Logos: Revista de Lingüística, Filosofía y Literatura

2012, 22 (2) 4-26


The Chilean Student Movement and the Media: A comparative analysis on the linguistic representation of the 04 August, 2011 manifestation in right-wing and left-wing newspapers


El Movimiento Estudiantil Chileno y la Prensa: Un análisis comparativo de la representación lingüística de la manifestación del 4 de agosto de 2011 en periódicos de derecha e izquierda.


Carolina Pérez Arredondo1

1 MA in Discourse Studies, Lancaster University cperez.arredondo@gmail.com




Este artículo es parte de la tesis que entregué a la Universidad de Lancaster, Inglaterra para obtener el grado de Magíster en Estudios del Discurso y ha sido modificado para cumplir con las limitaciones de espacio requeridas por esta revista. Este estudio analiza la forma en la cual el movimiento estudiantil chileno fue lingüísticamente construido y representado por periódicos políticamente adversos (El Siglo y El Mercurio, respectivamente) durante una de las protestas más violentas y reprimidas de agosto, 2011. Realicé un análisis crítico de la cobertura escrita de dicha manifestación usando el Enfoque Discurso-Histórico creado por Dr. Ruth Wodak y Dr. Martin Reisigl, utilizando simultáneamente distintos enfoques usados en las ciencias sociales para el estudio de los movimientos sociales tales como sociología, estudios sobre medios de comunicación y la lingüística para lograr los objetivos de mi investigación. Mientras que el sesgo ideológico de estos medios comunicacionales es incuestionable al cubrir movimientos sociales, este estudio también evidencia las grandes diferencias de poder cuando se trata de manejar y entregar información al público en Chile. Además, el análisis lingüístico de este tema social ofrece ejemplos detallados de la forma en la cual distintos medios de comunicación eligen deslegitimizar movimientos sociales para así preservar el status quo y, por ende, las relaciones desiguales de poder.



Palabras clave: Movimiento estudiantil chileno (2011); Análisis Crítico del Discurso (ACD); Enfoque Discurso-Histórico (DHA); Paradigma Mediático de la Protesta Social.



This paper is part of the MA dissertation I submitted to Lancaster University and has been modified to conform to space constrains. This article examines how the Chilean student movement was linguistically constructed in leftist and rightist newspapers (El Siglo and El Mercurio, respectively) during one of the most violent and repressive demonstrations in August, 2011. I carry out a critical analysis of the coverage of this demonstration using Ruth Wodak and Martin Resisgl’s Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA) for the analysis of the written texts. I draw on different approaches to the understanding of social movements from different social sciences such as sociology, media studies and linguistics to fulfil the objectives of my research. While this dissertation provides further evidence of the ideological bias in media coverage of social protests, it also  vidences the unequal power relations when it comes to Access and deliver information in Chile. Furthermore, the linguistic approach to this social issue offers detailed examples of the linguistic choices commonly used to bluntly delegitimize social movements so as to further perpetuate unequal relations of power.


Keywords: Chilean student movement (2011); Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA); Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA); Protest Paradigm.


1 Introduction

Although the coverage of social movements by the media has been widely analysed in both sociological and media studies alike, few have approached it from a linguistic perspective (Colorado, 2011: 3). The applica- tion of methods of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) seems, therefore, use- ful as it aims at exposing unequal power relations in society and contributes

to the understanding of how the media shape reality (Mautner, 2008: 32).

Onasimilarvein, theanalysisofimagesisofvitalimportanceintextsbecause they complement what words transmit (van Leeuwen, 2008). Therefore, I decided to carry out a linguistic and visual qualitative critical analysis on rightist and leftist newspaper articles to identify how the different social actors involved in the ´Chilean Winter´ were constructed in one of the most violent protests since the dictatorship (04 August, 2011).


Nevertheless, I only address the results of the linguistic analysis in this article in the need to conform to space constraints. You can refer to the visual analysis and results of these texts in my MA dissertation (Pérez, 2012).


This study addresses the following interlinked research questions:

RQ1: How did both rightist and leftist newspapers represent and construct the identity of the 2011 Chilean student movement in the demonstration of 04 August?

RQ1.1: How are the social actors and the student movement linguistically constructed and represented in the selected newspaper articles?

RQ1.2: How is agency represented and to whom is it attributed in the selected newspaper articles?

RQ1.3: Whataretheattributeswithwhichthesenewspaperarticlesconstruct and represent the student movement and the social actors involved?

RQ2: Are there any differences and/or similarities in the aforementioned linguistic construction and representations of the student movements and its social actors? If yes, how do they reflect the newspaper stance towards the conflict?


The following is a brief account of the data and methodology of my study as well as the results of the linguistic analysis. I also present some concluding remarks as well as suggestions for further research that stem from my analysis.

2 Data and Methodology

I selected the main articles covering the student demonstrations of 4 August, 2011, published on the next day in El Mercurio (a daily rightist newspaper) and El Siglo (a leftist weekly). Although the main article in El Siglo included events prior to the analyzed protest, I only analyzed the last two sections called “The government panics” and “A black Thursday”, which directly refer to the events taking place on the 04 August. The articles and pieces of news from El Mercurio account for 2,829 words whereas the news article from El Siglo accounts for 1,4361.


I collected my data electronically. However, since El Mercurio is only available for members, I could only get a digital copy of this issue from the National Archive in the Chilean National Library. I then carried out a qualitative analysis of texts in the light of the Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA) (Reisigl and Wodak, 2001).


