the correspondent who insinuated at the same time a certain fatality of the event in question. And the socio-historical event which, according to Charaudeau can be an “accident”, can also raise a tragedy. The case of Rev. King, who prophesied the day before his death, on his disappearance, augurs well from what the media owes social tragedy. So let us add the basic principle of the tragic to the notion of “drama” which we inherited from Charaudeau and, as such, always seems essential to us. “In general, we can say that to the media, any particular fact which occurs in public space [here the assassination of Martin Luther King] is likely to become the trace of a human drama [or a human tragedy] ”72, says the theorist of media discourse.

Categorical reception                                                               

18     To sum it up, Camera 68, based on an alternation between words in the studio of the monitoring instance and the reports of two journalists on the field, shows and says the Black; the Black who shows himself, but who does not say to himself, leaving the other transpose his words, by repeating them or by explaining them, at least in clarifying them. Particularly shown and said in the expression of an American violent social context, the Blacks appear as victims, mostly in the person of Reverend Martin Luther King assassinated by the extremism of his fellow. The Blacks are also victims of the violence of the security forces that descended in numbers to pacify the streets and contain the revolts using the attack dogs, live ammunition shots, water jets shots and lynching.

19     However, the Blacks are also responsible for violence, through riots and burned cities, scenes of looting, in response to the assassination of the civil rights leader. The street, public space, is shown and said, in the expression of a Manichean and ethnic rivalry, invaded by frustrated Blacks who face institutional authority that came to restore order. The television instance, in its multiple assumption, perhaps seeking to legitimize the media speech by preventing the denials of structural realities which could give the feeling of a non-human experience deeply confused, virtual, and under a strong dialogic emptiness among others. For it should be remembered, “ from suspicion to denial, it is not scarce to confuse information and communication, to see nothing but the vacuum or the artifice of means, of techniques which choke back social communication models to the rank of farces, cut off from human experience and actual exchange”73.

20     However, The Black is not only said and shown by his fellow, motivated by some public demand of which the program seeks to engage through what Lochard has elsewhere called a “search for spectator involvement”74, he shows himself as a victim of ideological and institutional violence of the other, his speech was reported by media organizations. In the program broadcasted, the Black that rises to denounce the social conditions of their victimization, responding “ to the demand which governs the programming”75 issue, is among others, embodied by Mrs. King during her funeral oration in front of TV cameras of which she could not ignore the presence, perhaps trying to move viewers around the world through her own person, to cause a surge of popular thinking on the condition of the Blacks in the United States, in these painful moments of the death of her famous husband.

21     Unconfessed social-media-human enterprise but revealed by the association circumstance / image / speech, which seems to have worked. While a close-up is done on Mrs. King, Judith Jasmin main media instance, in a monotonous and deep voice, expresses herself effectively in a speech mode of which the descriptive valence seems to be trying to move the viewers and make them reflect on the violence of which the Blacks are victims in the United States: “his wife, delayed by the fog, joins the procession. A woman of great beauty, of great nobility, Mrs. King delivers the funeral eulogy of her husband”76.

22     Nominal provisions, “the procession” and “funeral eulogy” are enunciation variables of a violent social reality, paradoxically reinforced by verbal qualifiers which advantageously describe the widow of the Reverend, on her moral, intellectual and physical plans. The anaphora “great” produces an accentuation effect on Mrs. King’s respectability, a Black woman whose husband, also a Black and believer in non-violence, has just violently lost life, therefore victim of the violent rivalry of his fellow. Thus, the microstructures, based on the signs of social rivalries which generate violences which find its meaning in ethnic differences, or vice versa, rooted in the macroscopic category of the Blacks said and shown, the Blacks who also show themselves, develop a sinister and dramatic media fresco, yet attractive and semiotically relevant. “Dark painting which is not without charm or relevance, but which requires an analysis of the phenomena involved, under the double solicitation of the sign (semiotics) and meaning exchange (communication) ”77.

