Encoding polysemy in the news

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although media-audience encounters are always potentially open to different interpretations, little is known about the textual mechanisms that encourage polysemy. Focusing on a story about a CEO who pledged to drastically cut his pay to increase his employees’ salaries, this study compared news reports that covered the same event but were met by different levels of polysemy in their reception. Through a combination of frame and semiotic analysis, the study pinpoints differences in content and style between news stories that were met by interpretive convergence from audiences (low polysemy) and those that were met by interpretive divergence (high polysemy). Based on these differences, a typology of three textual mechanisms is offered to explain the range of polysemy in the news: the attributes and representation of characters, the use of empiricism versus mythology in structuring conflict, and the level of closure versus uncertainty in the story’s conclusion.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1089-1108
Number of pages20
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • Corporate social responsibility
  • interpretation
  • news
  • polysemy
  • reception
  • semiotic analysis

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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