2.1.   The   Discourse-Historical   Approach   (DHA):   Referential, Predicational and Perspectivation Strategies.


Among the different  strategies  this  approach  considers,  the  DHA  aims at identifying five different linguistic strategies  used  in  positive  self  - and negative other presentation, namely referential, predicational, argumentation, intensification/mitigation, and perspectivation strategies (Wodak and Meyer, 2009: 93-94; see also Reisigl and Wodak (2001) for a more detailed explanation). For the purposes of this research I only considered referential, predicational and perspectivation strategies in the need to conform to space limitations.


Referential strategies.

These aim at identifying the way social actors are linguistically represented in a text. Some of the strategies proposed by van Leeuwen have been used and adapted by the DHA to complement this step (Reisigl and Wodak, 2001:44). On this understanding I classified the findings into different referential strategies such as exclusion, inclusion, collectivisation, criminalization, etc.


Predicational strategies.

These are used to  assign  qualities  and  to“[label]  social  actors  more or  less  positively  or  negatively,  deprecatorily  or  appreciatively”,  thus



1                     The total amount of words of the article accounts for 2,442


complementing referential strategies (Reisigl & Wodak, 2001: 45).

In this analysis I only considered nouns (phrases), adjectives (phrases), adverbs, verbs, implications and rhetorical figures most associated with the student movement and its leaders.


Perspectivation strategies.

These aim at the identification of the perspective from which a text is being constructed. It is the way a text is framed, “by which speakers express their involvement in discourse, and position their point of view” (Reisigl

& Wodak, 2001: 44). In media studies, this term can be found by the name of protest paradigm (Chan & Lee, 1984; Shoemaker, 1984; McLeod, 2007; Colorado, 2011). They both reflect the perspective newspapers are written from, which might help understand certain linguistic choices in the texts thus evidencing (unequal) power relations. Important elements considered in the analysis were framing strategies and the identification of involvement and/or detachment strategies to report the demonstration (Section 4).


3 Linguistic analysis


I analyze each newspaper individually in terms of the linguistic features presented in the methodology section. All the extracts and examples provided in this section are the closest translation to the English language 2. Conversely, I provide an explanation of the Spanish term. The interpretations of this analysis as well as the inclusion of the theoretical

framework of this research are presented in Section 4.

3.1. El Mercurio

There is a varied use of referential strategies (further reinforced by predicational ones) to identify the different social actors involved in the demonstration, as shown in the following table:











2                     It is worth mentioning that the examples in this section have been personally translated. Nevertheless, the examples provided in the Appendix 1 are presented in Spanish.





Table 1: Referential strategies used in El Mercurio.


There is a clear militarisation of the demonstrations, in which it is possible to identify a confrontation between opposite sides. While the (positively constructed) police force - and thus the government - tried to protect the city, the protesters were violently occupying different parts of the city, leaving different victims of this confrontation (citizenship). There is a recurrent use of the name of authorities (city mayors and ministers) and governmental institutions, justifying the actions undertaken by the police (who are described as professionals) and condemning the protesters’ actions6 . This is reinforced by the testimonies of ‘regular citizens’ affected by the protests, emphasizing the impact on children, residents and commerce. Interestingly,



3                     “Apoderado(a)” refers to the legal tutor of students. It is usually one of the student’s parents.

4                     “Encapuchado” literally means “a hoodie”. In Chile, it is socially associated to vandals and anarchists who appear in protests to destroy public property.

5                     “Detenido” is a noun which identifies someone who has been taken under arrest.

6                     Topos of authority (see Reisigl and Wodak, 2001: 79-80).



all these social actors are formally nominalised by their first and last name, providing a sense of veracity to the article.


This is opposed to the (negative) construction of the protesters. Although criminonyms are rarely used, the actionyms and professionyms used to identify them are recurrently associated with negative attributes (see predicational strategies below). In a similar vein, the demonstration itself is criminalised and distinguished as an agent of destruction and violence. The collective criminonyms identifying the movement are used metonymically to indiscriminately refer to the protesters and “encapuchados” alike. This is particularly true when these nouns were personified as moving from one place to another while violently destroying public property (examples a) and b), Appendix 1.1). Finally, they do not seem to be represented as a legitimate organization, except for the use of the acronym Confech (Confederation of Chilean Students) once.


The police: protectors of the city and its citizens

One of the most salient features when describing the police is the emphasis on the lack of physical contact between the former and the protesters. While in some cases tear gas and water cannons were the means by which the police controlled the protest, there were some others in which no further information about the police actions was provided.


1.       Special Forces blocked the way to anyone who came from the east, around Condell Avenue. The few who managed to get to the statue of José Manuel Balmaceda displayed a banner which said “No more profit [in education]”. Carabineros asked them to retreat, but the youngsters did not do so and were dispersed and arrested. After 40 minutes of skirmish, chasing around and an intense use of tear gas, Carabineros managed to secure the area and prevent students from occupying Alameda.

2.       As they did in the morning, Carabineros once more prevented the occupation and the march through Alameda.

3.       One of the most conflictive street corners was Marcoleta and Portugal, where there are two universities, in which for at least an hour Carabineros confronted “encapuchados” who erected barricades and set on fire a security booth.


