Argumentation in Journalism
  • ISSN 2211-4742
  • E-ISSN: 2211-4750
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Compared to other domains of media discourse, economic-financial news contain a considerable amount of speech acts regarding future events, in particular predictions. This can be explained by their specific institutional context, financial markets, where investors constantly seek to single out gain opportunities and to correctly assess their risk. One of the crucial factors making economic-financial predictions worthy of being considered in investment decisions is argumentation, in particular the extent to which the predicted proposition follows from a plausible and acceptable reasoning. Starting from a corpus of 50 articles of the Italian economic-financial press, we consider the inferential dimension of prediction-oriented arguments, focusing on the , i.e. the ontological relation on which the connection between the argument(s) and the predictive conclusion rests. All predictions found in the corpus were manually annotated with the software . For each of them we identified the source, which could be either the journalist him/herself or a third party, typically financial analysts or corporate actors. We distinguished mere predictive opinions from predictive standpoints, i.e. predictions for which the journalist advances one or more supportive arguments (either confirmatory of refutatory). For the latter category, we identified the locus referring to an adaptation of the taxonomy outlined by Rigotti (2009). The findings highlight in particular the following three interesting aspects: (1) in predictions, journalists reinforce their stance by plausible justifications, but weaken it at the same time by marking it as uncertain and/or by using reported speech or evidential means to reduce their responsibility for the predictive speech act; (2) the justification of a predictive standpoint, by the journalist or by third parties, is mostly based on loci of causality, in particular on the , the and complex forms of causality where the involvement of rational agents is implied but defocused; (3) moreover, journalists refer to the predictive opinions of experts or corporate insiders to activate the either by explicit argumentation or implicitly, by reporting speech from reliable sources. Our study suggests that the role of predictions in financial news is not so much that of giving any straightforward advice to investors, but rather that of providing chunks of sound argumentative reasoning, including both supportive evidence and rebuttals or refutatory moves, that the investor-reader might apply and combine in the highly uncertain context of financial markets. Overall, our findings shed light on how financial journalists fulfil the function of information intermediaries in finance.


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