Social Actor Representation of the Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Malaysian and Foreign News Reports: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Arlini binti Alias, Nora Mohd Nasir


The objective of this study is to examine the linguistic representation of social actors in the selected Malaysian and foreign news reports on the circulated event of the missing MAS flight MH370. Despite extensive studies of news discourse, less attention is paid on how news event are speculated and the extent the social actors are relegated. Hence, the study explores the role of newspaper editorials in promoting stereotypical depictions through the representation of self- and other- in their reporting of the MH370 tragedy. The study retrieved a total of fifty (50) news reports of the missing MAS flight MH370 incident from ten news press, twenty-five (25) published by five local (Malaysian) English newsagents: The Star, New Straits Times, Sun Daily, Malaysian Insider and Malaysiakini, and twenty-five (25) others from five foreign newsagents: Daily Mail (UK), The Guardian (UK), Washington Post, New York Times and USA Today. The corpora were collected from March 8, 2014, to November 5, 2014, and analysed using Van Dijk’s (1998) Ideological Square framework, as well as Reisigl and Wodak (2000) Discursive Strategies. The analysis of this study discovers evidence of the “intergroup bias” made by the selected news press in representing the MH370 social actors. The selected news press displays an overt preference for own group and obvious demotion of the other group. The study also reveals the occurrence of lexicalization of the ‘other’ in the foreign news reports indicating positive representation of their in-group and exhibiting apparent disapproval of the actions by the out-group. On the other hand, the analysis also reveals an impartial representation of the MH370 social actor by the local news press both for in-group and out-group.


Aviation Crisis, MH370, News Discourse, Social Actor Representation

Full Text:



Andersen, R. S. (2012). Remediating #iranelection. Journalism Practice, 6(3), 317-336. doi:10.1080/17512786.2012.663593

Afsar, A., & Mahmood, K. (2017). The Ideological Representation of “self” and “other” in Post 9/11 Discourse in British Newspapers. University of Birmingham. URL

Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language. London: Longman.

Khaghaninezhad, M. S., & Rostami, M. (2014). Investigating the Role of Discourse Structures in Gender Representation in Los Angeles Times and Tehran Times. International Journal of Linguistics, 6(1), 84. doi:10.5296/ijl.v6i1.4892

Koller, V. (2009). Analysing collective identity in discourse: social actors and contexts. Revue de semio-linguistique des textes et discours, 27. URL :

MH370: Bad weather hinders search for missing plane after new satellite images. (2014, March 23). The Guardian. Retrieved on June 18, 2015 from:

MH370: Chinese planes spot 'white objects' in search area – reports. (2014, March 24). The Guardian. Retrieved on June 18, 2015 from:

MH370 Tragedy: Malaysia has done its level best. (2014, April 4). New Straits Times. Retrieved on May 23, 2015.

MH370 Tragedy: RM14.2m compensation paid to next-of-kin of passengers. (2014, May 6). New Straits Times. Retrieved on May 23, 2015 from:

MISSING MH370: EXCLUSIVE: Flying as low as 80 feet 'possible. '(2014, March 19). New Straits Times. Retrieved on May 23, 2015 from:

Missing MH370: Bomoh’s method contradict Islam, says Jakim.(2014, March 12). The Star. Retrieved on June 2, 2015 from:

Missing MH370: Imposters “not Asian-looking,” says DCA chief. (2014, March 10). The Star. Retrieved on June 2, 2015 from:

MISSING MH370: “Plane flew low to avoid radar”. (2014, March 17). New Straits Times. Retrieved on May 23, 2015.

Razzaq, S. K. A. (2012). Discourse Analysis of the Representation of Migrant Workers in the Star Online Newspaper, Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences (AJHSS), 1 (3).

Reisigl, M., & Wodak, R. (2000). The discourse-historical approach: Methods for Critical Discourse, 63-94. doi:10.4135/9780857028020.n4

Sodano, V. (2013). Pros and Cons of the Bioeconomy: A Critical Appraisal of Public Claims through Critical Discourse Analysis. In Proceedings of the Second Congress, Parma, Italy, 6–7 June 2013.

Van Dijk, T.A. (1980). Macrostructures: An Interdisciplinary Study of Global Structures in Discourse, Interaction, and Cognition. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum.

Van Djik, T.A (1988). News Analysis: Case Study of International and National News in the Press. Erlbuam: Hillsdale, New Jersey.

Van Djik, T.A. (1995). Power and the news media. Political communication and action, pp 9-36.

Van Djik, T.A. (1998). Opinion and Ideology in the Press. In Bell, A., and Garrett, P. (eds). Approaches to Media Discourse. Oxford: Blackwell. pp 21-63.

Van Djik, T.A. (2000). Critical discourse studies: A sociocognitive approach. In Wodak, R. and Meyer, M. (eds.), Methods for critical discourse analysis. London: Sage Publication.

Van Djik, T.A. (2001). Critical discourse analysis. In Schiffrin, D., Tannen, D., and Hamilton, H.E. (eds.). The handbook of discourse analysis, 349-371. John Wiley & Sons.

Van Djik, T.A. (2006). Politics, ideology and Discourse. Barcelona: Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

Van Djik, T.A. (2012). News as discourse. London: Routledge.

Van Djik, T.A. (2015). Racism and the press. London: Routledge.

van Leeuwen, T. (1996). The Representation of Social Actors. In Caldas-Coulthard, C.R., & Coulthard, M (eds), Texts and Practices: Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge. pp 32-70.

Wodak, R. (2001). The Discourse-historical Approach. In Wodak, R., & Meyer, M. (eds.), Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. pp 63-95.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2021 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.