Verbs stress the lack of physical contact among these actors such as “blocked”, “dispersed”, “[intense] use [of tear gas]” and “prevented”. Even “confront” does not imply physical contact (Example 3). However, there are no explanations or details of how the police actually prevented the student march from happening (Example 2). It is only stressed that the police acted in a similar way as in the morning, without going into further detail. In

addition, the riot police are also constructed as being open to dialogue with the students. Despite students acting against the law, the police first advised them to retreat and leave the place before arresting them. As the protesters did not do so, they ‘had to be’ dispersed (again, avoiding physicality) and detained.


Another important feature to consider is the different roles the police assumed during the protests. They not only controlled and dispersed the crowd of (violent) students occupying the city, but they were also victims of the protesters’ attacks. Firstly, there is a significant contrast between the number of injured police and the number of protesters or civilians physically affected by the protests (example c), Appendix 1.1). Secondly, there is also an emphasis on the ways these attacks against the police were carried out. For example, police were attacked with “more than 50 petrol bombs”; “balls of steel”; “stones and bottles full of paint”. Finally, the negative impact of the protest on both the police and civilians is further supported by the inclusion of comments of regular citizens being affected by the protest in general (examples d), e) and f), Appendix 1.1).


It is on this understanding that the authority publicly legitimizes the police actions:


4.       The excesses were monitored by the mayor, Cecilia Pérez. “This is a difficult situation, which we would have never wished for; this is why we provided all the means and opportunities, and Carabineros have acted under the code which identifies them, as

professional police, which today allows us to state that we have no injured civilians”.



Both the government and the police are represented as part of an alliance, whose main concern is to protect civilians. The mayor even expresses her disappointment with the movement as she highlights that the government (and apparently the police as well) gave the students a way out of this confrontation. The use of the words ‘civilians’ is interesting as it seems to exclude the protesters. For example, the government’s spokesman Mr. Chadwick regrets that the citizenship  and  people  who  were  downtown during the protests had to suffer the consequences of applying the law to the protesters (example g), Appendix 1.1). There is therefore a clear reinforcement of the positive representation of the alliance between the

police and the government.  The advocates of protests

The most salient characteristics associated with students and protesters were their violence (and arms), intransigence, their threatening tone, rebelliousness and even their emotionality:


5.       The government estimated around five thousand protesters tried to march through Alameda, despite the authority’s prohibition.

6.       “I have been more than a month on strike and I do not care about losing the academic year. There is no way back, and if they [the government] want protests every day, so be it”, Rodrigo González, student from San Miguel, irately complained while his younger brother was being arrested by Carabineros near Salvador subway station.

7.       Most of them [protesters] were arrested on the charges of disturbances and illegal possession of weapons and explosive devices.

8.       “If each one of you dropped your cameras and took stones instead, this shit [the educational system] would be better”, yelled a youngster on Portugal and Marcoleta street corners.



The fact that the protest was not authorized by the government is stressed throughout the article, as well as the violent acts carried out by the protesters (students and protesters are indiscriminately constructed as belonging to the same violent group destroying public property and attacking the police force). For example, the article quotes two different protesters who fiercely call for resistance (example 6) and for violence, pledging that it is the only way of changing the situation (example 8). Similarly, they are presented as being armed, stating that most of the arrests were for that reason (more than 500 protesters were arrested). There is an emphasis on how protesters are recurrently associated with violence and destruction of public property (examples h), i), j) and k), Appendix 1.1 among others; there is even one section in an article completely devoted to listing the damages in different cities).


There are two instances in which students/protesters are not negatively constructed. Nevertheless, they seem to be presented as an exception: a guitar player (who played as a sign of protest to the violence of the day) and a mime artist (who spoke so as to inform the police that he and the students

were also fighting for their children).


In addition, students and protesters are constructed as undermining the status quo and defying the government, thus highlighting the conflictive nature of the movement (example m), Appendix 1.1). In this, student leaders give the Minister of Education and the government an ultimatum to change their proposal of an educational reform. Similarly, they also accused the Minister of the Interior of “violating their constitutional rights” and of being responsible for the violence of the day (interestingly, the article only mentioned that they were just  “watered”  by  the  police,  excluding any reference to physical repression against students). The government’s answer was to reprehend students, reminding them that their proposal was final, adding that they should not acknowledge the government in such an authoritarian tone. In a similar vein, there is an attempt to delegitimize the student leaders in another section of the article, although this will be fully analyzed in Section 4.


3.2 El Siglo


The article is written around distinguishable antagonistic social actors: on the one hand, the government and the police; on the other, the student movement and the Chilean citizenship:


Table 2: Referential strategies used in El Siglo.

There is a clear emphasis on the collective and organisational nature of the government as these noun phrases are recurrently used in the text. Nevertheless, the most recurrent expression to refer to the government was the name and/or the professionym of the Minister of Interior, Rodrigo Hinzpeter. The most likely explanation for this linguistic choice is because one of the minister’s responsibilities is to coordinate the actions of the police. As the police were popularly condemned by the repression exercised that day, Minister Hinzpeter was therefore held responsible as well. This is stressed by the emphasis on representing the government as authoritarian and intransigent (see table 2).


This is opposed to the representation of the student movement, where there is an emphasis on its social, young and collective nature. The emphasis on the movement’s young nature is particularly important when describing the target of the police repression. Furthermore, this is also important when highlighting its social nature by the support of different social actors (not only students). This seems to counteract the recurrent delegitimization of both the government and the media, stating that most students want to go back to classes (Infobae, 11 October, 2011). Similarly, the inclusive “we” reflects the popular support for the protests by the citizenship, and reinforces the antagonistic relationship between the movement and the government (apparently accusing it of not listening to its people).


