Hierarchies of information inclusion, omission and (re)presentation of society and its citizenry is a critical aspect of news presentation.
This paper looks at newspaper reportage of two tragic events in
2015: a balcony collapse in Berkeley, USA, in which six Irish students died; and a fire at a halting site in Carrickmines, Ireland, which claimed the lives of four adults and six children who were members of the Irish Traveller community. This latter group are an
officially recognised indigenous ethnic minority within Irish society, and the community experiences the type of structural inequalities and stigmatisation associated with membership of less powerful groups within a broader society. A bottom-up corpus linguistic methodology is used to generate and interpret perspectives on the newspaper coverage to probe and to assess similarities and, critically, diff
erences, in the nature of the
discourses surrounding the communities affected by the
tragedies. In doing so, it finds the language used in the reportage
could be argued to feed into a subtle
‘othering’. It is also suggested that a tendency to distance or depersonalise when reporting on events involving minorities in a way that has implications connected to legitimation and perpetuation of unequal power relationships.