Conclusion

23 Thus the Black is said and shown in a variable perspective, both a victim of the violence of his fellows (embodied by the Ku Klux Klan and especially the law enforcement forces), himself a vector of violence against the other (by revenge practices sought by the Black activists and the scenes of looting). But the Black is also said and shown as a peaceful reality, of course fleeting and incidental, however, likely to favor the fragile hope of a better future. The semiotic challenge of the show seen here is to glimpse especially in a communicative extent the media will to transmit behind the television news, the conviction of a human victory (involving Blacks and Whites) always possible, including a such particular tragic context. The Macrocosm of the Black said and shown, also revealing the microstructural violences and rivalries which are specific to each ethnic group or discursive group, currently setting back, develops de facto an act of communication, supported by an information contract, which takes over a simply enunciative act which also has to do with the context.  While Boutaud said, “attention is still dominated by the message as a trigger rather than the situation of utterance, the patterns of influence affecting less the microsemiotic level of interpersonal relationships than the macrosemiotic level of symbolic operations ''running' between different social instances of communication”78.

Bibliographie

     -Guy Lochard and Henry Boyer, Media Communication, Paris, Seuil, Coll. “Memo”, 1998, 96 pages.

      -Jacques Damourette and Edouard Pichon, From Words to thinking: Test Grammar of the French Language, 1911-1940, Paris, Editions Artrey, 1932 Reissue, Vrin, 1976 The book is available in digital form since 2007.

     -Patrick Charaudeau and Dominique Maingueneau (directed by), Dictionary of Discourse Analysis, Paris, Seuil, 2002.

     -Patrick Charaudeau, The media information discourse, “The construction of social mirror,” Paris, Nathan / INA Collection “Media Research”, 1997, 286 pages.

     -Madeleine Jeay, The words trade, Paris, Droz, 2006     

     -Maurice Laugaa, “The story of list”, in French Studies, Number 14, 1978. In URI : http://id.erudit.org/iderudit/036668ar. Article read October 15, 2012. Reread June 9, 2013.

     -Guy Lochard, The information televised, “Mutations professional and citizen issues,” Paris, CLEMI-Vuibert-Ina, Coll. “Understanding Media”, 2005, 220 pages.

     -Philippe Hamon, Introduction to the analysis of the descriptive, Paris, Hachette University, Coll. “Language -Linguistique-Communication”, 1981, 268 pages.

     -Patrick Charaudeau, Language and Speech, Paris, Hachette University, Coll. “Language-Linguistic Communication”, 1983, 176 pages.

     -Jenny Simonin-Grumbach, “For a typology of discourse”, In Julia Kristeva, Jean-Claude Milner and Nicolas Ruwet (directed by), Language, Discourse, Society, “For Emile Benveniste,” Volume 1, Paris, Seuil, Coll. “Points”, 1975, 400 pages.

     -Mikhaïl Bakhtin, Marxism and the philosophy of language, “Application Tests of sociological method in linguistics,” Paris, Minuit, Coll. “Common sense”, reissued in 1977. Translated from Russian and presented by Marina Yaguello, Foreword by Roman Jakobson, 232 pages.

     -Paul Zumthor, The Mask and light : the poetical of Great Rhetoricians, Paris, Seuil, Coll. “Poetical”, 1978, 313 pages.

     -Josette Rey-Debove, Metalanguage : Linguistic Study of the discourse on language, Volume 1, Paris, Le Robert dictionaries, Coll. “The Order of the words” Paris, 1978, 318 pages. Reissue increased by Armand Colin, 1997.

     -Claude Levi-Strauss, The Origin of Table Manners, Paris, Plon, Coll. “Mythologicals”, 1968, 475 pages.

     -Hélène Gauvenet (directed by), Pedagogy of reported speech, Paris, Didier, Coll. “VIC Collection” 1976, 124 pages.