The antagonistic force: the government and the police


The government is presented in constant antagonism toward the student movement as well as being authoritarian and intransigent.


1.       On Wednesday morning, the Minister of Interior, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, announced to the media that “the time of marching is over” and that they were not going to allow another march through Alameda. In addition, he asked leaders not to call for demonstrations the government did not approve of. Later at the Congress, he stated that the rise of victimization rates among the citizenship and the perception of crime was precisely because of the student demonstrations and the television. Just like that.

2.       Jaime Gajardo7 answered (…) “I think Hinzpeter is acting as arrogantly as the powerful groups in our country and that is a pity, because he thinks he is the owner of Chile (…)



7                     President of the Teachers’ Union



the worst path that they can choose now is to criminalize movements, stigmatize them, embracing confrontation which is a path with no way out and that cannot be undone. The government must understand that while there is no agreement, mobilisations will

not stop”.


“The time of marching is over” reflects the authoritarian tone of the Minister’s declaration. While quotation marks denote that these were his actual words, it also denotes a certain intransigence regarding the student movement. His stance is further supported by the message he delivered at the Congress, where he openly stated that crime  and  victimization rates have increased because of the student protests8. Similarly, Minister Hinzpeter asks students not to organize marches the government does not approve of. Considering freedom of speech is a constitutional right in Chile, this statement not only seems to reflect the government stance towards the student movement, but also his own opinion as the one responsible for the Chilean police force.


Example 2 is rather different as it is a quotation from the President of the Teachers’ Union on how he regards the Minister as well as the government. They are constructed as being arrogant, authoritarian (believing they are the owners of the country) and approaching the student conflict from the wrong perspective, which is emphasized by Gajardo’s comments on the criminalization of the movement. Although no social actor is explicitly

mentioned in this sentence (a characteristic feature of Spanish), the verb is conjugated using the third person plural form (they) which embodies the government and authorities in general.


Consequently, the differentiation Camila Vallejo makes about the people in the government is of particular importance:


3.       Our fundamental rights as citizens have been violated; besides, Carabineros were using very strong tear gases and it worries me that the right [wing] party in the government is using the same methods of the dictatorship.


The president of the student’s association makes a clear reference to the presence of the extreme right party (polarisation) in the government who openly (have) supported the dictatorship. Nevertheless, this appeal to that political sector is to stress both the violation of the students’ constitutional right to protest and the repression suffered by students that day. Also,



8                     This is also an argumentation strategy, ‘post hoc, ergo propter hoc’ fallacy –“i.e. A before B, therefore B because of A” (Reisigl and Wodak, 2001: 73). However, it cannot be further analyzed in order to conform to space limitations and the objectives of this research.



she seems to blame this particular sector for the repression and violent methods used by the police against protesters as well as the government for legitimizing the police actions.


Similarly, Jaime Gajardo reinforces the association between the government and the repression carried out by the police:


4.       “It [police actions] is extremely violent and violates our personal, constitutional and ethical rights. It seems as if we are in a state of siege; it is unbelievable to see carabineros strongly armed in downtown Santiago which reflect the government’s approach to our demands (...) what they want is to highlight violence, to talk about public property destruction, of injured people (...) instead of talking about the educational issues we and all Chile wants to start to debate and build.”


Expressions such as “a state of siege” (which cognitively associates the situation with the dictatorship), “very violent” and “strongly armed” reinforce the negative representation of the police, and thus the government. Furthermore, Mr. Gajardo accuses the government of being authoritarian, trying to bluntly delegitimize the movement. This also refers to the fact that the government does not seem to be representative of its people, as had been evidenced in recent popularity polls. This reflects a clear aim to delegitimize the government through the actions of the police (see Section 4).


The voice of the people: the student movement

Predicational strategies in this text positively construct the student movement as being determined to achieve their goals as well as being victims of (unjustified) police repression.


5.       (...) however, none of their [government’s] alternatives were convincing enough to make the mobilised sectors back down.

6.       “(…) we will gather anyway and will march through the streets of Santiago. In this moment Carabineros discriminate against us by our hair, school bag packs, age, by anything and do not allow youngsters to freely walk in the city, but we are not going to give up or back down and we will march through the streets of Santiago”.

7.       (...) when Jaime Gajardo, Camila Vallejo, Camilo Ballesteros and other leaders were just getting to the place, the police acted without provocation and, by means of water cannons and tear gas, dispersed the small group that had managed to gather there. As they could, they escaped from the police repression and after getting their breath back, they talked to El Siglo.


It is through the use of verbs such as “(not to) back down”, “not going to

give up” and adverbs such as “anyway” in Examples 4 and 5 that students show their determination to achieve their objectives and carry on with the protest. They justify their determination by appealing to their constitutional right (“they do not allow us to walk freely on the streets”), which is also a recurrent argument to delegitimize the actions of the government and the police (see Section 4).


On the other hand, Example 6 reflects the variety of linguistic choices used to reinforce the idea of victimization and passivity facing the police repression. First, the adverb “just” and the adverbial phrase “without provocation” strengthen both the idea of passivity and the peaceful nature of their gathering. It seems to even suggest a certain persecution as the leaders were attacked “just” when they got to their meeting point. This is further evidenced by the use of verbs such as “managed”, “escape from [police repression]” and phrases like “as they could” or “getting their breath back” which suggest the difficulty students had to face in getting to their meeting point.


