Like Icarus to the Sun: A Linguist to a Newspaper

The Sun has a chequered history in politics, though primarily has always championed the cause of the Conservatives; famously supporting them in the 1992 General Election.

 It made a name for itself as a brash and vulgar publication that captured the voice of the working class.



Format: Tabloid

Political Views: Right wing, Conservative

It billed itself as “the newspaper born of the age we live in.”

It was designed to tap into the lifestyle changes of the 60s – the rise of the young and upwardly-mobile, including career-oriented women. In 1978 the Sun overtook the Mirror to become Britain’s biggest-selling daily paper – and it also became the most influential, setting an irreverent tabloid agenda that was to rub off both on broadsheets and broadcasters in years to come.

The Sun rewrote the tabloid rulebook and “Wot Won It” for the Tories in the 1992 General Election.

During the 80’s (The Thatcher years) the Sun newspaper was a firm advocate for the Conservative party, in particular during the 1992 election. However in the later nineties and early 00’s it did flip in support of Blair, under Murdoch’s ownership,  though in recent years has returned to its true colours.


Discourse Analysis of A Sun Article

Title: ‘Tories in ‘4’ subs’ vow on Trident

Author: Tom Newton Dunn

sun article analysis


The surrounding articles are also focusing on the General Election; above the article is another story headlined ‘Dave’s Darlings,’ showing support for the Conservatives and David Cameron.

The layout of the page is informal; overlaying text boxes break the strict column structure normally seen in a newspaper.



The phrasing ‘Nukes’ is colloquial demonstrating the conversational tone of the article. It grabs the attention of the reader, fulfilling the purpose of what a headline should do.

It uses  loaded language such as ‘slapped down’ and ‘will force’ creates strong mental imagery in the reader’s mind. The vulgar tone to the paper speaks in a way similar to that of their readers.

They use words like ‘commit’ when referring to the Conservative party; which is a direct opposite of how they refer to Labour. This improves the position of the Conservatives by making them look positive and confident in comparison.

By playing on categorical relationships (Berger and Luckman, 1976) between words the journalist is able to manipulate the way the reader engages with the text, possibly so it could be read in a desired way.

Repeating the word ‘will’ throughout reinforces this; it creates an image of certainty and solidity surrounding the Conservatives.

The article ridicules Miliband, using the nickname ‘Red Ed’ to refer to him. This is an allusion to the colour of his party, but also to someone who would be blushing due to embarrassment.



Short sentences form the majority of the article, with a single sentence making up an entire paragraph, which is typical of a newspaper. This makes the text easier to follow.  

Most of the sentences used as simple such as ‘he will say’ as this is the easiest and shortest way to introduce quotations. It also acts as clear discursive markers for the reader to follow and understand what is going on.



The articles takes an instructive tone with the audience, leading to a sense of pressure that it is telling its readers what to do. They present the Conservative party as a common sense vote, over-playing key values of western society and making the conservative party fit into those categories.

It persuades the audience into believing the Conservatives are representative of their individual values and cares.

It also plays upon our society’s value of power by using language like ‘slapped down’ to make Miliband appear weak.

By using statistics and numbers as evidence to support the points being made in the article to make the article appear well informed and a reliable source of superior knowledge that a reader can trust.  

It offers no counter view in the text, only the perspective that they disapprove of Labour’s plans and they actually write to persuade their audience into believing the same. 



 ‘The Sun’ uses the brash language; often relating to sex and violence in their metaphors and adjectives. This may be because they view them as the key interests of their audience.

They also use informal graphology that combined with their heavy use of puns, short sentences and simple vocabulary gives their articles a playful and colloquial tone.

The article demonstrates a political preference for the Conservative party; they often ridiculed Miliband by using dysphemistic language and nicknames to skew the audience’s perception of him, therefore eliminating the Conservative’s competition.

It skews the objectivity of the article, using personal attacks and opinions and taunting instead of relying on the facts of the situation. It seems they are more interested in insulting Ed Miliband and gossiping; than they are of informing their audience on the political events this article is referring to.








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