     -Emile Benveniste, Problems in General Linguistic, Volume 2, Paris, Gallimard, coll. “Tel”, 1974, 288 pages.

   -Jacques Le Bohec “The disenchanted political communication,” in Stéphane Olivesi (directed by), Information Sciences and Communication, Grenoble, PUG, Coll. “The communication in more”, 2006, 286 pages.

    -Jean-Jacques Boutaud, Semiotics and Communication, Paris, L'Harmattan, Coll. “Visual Fields”, 1998, 320 pages.

    -Jacques Fontanille, Semiotics of the speech, Limoges, PULIM., Coll. “New Acts Semiotic”, 2003, 315 pages.

Notes

1  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

2  Patrick Charaudeau and Dominique Maingueneau (directed by), Dictionary of Discourse Analysis, Paris, Seuil, 2002, page 257.

3  Guy Lochard and Henry Boyer, Media Communication, Paris, Seuil, Coll. "Memo", 1998, page 7.

4  Patrick Charaudeau, Language and Speech, Paris, Hachette University, Coll. "Language-Linguistic Communication", 1983, page 28.

5  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

6  Jacques Le Bohec "The disenchanted political communication," in Stéphane Olivesi (directed by), Information Sciences and Communication, Grenoble, PUG, Coll. "The communication in more", 2006, page 89.

7  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

8  Jean-Jacques Boutaud, Semiotics and Communication, Paris, L'Harmattan, Coll. "Visual Fields", 1998, page 25.

9  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

10  Idem.

11  Jean-Jacques Boutaud, Semiotics and Communication, Paris, L'Harmattan, Coll. "Visual Fields", 1998, page 40.

12  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

13  Philippe Hamon, Introduction to the analysis of the descriptive, Paris, Hachette University, Coll. "Language -Linguistique -Communication", 1981, page 6.

14  Philippe Hamon, Introduction to the analysis of the descriptive, Paris, Hachette University, Coll. "Language -Linguistique -Communication", 1981, page 6.

15  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

16  Jean-Jacques Boutaud, Semiotics and Communication, Paris, L'Harmattan, Coll. "Visual Fields", 1998, page 45.

17  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

18  Guy Lochard and Henry Boyer, Media Communication, Paris, Seuil, Coll. "Memo", 1998, page 17.

19 Idem.

20 Ibidem.

21  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

22 Idem.

23  Patrick Charaudeau, The media information discourse, "The construction of social mirror," Paris, Nathan / INA Collection "Media Research", 1997, page 203.

24  Réal Pelletier, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

25  Réal Pelletier, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

26  Madeleine Jeay, The words trade, Paris, Droz, 2006, page 23.

27  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

28  Madeleine Jeay, The words trade, Paris, Droz, 2006, page 28.

29  Patrick Charaudeau, The media information discourse, "The construction of social mirror," Paris, Nathan / INA Collection "Media Research", 1997, page 202.

30 Idem.

31  Réal Pelletier, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

32  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

33 Idem.

34  Réal Pelletier, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

35  Réal Pelletier, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

36  Patrick Charaudeau and Dominique Maingueneau (directed by), Dictionary of Discourse Analysis, Paris, Seuil, 2002, page 246.

37  Patrick Charaudeau, The media information discourse, "The construction of social mirror," Paris, Nathan / INA Collection "Media Research", 1997, page 244.

38 Idem.

39  Emile Benveniste, Problems in General Linguistic, Volume 2, Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Tel", 1974, page 241.

40  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

41  Philippe Hamon, Introduction to the analysis of the descriptive, Paris, Hachette University, Coll. "Language -Linguistique -Communication", 1981, page 12.

42  Jacques Fontanille, Semiotics of the speech, Limoges, PULIM., Coll. "New Acts Semiotic", 2003, page 291. Première édition, 1999.