There are two features that are worth mentioning at this point. On the one hand, the student movement was never associated with the violent acts taking place that day. The article mentions that there were barricades in the morning, although there is an exclusion of the people behind these acts (example a), Appendix 1.2). However, it was pointed that the barricades were “violently repressed by the police”, thus providing another example of repression by the police. On the other hand, the article finishes with a clear legitimization of the students’ actions and of their demands, which will be carefully examined in Section 4.


4  What  really  did  happen?  Perspectivation  and  the  protest paradigm.


There are significant differences in the coverage of this event by El Mercurio and El Siglo, which simultaneously suggest differences in their own construction of reality. These differences are summarized in Table 3, which includes the characteristic features found in newspapers when covering social conflict, the protest paradigm.


Although the same characteristics are used to report this demonstration, these newspapers differ in identifying  who the criminals are.  While El Mercurio reinforces the idea of protesters as violent, destroying public property and attacking the police force, El Siglo criminalizes the government and the police, accusing them of violating their human and constitutional rights.



Table 3: The protest paradigm


This is evidenced by the sources used to support their claims and including what ‘the people’ think, which are very common characteristics of how mainstream media legitimizes the status quo. On the one hand, El Mercurio only seems to consider the (official) opinions of the authority, namely the government which did not allow the protest. On the other hand, El Siglo considers the opinion of the leaders of the social movement, rather than those of the government. For example, the rightist newspaper uses different official sources, like the Ministry of Interior, to exemplify the level of violence reached in this protest and how it affected different cities in the region, including regular citizens. It also focuses on the number of injured police officers and (regular) civilians who were not participating in the protest. This is opposed to the leftist newspaper which focuses on how students and protesters were discriminated by their age, and violently repressed while exercising their constitutional right to protest.


The use of public opinion in El Mercurio not only includes the comments of citizens who were physically and economically affected by the unauthorized protest, but it also includes the opinions of two protesters, who were also students. What may appear as the inclusion of every social actor’s voice involved in the demonstration supports  the  negative  representation  of the student movement. These comments do not include the rationale behind the protest neither do they summarize their demands, but rather support the violent and intransigent nature this movement was depicted as, throughout the articles (see analysis). Conversely, El Siglo only included the opinions of the leaders of different social organizations supporting the student movement, reinforcing the idea of majority and unity.

These findings correlate to what the literature on the coverage of social protest states, namely, that mass media newspapers support the status quo by negatively representing the antagonistic force. With regard to the Chilean movement, the target of such delegitimization in the rightist newspaper is the student movement and its leaders. Nevertheless, it is important to consider the linguistic choices of these newspapers to delegitimize their opposing force and express their involvement and/or detachment to the reported event. It is therefore perspectivation strategies which allow the identification of ‘how’ delegitimization of social actors occurs in these newspapers9.


Apart from including comments from protesters calling for violence, and the obvious emphasis on the violent nature of the protest itself, there does not seem to be explicit expressions of delegitimization in El Mercurio. However, the short articles that complement the main article provide an insightful source to identify what the level of involvement of this newspaper is. Of particular interest are the headings: “References to the origins of Minister Hinzpeter breeds rejection10 and “Student leaders are criticized11 because they are not studying”. Despite Mr. Gajardo’s apologies for the misunderstanding of his comments, much attention was focused on this issue rather than the repression of the day, by official sources such as Minister Chadwick. Mr. Gajardo’s suitability for his position was questioned as well as his participation in the student movement. Regarding the criticism of student leaders for their academic situation, Senator Larraín openly relates them to Cuba, adding that the leaders were more worried of being invited there rather than being involved in the education conflict.


These reports are used to reinforce the negative social connotations associated with both Communism and the violence of protesters. In addition, questioning the real motifs of the student leaders also strengthens the overall negative representation of the movement. The movement is not only associated with a racist and anti-Semitic leader but also with ‘devoted’ followers of Communism.


On  the  contrary,  delegitimization  is  bluntly  expressed  throughout  El



9                     Although the literature on the protest paradigm acknowledges the importance of linguis- tic choices to delegitimize particular social actors, there is no list or guidelines to perform a detailed analysis of this characteristic. This is why I use the Discourse-Historical Approach (see Section 2).

10                  Jaime Gajardo stated that “most of the [repression] methods and techniques used today are characteristic to the Zionist movement” (line 152-154).

11                  Senator Carlos Larraín (part of the government rightist coalition) questioned the fact that both student leaders, Camila Vallejo and Giorgio Jackson intercalated to actively participate in protests.



Siglo. For example, the text included comments which only accused the government, and thus the police, of being responsible for the violence and repression of the protest. Also, it pointed to the low popular support for the current government as evidenced in political polls and the internal crisis which led to a cabinet change (example b), Appendix 1.2). Apart from this, there are certain expressions which help the reader realize the level of involvement of the newspaper in the student conflict. The following (including Example 1; Section 3.2.1) are the most direct examples of these linguistic choices:


1.       No one, not even Hinzpeter, can deny us our legitimate right to protest, especially with dull and meaningless arguments (lines 11-12).

