أبحاثاللغة الأجنبية

Reading Beyond Lines: A Semiotic Analysis of News Headlines

Reading Beyond Lines: A Semiotic Analysis of News Headlines

DR. Zeina Mohammad Rashid Al Zoabi

Abstract

The entire world of social realities is undoubtedly a reflection of respective mental representations. These cognitive operations are manifestations of sign systems that contribute to critically conveying meaning and transferring messages. In this context, this study adopts a semiotic perspective to approach the media discourse, particularly at the level of news headlines. The research procedure entailed selecting 10 headlines from diverse Arab media sources reporting the Israeli strikes on Lebanon amid the Gaza conflict. This semiotic approach involved adopting Barthes’ Semiotic Theory which allows for exploring the functionality of signs, symbols, and images in the studied context. Accordingly, the reported findings revealed that diverse ideologies are encoded in the news discourse loaded with multiple invisible meanings and implicit messages. The interpretation of sign elements revealed the depth of meaning veiled between lines. Besides, the use of symbols and visuals exhibited a vital interplay with other sign elements that contributed to relaying the intended meaning by shaping the semiotic tapestry of news headlines.

Keywords: Semiotics, news headlines, signs, symbols, visuals

Introduction

As the exhibition of human interaction mirrors a cognitive endeavor, the communicative process is undoubtedly a combination of sign systems. These sign elements encompass intricate mental operations that structure the communicative process by enabling the transfer of the intended meaning. At this level, the power of language is manifested in the capability of signs and symbols to serve linguistic functions displayed in illuminating shades of meaning that resonate in the communicative process. This accentuates the nexus between semiotics, semantics, and pragmatics as three major linguistic disciplines that reflect diverse cognitive operations underlying meaning-making. In the realm of semiotics, the functionality of signs, symbols, and images provides deep insights into the multiple invisible cognitive strategies that allow for implicitly transferring ideologies and beliefs to the audience through language.

Unleashing the power of semiotics within the media discourse, reported news appears to be a myriad of ideologies and beliefs encoded within a news discourse. These invisible messages are only accessible through decoding the signs and symbols employed in structuring the discourse. This is reflected at the level of news headlines in which multiple language components and semiotic aspects are critically mingled in a way that influentially relays meaning. The acquisition of meaning at this level extensively relies on the audience’s critical thinking and analytical skills that allow for unveiling the messages hidden behind explicit signs and symbols. This crystalizes the vital interactive function of headlines that displays the power of semiotic elements in instigating mental operations in the audience’s cognition contributing to enhancing the meaning-making processes.

In light of the aforementioned, meaning acquisition in the media context emanates as a complex process emphasizing the criticality of reading beyond lines in the news discourse. Accordingly, the conducted research approached this specific matter of meaning display in the news discourse highlighting the functionality of signs and symbols in news headlines. This semiotic perspective promotes the perception of meaning-making in the news discourse accentuating the interplay between cognitive operations and communication in the external world of socio-political realities. Therefore, this study allows for unveiling the semiotic tapestry of news headlines through the lens of Barthes’ Semiotic Theory.

Statement of the Problem

In the realm of communication and interaction, meaning is an intricate and complex process. As discourses embody layers of meaning, perceiving the intended meaning is very critical. Accordingly, the criticality of this issue lies in leading the audience to diverse misconceptions and misunderstandings that can hinder the communicative process. At this level, perceiving the intended meaning mainly within the media context necessitates the consideration of diverse linguistic levels and disciplines that interact with each other in a way that portrays the intended message. Among these disciplines, semiotics is a considerable field that effectively contributes to shaping the process of meaning-making through managing signs and symbols. In this context, signs are mental representations of external occurrences that appeal to the audience’s cognitive operations influencing the comprehension and interpretation of meaning. Therefore, any misunderstanding of the intended meaning veiled behind signs and symbols can critically hinder the communicative process.

In the context of media discourse, the communication of news is influenced by the ideologies and beliefs underlying the external surface of meaning display. These ideologies serve as invisible messages communicated to the audience through signs, symbols, and visuals that should be critically decoded to obtain the intended meaning that they carry. As these systems of signs undergo a mental process in associating external realities with mental conceptions, it is essential to explore the functionality of these elements in the news discourse. Without this consideration, the transmission of the intended meaning in the news discourse might be hindered contributing to impeding the efficacy of the news discourse.

