Intertextuality in online news coverage of the 2011 jasmine revolution: a comparison between al-jazeera and bbc arabic


  • Dr Muhammad Marwan Ismail
  • Dr Farah Nadia Harun


Arab Spring; Critical Discourse Analysis; Intertextuality; Arabic online news; media discourse.


In remembrance of a decade after the so-called 'Arab Spring' (AS), which still attracted a lot of attention among researchers to examine the uprising from various perspectives. Media coverage of the event is one an essential topic among academicians since 2011. Before 2011, Tunisia, the birthplace of the AS was considered a 'quiet' country as it received little international media attention compared to other neighbouring countries, namely Egypt and Morocco. When the uprising emerged in December 2010, Tunisia received intensive media coverage and the country suddenly become the major headline in worldwide international news coverage. Hence, this article aims to critically examine the discursive strategies, particularly the intertextuality utilised by two prominent international Arabic online news outlets: Al-Jazeera and BBC Arabic, in their online coverage of the AS. These two prominent news agencies were chosen for their wide international coverage. Besides, Al-Jazeera of Qatar represents the Arab international media and the 'East', while BBC Arabic which is part of the BBC international news agency based in London, represents the 'West(ern)' media. This article utilises Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) with a focus on the three-dimensional textual analysis framework of Fairclough (1992). The textual linguistics analysis is further enhanced with a link to Laclau and Mouffe (1985) Discourse Theory of power struggles for hegemony, which aims to reveal the power struggles between the 'in-group' (the government) and the 'out-group' (the antagonists) in discourse construction strategies. It is found that certain Tunisian social groups have been strategically included in each outlet's coverage, while other has been intentionally excluded. Thus, this article compares the discourse strategy of intertextuality utilised by Al-Jazeera and BBC Arabic and discloses the hidden ideologies of discourse construction approaches. Finally, the article presents the conclusion and suggestions for future studies related to the AS.