2.       After all, the right to protest is guaranteed by the Constitution, even if La Moneda does not know (line 22).


There are two main targets of delegitimization: the Minister of Interior and the government, which seem to be treated as being the same. Similarly, the government is openly accused of not understanding the Constitution which allow people to protest (examples c), d), and e), Appendix 1.2). A topos of authority12 is used here to reflect the lack of knowledge or control of the government over the country, particularly over the student movement and democratic participation.

5 Concluding remarks

This research has shown that there are strong differences in the construction of the Chilean student movement in El Mercurio and El Siglo. However, both newspapers employ the same linguistic strategy to legitimize their ideological assumptions, namely, the exacerbation of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’13.


There is a clear distinction between which groups were acting legitimately during the aforementioned demonstration, although they differ significantly in each newspaper. For example, in terms of agency El Mercurio constructs students as agents of violence as well as in opposition to the government whereas El Siglo stresses the government’s responsibility for the (violent and repressive) actions carried out by the police against students. Similarly, referential and predicational strategies work together to strengthen the negative and/or positive representation of these social actors.


Therefore, while there is a clear criminalization of the student movement



12                  See Reisigl and Wodak, 2001.

13                  Strategies of scape-goating or victim-perpetrator inversion (Wodak et. al., 2009).



and its participants in El Mercurio, El Siglo bluntly accuses the government, particularly Mr. Hinzpeter, of using the repressive methods of the dictatorship.


These results were rather expected according to the literature on the coverage of social protests in media studies. Nevertheless, it is the explanations that stem from CDA that provide the most insightful observations. There are clear unequal displays of power in these newspapers, as evidenced by the creation of in-groups and out-groups in their articles, leading to negative attributions and the legitimization of the exclusion of certain social actors and events (Wodak, et. al. 2009; Krzyzanowski and Wodak, 2008).


The construction of the student movement by El Mercurio not only reflects and protects the status quo, but it negatively constructs the movement so as to delegitimize their actions and decisions. Being one of the most widely read newspapers in Chile (IPSOS Chile, 2011: 2), this might create prejudice towards the student movement. In a similar vein, the education issues may not be approached critically as the information is clearly biased.


I carriedoutthisresearchinthehopetocreateawarenessoftheconsequences of these apparently fossilized unequal relations of power in the media. This is particularly true in countries such as Chile, where the distribution of information is concentrated in two different holdings which get most of the funding from the government (Copesa and Grupo Edwards14), leaving other newspapers struggling for survival (Herrera, 2007; Gibbs and Parrini, 2009). The media play a decisive role in the legitimization of social actors and events, especially of the ones in powerful positions (Wodak, 2008: 56).


The struggle of the student movement to evidence the inequality in the Chilean educational system perpetuated for the last  decades  has  been met with blunt delegitimization by newspapers such as El Mercurio which support the status quo.


Although this movement seems to be supported by other newspapers such as El Siglo, they are neither massively distributed nor renowned which limits the access to information for the vast majority of the population in Chile.


Similarly, students’ role as political actors and their achievements are further undermined. Cabalin (2012: 226) states: “[s]tudent challenges are (...) representative mechanisms of social participation; due to their efforts, many  public  themes  ceased  to  be  taboo”.  However,  as  the  citizenship



14           To which El Mercurio belongs.



is  not  properly  informed,  their  impact  as  a  movement  is  not  properly acknowledged.






Cabalin, C. (2012). Neoliberal education and student movements in Chile: inequalities and malaise. Policy Futures in Education, 10(2), 219-228.


Chan, J. & Lee, C. C. (1984). The journalistic paradigm on civil protests: A case study of Hong Kong. In Andrew Arno and Wimal Dissanayake (Eds.), The news media in national and international conflict (pp. 183-202). London: Westview Press.


Colorado, C. (2011). Categorización y Agentividad de la Protesta Social en la Prensa Española [Categorization and agency of the social protest in the Spanish press]. Paper presented at the XXVI Encuentro Internacional de la Asociación de Jóvenes Lingüistas, Salamanca, Spain.


Gibbs, C. & Parrini, V. (2009). Noticias sobre el desarrollo en la prensa chilena [News about the development of the Chilean press]. Observatorio de medios FUCATEL. Retrieved from http://www.observatoriofucatel.cl/ wp-content/uploads/2009/01/ informe-final-focus-chile-11.pdf (Accesed April, 27)


Herrera,  M.  (2007).  Democracia    tutelada  y  libertad  de  expresión en Chile [Ward democracy and freedom of speech in Chile]. Red nacional de investigación en Comunicación.  Retrieved from  http://www. redcomunicacion.org/memorias               /pdf/2007Maherreracampos.pdf (Accesed April, 27)


Infobae. (11 October, 2011). Piñera quiere dividir a los estudiantes [Piñera wants to divide the students]. Infobae.com America Retrieved from Infobae.com America website: http://america.infobae.com/notas/35434- Pinera-quiere-dividir-a-los-estudiantes (Accesed April, 27)


IPSOS Chile (2011). Estudio lectoría Gran Santiago [a study of readership in Santiago, Chile]. IPSOS Chile. Retrieved from http://www. elmercuriomediacenter.cl/estudio-de-lectoria-en-diarios-y-revistas- junio-2011/ (Accesed April,27 )


Krzyzanowski, M. & Wodak, R. (2008). The politics of exclusion: Debating migration in Austria. London: Transaction Publishers.