Purpose of the Study

Attempting to address the aforementioned research problem, this study aims to approach the news discourse through the lens of semiotic analysis. This allows for exploring the semiotic tapestry delineating this discourse mainly at the level of news headlines. Accordingly, this study explores the linguistic and semiotic content of 10 Arab news headlines reporting the Israeli strikes in South Lebanon. Throughout this exploration, the researcher highlights the significance of sign systems in relaying the intended meaning through denotation, symbolism, and connotation. Besides, the conducted research intends to accentuate the power of the visual context in promoting the display of meaning coupled with the effective transmission of hidden ideologies and beliefs. Through this semiotic approach, this study highlights the interplay between meaning in discourses and the mental representations of sign systems in human cognition. This unveils the diverse strategies employed in the media context in an attempt to shape the audience’s behavior by instigating defined mental representations that align with particular ideologies and purposes.

Research Questions

In light of the stated purpose, and as a means of addressing the aforementioned problem, the researcher posed the following research questions:

  1. How does contemporary media incorporate sign systems in the news discourse at the level of headlines?
  2. How is meaning semiotically encoded in the visual context of signs and symbols in news headlines?

Literature Review

Semiotics: Definition and Background

Through the vantage point of semiotics, human communication is perceived as an array of signs and symbols incorporated within the meaning-making process. In identifying the nature of semiotics, Nilan (2007) defines this field as “the study of signs and signifying practices… It is argued that there is no inherent or necessary relationship between that which carries the meaning (the signifier) and the actual meaning which is carried (the signified)” (p. 60). This definition provides deep insights into the communicative process revealing how the entire human interaction can be framed in the context of encoding, decoding, and exchanging signs (Arafah et al., 2023). This justifies Ratna’s (2009) perception of semiotics as a field that is sensitive to the existence, transmission, and diversification of signs. At this level, signs “take the form of words, images, sounds, gestures, and objects” that sensitively mediate the interplay between a particular context in the external world and its associative perception in the human mind (Arafah et al., 2023, p. 490). This is asserted by Mehawesh (2014) who maintains that semiotics is a form of social practice that is inseparable from the environment and context of its occurrence.

In retrospect, the history of semiotics had roots in philosophical studies and it dates back to the time of Aristotle when philosophers were concerned with classifying different types of signs (Foster, 2017). However, this gained its popularity mainly during the late 18th and early 19th centuries when scholars including Ferdinand de Saussure, Charles Pierce, and William Morris delved deep into this scope of investigation bringing diverse semiotic theories into light (Foster, 2017). This influential contribution resulted in the evolution of new dimensions of semiotics while preserving the philosophical nature of this field (Foster, 2017). Nowadays, semiotics is being perceived as “one of the newest social science modes of analysis”, and it is defined as the study of signs and symbols constructing the system of signs (Nilan, 2007, p. 60). In this context, Yakin and Totu (2014) trace the path of this field coupled with its major concern arguing that the term semiotics “derives from the Greek ‘semesion’, meaning sign, ‘semainon’ which means signifier and ‘semainomenon’ meaning signified or indication. Generally, semiotic is the study of signs or an epistemology about the existence or the actuality of sign in societal life” (p. 4). Therefore, its interest in meaning and language interprets how semiotics emanates as an amalgam of philosophy and linguistics coupled with bits and pieces from diverse other sciences and disciplines (Yakin & Totu, 2014).

Media Discourse: Functions of Headlines

According to Ahmadova (2021), the interdisciplinary nature of discourses allows them to involve a wide diversity of types and forms. In the media context, the news discourse is a significant scope that embodies a vernacular relationship between social occurrences, predefined ideologies, and knowledge construction within the frame of communication and meaning display (Rubing & Sandaran, 2023). This interplay is manifested at the level of reporting socio-political and economic activities to the audience burdened with predefined systems of beliefs and reproduced ideologies. In this regard, Fowler (1991) defines news maintaining that it “is not a natural phenomenon emerging straight from `reality’, but a product. It is produced by an industry, shaped by the relations between the media and other industries, by the bureaucratic and economic structure of that industry, and most importantly by relations with government and with other political organizations” (p.223). This reflects the nature of the news discourse that allows for employing diverse signs and symbols in relaying some ideologies veiled behind the external structure of language.

In the scope of news discourse, news headlines are considered influential components conveying the intended meaning and invisibly instigating some sort of action in the audience. According to Conboy (2007), headlines serve multiple crucial functions that justify the power of these elements and their ability to stand alone yet captivate the audience’s attention. In accentuating some of the functions that headlines serve, Gattani (2005, as cited in Ahmadova, 2021) summarizes these functions with three labels that specify the roles of headlines. According to Gattani (2005), headlines are informative, indicative, and eye-catcher elements. Besides, Iarovici and Amel (1989) argue that headlines possess a double function manifested in their semantic and pragmatic roles. While the semantic level highlights the functionality of headlines in displaying meaning, the pragmatic function surpasses this level emphasizing the role of news headlines in relaying diverse invisible ideologies that instigate some behavior in the audience (Iarovici & Amel, 1989).

