Accounts of violence from Arabs and Israelis on Nightline

Richard Buttny, Donald G. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The North American network, ABC-Television, broadcast the news-panel program, Nightline, from Jerusalem during the beginning days of the Second Intifada. One of the main themes of this discussion was the violence, pain and trauma - the civilians killed or wounded, the military's actions, and how it all started. Even the horrible facts of violence must be told or narrated and discussed for their morality, causes, consequences, responsibility and political ramifications. In this sense, violence is discursive. How violence gets told, how versions get constructed or contested, is our focus. Participants used the communicative practices of invoking membership categories and activity terms and formulating events in support of their evaluative viewpoint. These membership categories were often presented by the use of conflicting positionings in referencing persons or events. The 'conflict' between descriptive terms draws attention to something problematic. Talk of violence also makes relevant reports of affect/feeling. In reporting violence, affect/feeling is reconstructed by participants as both a consequence and a cause of action, to intensify a condition, to raise moral issues, as an obstacle to be overcome, as a shorthand condition to ascribe of another to invite a telling of the events, or to ascribe as an opponent's political strategy. Such discursive uses of affect/feeling help to make concrete the human costs of violence. In addition, the panelists' answers were designed not only for the interviewer or fellow panelists, but to multiple audiences, including millions of TV viewers in the USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-161
Number of pages23
JournalDiscourse and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Accounts
  • Affect
  • Broadcast news interviews
  • Discourse of violence
  • Middle East conflict
  • Positioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Accounts of violence from Arabs and Israelis on Nightline'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this