Mautner, G. (2008). Analyzing newspapers, magazines and other print media. In Ruth Wodak and Michal Krzyzanowski (Eds.). Qualitative discourse analysis in the social sciences. Hampshire: Palgrave McMillan, pp.30-53.


MacLeod, D. (2007). News coverage and social protest: How the media’s protest paradigm exacerbates social conflict. Journal of Dispute Resolution, 1, 185-194.


Pérez, Carolina (2012). The Chilean student movement and the media: Comparative analysis on the linguistic and visual representation of the 04 August, 2011 manifestation in right-wing and left-wing newspapers. (Unpublished MA dissertation). Lancaster University. Lancaster, England.


Reisigl, M. & Wodak, R. (2001). Discourse and Discrimination. London: Routledge.


Shoemaker, P. J. (1984). Media treatment of deviant groups. Journalism & mass communication quarterly, 61, 66-82.


Van Leewen, T. (2008) Discourse and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Wodak, R. (2008). Us’ and ‘them’: Inclusion and exclusion – Discrimination via discourse. In Gerard Delanty, Ruth Wodak and Paul Jones (Eds.) Identity, belonging and migration. Liverpool, Liverpool University Press.


Wodak, R. & Krzyzanowski, M. (2008). Qualitative discourse analysis in the social sciences (Eds.) Hampshire: Palgrave McMillan.


Wodak, R. & Meyer, M. (2009). Methods of critical discourse analysis (Eds.).

London: Sage.

Wodak, R. et. al. (2009). The discursive construction of national identity (2nd Edition). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.




1 Examples taken from the texts.

1.1 El Mercurio

a.       Ya  antes  de  las  18.30  actuaron  carros  lanzagua  en  Plaza  Italia.

Rápidamente los incidentes se trasladaron a Vicuña Mackenna, Seminario y Condell, donde se instalaron grandes barricadas.

Después los incidentes se trasladaron más hacia el centro, donde en Banderas y Estado se armaron barricadas en casi todas las esquinas, desde Alameda hasta la Plaza de Armas. También en Miraflores donde se usaron las señaléticas. En esa calle se destrozaron los ventanales de dos sucursales bancarias y una AFP.

Una de las esquinas más conflictivas fue Marcoleta con Portugal, donde hay dos universidades, lugar donde por al menos una hora Carabineros se enfrentó con lacrimógenas a encapuchados que instalaron barricadas e incendiaron una caseta de seguridad ciudadana. Más al oriente, en Diagonal Paraguay con Vicuña Mackenna, un auto particular atropelló a una menor al esquivar una barricada. La niña sufrió heridas leves.

A las 21 horas, en el caceroleo, Carabineros usó lacrimógenas para dispersar a manifestantes cerca del Paseo Ahumada y del barrio Lastarria. A pocas cuadras, el incendio de La Polar ya estaba declarado. El Gobierno no se refirió al siniestro.

b.      También se registraron incidentes en Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Copiapó, La Serena, Talca, Temuco, Puerto Montt y Ancud. En la capital de Los Lagos tampoco se autorizó una marcha que congregó a 800 jóvenes. Algunos intentaron tomarse la intendencia, que resultó con vidrios rotos. En Valdivia también llegaron hasta la Intendencia, donde cuatro jóvenes se encadenaron a una baranda y cuyo desalojó desató los incidentes. Según los coordinadores del movimiento, 20 mil estudiantes se movilizaron en regiones. En la noche, las protestas se concentraron en barrios de las principales ciudades del país, donde después de las 22 horas se escuchó un largo “cacerolazo” de apoyo a los estudiantes.

c.       En tanto, 29 uniformados y dos jóvenes resultaron heridos.

d.      “Nunca había visto algo como esto acá. Tengo tres niños y están desesperados con el humo”, afirmó Lorena Negrete, vecina de calle Obispo Donoso.

e.       De hecho, el comercio comenzó a cerrar desde la mañana. “El día para ya está perdido”, afirmó al mediodía María Luisa Valle, que debió cerrar su peluquería de calle Seminario. Mientras las escaramuzas continuaban, a las 16 horas los oficinistas empezaban a vaciar el centro, de cara a la marcha de la tarde.

f.        Carabineros se enfrentó con lacrimógenas a encapuchados que instalaron barricadas e incendiaron una caseta de seguridad ciudadana. Más al oriente, en Diagonal Paraguay con Vicuña Mackenna, un auto particular atropelló a una menor al esquivar una barricada. La niña sufrió heridas leves.

g.       En La Moneda, el ministro Chadwick lamentó que “la ciudadanía y las personas que han estado en el centro de Santiago hayan tenido que sufrir

algunas molestias en su normal día laboral, pero la ley se debe cumplir para todos”.

h.      Los manifestantes instalaron barricadas en más de 10 puntos de Santiago, Recoleta, Estación Central, Independencia, San Ramón y Ñuñoa.

i.        Ya antes de las 18.30 actuaron carros lanzagua en Plaza Italia. Rápidamente los incidentes se trasladaron a Vicuña Mackenna, Seminario y Condell, donde se instalaron grandes barricadas.

Después los incidentes se trasladaron más hacia el centro, donde en Banderas y Estado se armaron barricadas en casi todas las esquinas, desde Alameda hasta la Plaza de Armas. También en Miraflores donde se usaron las señaléticas. En esa calle se destrozaron los ventanales de dos sucursales bancarias y una AFP.