Methodology

Corpus

In describing the studied corpus selected from the targeted news discourse, the researcher approaches the discourse of news headlines reported by Arab media sources. The selected headlines were representative and balanced mainly in the sense that they all report news events centered around the Israeli strikes on South Lebanon accompanying the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip. The researcher selected 10 headlines and approached them through the lens of semiotic analysis in which the significance of signs and symbols can be unveiled. At this level, Table 1 displays the selected headlines accompanied by their respective media sources. However, since the semiotic landscape is effectively concerned with the visual context, the photos employed in these headlines are listed and shown in Appendix A. This allowed for a textual and visual analysis of the targeted news discourse.

Table 1

News headlines and their respective Arab media sources

Headlines Source
1.        Israeli military strikes south Lebanon stoking fears of widening conflict  

 

Al Jazeera

2.        Hamas assassination shows Israel ‘didn’t achieve any goals’: Iran
3.        ‘Brink of war’: Hezbollah-Israel trade further strikes across border
4.        Strike on Hamas leader in Lebanon sends tension spiking across Middle East
5.        Israeli leaflets ‘intimidating civilians,’ Lebanese municipality says  

Arab News

6.        Lebanon’s Hezbollah denies Israel’s claim for killing senior Hezbollah commander
7.        Hezbollah hits Israeli base to avenge death of four members killed by drones
8.        Lebanon mourns 3 sisters, grandmother killed in brutal Israeli strike Al Mayadeen
9.        Hezbollah says targeted Israel base in Safad to avenge killings in Lebanon Al Arabiya News
10.     Israeli strikes on south Lebanon kill two journalists, several civilians

 

Research Design

Approaching the studied corpora through an analytical semiotic lens, the conducted study adopted a qualitative descriptive research design. The qualitative nature of this study was manifested in the interpretative approach to the news discourse employing a diversification of analytical tools unleashing the multiple features and components of the tackled headlines. In specifying the nature of qualitative research, Obeyd (2021) maintains that “qualitative researchers focus on a detailed understanding of the ‘meaning in the particular’” which reflects the sensitivity of this design to meaning and context (p. 56). In this regard, Creswell (2014) asserts that the qualitative approach is highly concerned with the collection and interpretation of open-ended data that fosters subjective analyses of a particular context.

In the scope of this study, the interpretative nature is displayed in the process of decoding the invisible meaning through reading between and beyond lines. This analysis emphasizes the nature of qualitative research as it provides a “context-sensitive micro-perspective” of the explored discourse (Dornyei, 2007, p. 27). The criticality of context sensitivity is crystalized in the diverse interpretations of signs and symbols encoded in the news discourse. This emphasizes the need to develop a holistic comprehensive understanding of the diverse ideologies underlying the invisible messages portrayed in news headlines. Unveiling these hidden components requires critically examining the connotations of the signs and symbols employed within the explored discourse.

Adopted Framework

Barthes’ Semiotic Theory

Previewing the news discourse from a cognitive perspective, meaning is perceived as a combination of sign elements involving diverse entities that reflect the external world. This is a crucial semiotic concept emphasized in diverse semiotic theories including Ronald Barthes’ Semiotic Theory. In this regard, Barthes is a French philosopher, semiotician, and linguist who is considered an influential figure in the field of semiotics (Foster, 2017). Barthes’ contribution to this field involved fostering de Saussure’s notion of sign and elaborating this notion within two primary semiotic aspects, mainly known as the two orders of signification, namely denotation and connotation (Bouzida, 2014). This identification derived from Barthes’ understanding of the sign as he “identified the semiotic sign with the system of language, and it is related to language in order to create meaning like the sign of fashion which is associated deeply to the verbal language system” (Bouzida, 2014, p. 1002). This highlights Barthes’ emphasis on de Saussure’s dyadic notion of the sign.