43 Idem.

44 Ibidem.

45  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

46  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

47  Paul Zumthor, The Mask and light : the poetical of Great Rhetoricians, Paris, Seuil, Coll. "Poetical", 1978, page 176.

48  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

49  Lucien Millet, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

50  Maurice Laugaa, "The story of list", in French Studies, Number 14, 1978, page 175. In URI : http://id.erudit.org/iderudit/036668ar. Article read October 15, 2012. Reread June 9, 2013.

51  Lucien Millet, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

52  Claude Levi-Strauss, The Origin of Table Manners, Paris, Plon, Coll. "Mythologicals", 1968, page 105.

53  Lucien Millet, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

54  Jean-Jacques Boutaud, Semiotics and Communication, Paris, L'Harmattan, Coll. "Visual Fields", 1998, page 50.

55  Jacques Fontanille, Semiotics of the speech, Limoges, PULIM, Coll. "New Acts Semiotic", 2003, page 291.

56  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

57  Lucien Millet, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

58  Jacques Damourette and Edouard Pichon, From Words to thinking: Test Grammar of the French Language, 1911-1940, Paris, Editions Artrey, 1932, page 433.

59  Hélène Gauvenet (directed by), Pedagogy of reported speech, Paris, Didier, Coll. "VIC Collection", 1976, page 9.

60  Lucien Millet, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

61  Jenny Simonin-Grumbach, "For a typology of discourse", In Julia Kristeva, Jean-Claude Milner and Nicolas Ruwet (directed by), Language, Discourse, Society, "For Emile Benveniste," Volume 1, Paris, Seuil, Coll. "Points", 1975, page 242.

62  Lucien Millet, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

63 Idem.

64  Mikhaïl Bakhtin, Marxism and the philosophy of language, "Application Tests of sociological method in linguistics," Paris, Minuit, Coll. "Common sense" reissued in 1977, page 116.

65 Idem.

66  Josette Rey-Debove, Metalanguage: Linguistic Study of the discourse on language, Volume 1, Paris, Le Robert dictionaries, Coll. "The Order of the words" Paris, 1978, page 215.

67  Lucien Millet, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

68  Maurice Laugaa, "The story of list", in French Studies, Number 14, 1978, page 175. In URI : http://id.erudit.org/iderudit/036668ar. Article read October 15, 2012. Reread June 9, 2013.

69  Claude Levi-Strauss, The Origin of Table Manners, Paris, Plon, Coll. "Mythologicals", 1968, page 105.

70 Idem.

71  Lucien Millet, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

72  Patrick Charaudeau, The media information discourse, "The construction of social mirror," Paris, Nathan / INA Collection "Media Research", 1997, page 235.

73  Jean-Jacques Boutaud, Semiotics and Communication, Paris, L'Harmattan, Coll. "Visual Fields", 1998, page 61.

74  Guy Lochard, The information televised, "Mutations professional and citizen issues," Paris, CLEMI-Vuibert-Ina, Coll. "Understanding Media", 2005, page 107.

75 Op.cit., page 113.

76  Judith Jasmin, Camera 68, Radio Canada, April 10, 1968, 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

77  Jean-Jacques Boutaud, Semiotics and Communication, Paris, L'Harmattan, Coll. "Visual Fields", 1998, page 61.

78  Op.cit., page 67.

Pour citer ce document

Claver Bibang, «Language and society», French Journal for Media Research [en ligne], Conference Proceedings/Actes de colloques, Minorities and media/Minorités et médias, mis à jour le : 08/05/2016, URL : http://frenchjournalformediaresearch.com/index.php?id=913.

Quelques mots à propos de :  Claver Bibang

Docteur en Sciences de l’Information et de la Communication, Spécialiste en
Sémiotique et Analyse des discours médiatiques
Institut de la Communication et des Médias, Université de la Sorbonne nouvelle
Paris 3 / Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche sur les Médias (GERMÉDIAS) – France
claver.bibang@gmail.com