Una de las esquinas más conflictivas fue Marcoleta con Portugal, donde hay dos universidades, lugar donde por al menos una hora Carabineros se enfrentó con lacrimógenas a encapuchados que instalaron barricadas e incendiaron una caseta de seguridad ciudadana. Más al oriente, en Diagonal Paraguay con Vicuña Mackenna, un auto particular atropelló a una menor al esquivar una barricada. La niña sufrió heridas leves.

A las 21 horas, en el caceroleo, Carabineros usó lacrimógenas para dispersar a manifestantes cerca del Paseo Ahumada y del barrio Lastarria. A pocas cuadras, el incendio de La Polar ya estaba declarado. El Gobierno no se refirió al siniestro.

j.        Tres efectivos fueron heridos.

k.      Unos armados con lacrimógenas, los otros con piedras y botellas llenas de pintura que lanzaban a los carros lanzagua.

l.        En una sesión extraordinaria realizada ayer en la sede de la U. de Valparaíso en Santiago, la Confech rechazó oficialmente la propuesta formulada el lunes por el ministro de Educación, Felipe Bulnes, y dio al Gobierno un plazo de seis días, para que entregue “un planteamiento claro respecto de la educación gratuita, una democratización real y reforma de los sistemas de acceso”.

m.    La negativa la dio a conocer el dirigente de la Federación de Estudiantes de la U. de Valparaíso Sebastián Farían. Esto dio motivo a una respuesta inmediata del ministro vocero Andrés Chadwick, quien sostuvo que “al Gobierno no se lo emplaza de esa manera” y que el documento presentado por el ministro Bulnes es la propuesta final del Ejecutivo.

Al  fragor   de   los   enfrentamientos   con   Carabineros,   estudiantes y profesores afirmaron ayer que el Gobierno violó los derechos constitucionales de expresión y asociación al impedir las dos marchas convocadas en Santiago.

Aunque hasta la Plaza Baquedano llegaron decenas de personas en la mañana y en la tarde, Carabineros utilizó carros lanzagua y bombas

lacrimógenas para evitar que los manifestantes se juntaran. Los dirigentes, entre quienes se contaban a Jaime Gajardo y Camila Vallejo, intentaron acercarse a Plaza Italia en un vehículo, pero al bajarse fueron mojados. Debido a ello se trasladaron hasta la sede del Partido Comunista, ubicada en Vicuña Mackenna.

“No sólo se nos vulneró el derecho a desplazarnos por la calle, sino también el derecho a congregarnos de manera libre en los espacios públicos. El ministro del Interior sabe que está violando derechos constitucionales” afirmó la presidenta de la FECh, Camila Vallejo.

A su juicio, la situación que se vivió en la capital es muy parecida a un “estado de sitio” y culpó al Ejecutivo de los desmanes.

Los dirigentes presentaron ayer un recurso de protección ante la Corte de Apelaciones para revertir la prohibición de marchar por la Alameda. El tribunal lo acogió a trámite.

En La Moneda, el ministro Chadwick lamentó que “la ciudadanía y las personas que han estado en el centro de Santiago hayan tenido que sufrir algunas molestias en su normal día laboral, pero la ley se debe cumplir para todos”.

En la Universidad Católica ayer bajó su movilización Teatro. Queda en paro Arte y Música.


1.2. El Siglo

a.       La mañana de ayer jueves comenzó demasiado agitada. Antes de las ocho de la mañana ya había barricadas en diversos puntos de Santiago, varias de ellas en la Alameda, las cuales fueron violentamente reprimidas por la fuerza policial.

b.      Y es ése un punto en el cual coinciden todos los actores involucrados: la movilización no puede decaer, más aún si se toman en cuenta los logros alcanzados hasta ahora, como lo es la masiva respuesta a cada una de las manifestaciones  convocadas,  con  marchas  que  incluso  llegaron a superar las 200 mil personas en Santiago y 400 mil en todo el país; la diversificación de dichas manifestaciones, con representaciones culturales, intervenciones de espacios, corridas por fuera de La Moneda y el Congreso, ocupaciones pacíficas de embajadas y edificios públicos; el forzamiento a un cambio de gabinete, incluido el ministro de Educación, quien además es –o era- un presidenciable de su sector; la desaprobación al gobierno por parte de la ciudadanía manifiesta en cada una de las encuestas dadas a conocer hasta ahora, las cuales además dan cuenta del enorme apoyo que en todo el país reciben los estudiantes y profesores por la batalla que están dando; la incómoda posición en que ha quedado el gobierno en donde no ha podido concitar apoyos en ningún otro sector político más allá de los partidos de la Alianza; y fundamentalmente, en

la certeza de que la ciudadanía en conjunto comparte la tesis de que es el sistema educacional completo el que está en crisis y que ya no resiste soluciones parche o que tiendan a mejorar sólo algunos aspectos de ella y que lo que se requiere es una reestructuración completa, como la propuesta por estudiantes y profesores y que es apoyada además por un amplio sector de organizaciones sociales, sindicales y políticas.

c.       Después de todo, el derecho a reunirse y manifestarse está garantizado por la Constitución, aunque en La Moneda aún no lo tengan claro.

d.      La movilización va a seguir y continuaremos manifestándonos ahora con mayor fuerza al ver cómo nos reprimen y nos cohartan nuestros derechos fundamentales”.

e.       Ahora falta que en La Moneda entiendan.