In describing Barthes’ orders of signification, there is a vital interrelationship between denotation and connotation. At this level, the denotative sign is composed of the signifier and the signified. Besides, this denotative sign is also considered a part of the connotative sign which can be recognized in the form of the connotative signifier. However, it is only when the connotative signified is combined with the connotative signifier, the connotative sign can be obtained (Bouzida, 2014). In illustrating the semiotic function and nature of these orders, the denotative level is only concerned with the visible meaning that focuses on literally reading lines rather than transcending beyond them (Moldez & Gomez, 2022). Hence, a clear definition of this order is that “denotation refers to an interpretation of a message to its literal meaning of signs and symbols, often by something obvious, observable, and visible to the eyes” (Moldez & Gomez, 2022, p. 6). Nevertheless, connotation entails identifying the meaning behind words involving a subjective interpretative approach to the context. This level is effectively influenced by diverse factors involving the context, society, and ideologies that contribute to unveiling the intended meaning symbolically hidden behind words. In this respect, Barthes (1968) claims that “connotation being itself a system comprises signifiers, signifieds, and the process which unites the former to the latter (signification)” (Barthes, 1968, as cited in Bouzida, 2014, p. 1005).

In the realm of connotation, the variation in meaning accentuates the multiplicity of connotations as opposed to the oneness of denotation (Moldez & Gomez, 2022). This asserts the criticality of identifying symbols as crucial connotative elements that cannot be interpreted within one frame of meaning. However, despite the critical identification of these orders of signification, Chandler (2017) argues that there is no actual separation between denotation and connotation. Therefore, signs can never be purely denotative or connotative as both orders interact in a critical manner that allows for constructing meaning within a context (Moldez & Gomez). This interaction is perceived at diverse levels involving the textual as well as the visual level. In identifying the significance of the visual context within the semiotic theory, Arifin (2019) states that visuals and images in the media context are one example of how diverse messages can be encoded behind these components. In decoding these visual elements, the audience can acquire the denotative as well as the connotative messages evoked by these images revealing the sensitivity of human cognition to diverse symbols and sign elements within the sign system (Arifin, 2019, as cited in Moldez & Gomez, 2022).

Discussion and Analysis

Approaching the media discourse through a semiotic perspective, the news context emanates as a critical area of investigation encompassing a diversification of sign components. In this regard, the sign system manifests itself at the level of the linguistic and visual components employed in a given discourse. While the signified stands as a mental representation of a tangible signifier, sign systems surpass this abstract-concrete complexity accentuating the functionality of symbols and visuals in portraying the intended meaning hidden beyond lines. This semiotic approach blending cognitive linguistics elements with visual contexts and symbolism can be crystalized through the vantage point of Barthes’ Semiotic Theory.

The employment of sign systems in news headlines

As the news discourse is a critical space for encoding socio-political messages, the use of sign components in reproducing ideologies and conveying meaning is crystalized at the level of news headlines. In investigating this context, a diversification of sign components is displayed in the selected discourse of news headlines carrying both denotative and connotative meanings. At the level of denotation, this is manifested in the literal meaning conveyed by the explored headlines. In this regard, Headline 1 (Table 1) displays the concerns about the upcoming expansion of the war amid the increasing Israeli strikes on south Lebanon. This meaning is reflected by the sign elements which stand in the form of words like “military, strikes, fears, widening, etc.” that serve as signifiers denoting diverse mental representations. Besides, Headline 2 (Table 1) aligns with Headline 1 in the context of displaying denotative meaning. This is evident in the choice of signifiers such as “assassination, achieve, goals, etc.” that reflect the real scenario happening in the Lebanese context. The employed signifiers denote wider and deeper yet denotative signifieds represented in the scenes of death, cruelty, and war.

In a similar vein, Headlines 3 and 4 also embody different denotative messages manifested in the choice of words that portray the miserable reality in Lebanon and reflect the shades of war awaiting this country. This is crystalized in the use of sign components, mainly signifiers, such as “strikes, border, tension, etc.” that reflect multiple mental representations that align with the reported socio-political realities. Proceeding in the denotative context, Headlines 5 and 6 also involve diverse sign elements that serve as reflections of mental representations visibly and literally encoded by newsmakers. Some of these denotative elements involve terms that reflect the sense of war and display the image of fear accompanying the Israeli strikes on Lebanon. These components are mainly signifiers that involve terms like “intimidating, killing, civilians, etc.” which denote the representations of war, strikes, and fear.

In addition, Headlines 7 and 8 align in their linguistic and semiotic tapestry with other headlines mainly showing how sign elements can serve denotative purposes manifested in displaying the literal meaning. At this level, the terms “avenge, death, killed, mourns, brutal, etc.” are typical illustrations of how semiotic signifiers serve as concrete reflections of mental representations. The listed terms denote cognitive signifieds that mainly exist in the semantic field of war, death, and cruelty. The utilized terms denoted the reported incidents carrying the visible meaning of what happened at a particular point. Similarly, Headlines 9 and 10 embody multiple denotative meanings brought into light through the choice of signifiers such as “targeted, killings, strikes, kill, journalists, civilians, etc.” that reveal the reality and report the occurring events. In light of the aforementioned headlines and their respective denotations revealed by the sign components, it is accentuated that meaning is conveyed through the tangible reflection of mental representations that align with particular occurrences and political events within the news context.

