Hazing reports: The construction of hazing, SLSU, and the alleged suspects

posted Nov 3, 2014, 9:21 AM by Nicky Guinto   [ updated Nov 4, 2014, 5:52 AM ]

DZMM Report
The recent news about another hazing victim in Quezon province has disturbed me, big time - not only because of the death of the victim, but because of how these news organizations framed their news reports, which appeared in the top three search results in Google (see screenshots).   

Journalists, editors and contributors, according to Tinio (2003), “are free to use words and expressions, language style and linguistic structures” in their articles. Their linguistic choices reflect their ideological position on an issue (Faiclough, 1995). Because of the power of media to reach a wide audience, Van Dijk (2001) claims that media has the ability to sustain ideologies and reproduce public opinion. In reference to these notions, there are two points that I wish to raise about the news reports on the recent hazing incident in Quezon province.

Kicker Daily Report
First point: The headlines "Ex-student ng SLSU, patay sa hinihinalang hazing sa Quezon," "Ex-student dies after hazing in Quezon," and "Ex-student dies after alleged hazing in Quezon," place the attribute of the victim (i.e. - a former student) in the subject position of the headlines, as if exclusively associating hazing as a crime that may happen solely to individuals who are students of a school/ University, and creating the impression also that if the victim is not a student, an incident of hazing may not be considered as hazing. R.A. 8049 or the Anti-Hazing law states that hazing may also happen to any individual, not necessarily a student, who wishes to be part of a fraternity, sorority, or organization (Robles, 2006).

If I understood it correctly, the incident happened during the semestral break, which technically makes the victim not anymore part of Southern Luzon State University, until he enrolls again for the following semester (which, sadly, is impossible now). In my opinion, the information that the victim is a former student of a University is not the most important part of the story, and therefore, does not deserve to be emphasized in the reports. If an incident of hazing happened within the official school days, perhaps that's the time when associating the matter to schools/ Universities is justifiable. However, it is possible that because of headlines framed this way, hazing is ideologically sustained as a problem confined only within schools/ Universities, and not a similar problem and responsibility of other sectors of society.

What makes me infuriated (and is my second point here) is that one report had to highlight that the victim is an "ex-student of Southern Luzon State University," as if it is a vital element in the report. Halliday (1994) posits that "preposing" or "fronting" an information in a clause is a way to emphasize that information.

In what seems like an attempt to prepose SLSU to have a very significant connection with the victim, DZMM explicitly specifies the University's acronym in the subject position of the headline and even does the same in the lead: "Isang dating estudyante ng Southern Luzon State University (SLSU) ang nasawi..." 

Kicker Daily did otherwise because they fronted the incident instead of the attributes of the victim in: "Another incident of hazing was reported..." In the report's lead, SLSU is placed only in the rheme (predicate) and served only as supporting information, but still a part of the lead. The lead, according to a University of Florida (n.d.) online lecture, is the most important part of the news and oftentimes the only one readers read after the headline. 

Philstar Report
In contrast to the two reports, PhilStar framed their lead to emphasize what is being done by the police and held back the name of the University in: "Police are now investigating the death of a former state university student..," instead of what seems like partly blaming the University for what happened as it can be inferred from DZMM's and Kicker Daily's reports.

Ironically, the group who are allegedly responsible for the incident were never mentioned in the headlines nor the leads. 


Fairclough, N. (1995). Media discourse. London: Arnold.

Halliday, M.A.K. (1994). An introduction to Functional Grammar (2nd Ed.). UK: Arnold.

Robles, C. (2006). “Republic Act 8089: Anti-Hazing law.” Date retrieved: November 3, 2014 from http://www.chanrobles.com/antihazinglaw.htm#.VFeMKPmUeAU.

Tinio, N. (2003 June). An Analysis on Syntactic and Semantic Factors Found in Newspaper Headlines. Jurusan Sastra Ingris, 5(1), 49-61.

University of Florida. (n.d.). “Learning how to write a news story for broadcast.” Date retrived: November 3, 2014 from http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/Spring09/selepak_a/lead.html.

Van Dijk, T. (2001). Critical discourse analysis. In D. Schriffin, D. Tannen, & H. Hamilton (Eds.), The handbook of discourse analysis (pp. 352-371). MA, USA: Blackwell Publishers.