OPINION VERSUS NEUTRAL REPORTING: THE CASE OF SELECTED HEADINGS OF NEWSPAPER ARTICLES IN VARIOUS ONLINE NEWSPAPERS IN SOUTH AFRICA
Article headings or titles in a newspaper are vital components of every newspaper because they among other things, market the newspaper or arouse interest. The decision to read a newspaper article is usually dependent upon how one engage and understand the title or the heading. However, the problem arises when the article’s heading or title is written in such a manner that it is pro or against a certain subject matter. In other words, it is partisan or biased towards a certain group. It is sometimes not easy to detect bias because it is sometimes surreptitious. It is common that journalists should strive to report news in a fair, impartial and objective manner. However, it will be shown in this paper that some reporters have a challenge of reporting in a fair, non-partisan and objective manner. This study investigated if some articles headings in various newspapers contain elements of bias. Thus, this article reports on the findings of desktop study about bias in the headings of online newspaper articles. The data comes from various specifically selected article headings. Principles from Discourse Analysis and Sentiment Analysis were used to develop a conceptual framework and to provide a foundation for this study. Evidence of violation of English linguistic grammar rules with the purpose of creating bias was found. Overall, the study confirmed that indeed there is bias in some of the headings of these newspaper articles The findings reported in this study have implications for writing pedagogy for departments of Journalism and Media Studies in Institutions of Higher Learning in South Africa.