After explicating the denotative meaning conveyed by the studied headlines, the connotative level revealed by signifiers and signifieds is of significant importance. The news discourse is known for its critical style and sensitive manner of reporting events burdened with invisible ideologies and hidden meanings. These veiled elements empower the discourse by appealing to the readers’ minds and evoking certain reactions. In highlighting some of the connotative instances observed in the analyzed discourse, the history of the Lebanese resistance rebelling against Israel’s inhumanity is invisibly displayed in the background of all the analyzed headlines. At the level of Headlines 1 and 2 (Table 1), the employed terms connote invisible meanings burdened with the long history of Israel’s inhumanity in the Middle East and its rape of others’ homelands. This is reflected in the critical choice of signifiers such as “military strikes, stoking fears, assassination, etc.” which reveal the shades of war approaching the Lebanese context from its southern border. These sign elements do not only announce the expectations of war expansion but they also reveal diverse political agendas underlying the Israeli strikes on Lebanon. This is manifested in portraying the cruel image of Israel as the source of fear, injustice, and inhumanity in all contexts. Although Headline 1 does not literally state this idea, the intended meaning is acquired by saying “stoking fears” which signifies the history as well as the future of Israel’s cold-blooded attacks. Besides, Headline 2 connotes the Middle East’s forces’ realization and knowledge of the poor weak background of this enemy that is driving all its efforts into vain. This is displayed in saying “didn’t achieve any goals”. This statement reveals the Middle East’s carelessness about Israel’s attempts through associating this enemy’s trials with meagerness.

In a similar vein, Headlines 3 and 4 connote the increase in tensions leading to warfare. The utilized signifiers reflect critical cognitive representations that display the most influential parties in this conflict. Besides, mentioning the “Middle East” does not only reflect a geographical representation; instead, it connotes the fears of war expansion that hinder countries other than Lebanon. This scene is motivated by the use of symbols as a crucial component of the sign system which transcends meaning display to a higher level of connotation. These diverse layers of meaning are also presented in Headlines 5 and 6 in which the light was spotted on some parties, highlighting their roles and fostering their bravery in contrast to the enemy’s meagerness and cruelty. This is reflected at the level of Headline 5 mainly as Israel spreads leaflets threatening innocent citizens. This sheds light on the inhuman attack of Israel on innocent civilians. However, Headline 6 reveals the bravery and aptitude of the Lebanese resistance, manifested in Lebanon’s Hezbollah, in recognizing the traps of the enemy. Through this representation, news headlines encode multiple political agendas in the news discourse that are only accessible and perceptible in the sense of invisible messages.

Similarly, Headlines 7 and 8 are loaded with diverse connotative meanings encoded through sign elements. The employed terms accentuate the harshness of Israel as opposed to the Lebanese resistance right to defend the country against this monster. This is evident in Headline 7 mainly in saying “avenge’. This term connotes the background underlying the military act of Hezbollah that might, from the outside, appear as an aggressive attack. Highlighting the term “avenge” automatically suggests that Hezbollah is reacting to Israel’s attacks rather than initiating an attack. This justifies Hezbollah’s behavior and allows for ignoring the harsh nature of this attack simply as it stands as a reaction to prior attacks which justifies the right of the Lebanese resistance to reply to what Lebanon was subjected to. Besides, Headline 8 emphasizes the harshness of this enemy mainly by portraying the scene of killing innocent civilians, particularly children and women.

Eventually, Headlines 9 and 10 align with previous headlines at the level of employing particular sign elements in displaying connotative meaning and symbolizing events. Headline 9 resembles Headline 7 in the use of the term “avenge” to justify Hezbollah’s strikes on Israel. Nonetheless, Headline 10 highlights Israel’s cold-blooded attacks accentuating the fact that this enemy kills civilians and rapes the voice of freedom and truth, journalism, to hide its heinous crimes. Therefore, this semiotic approach to news headlines through Barthes’ Semiotic Theory revealed the power of language in displaying denotative meanings and connotative representations that surpass the level of words on paper. This highlights the power of semiotics in fostering the interplay between cognitive operations and linguistic elements carrying the intended meaning.

The semiotic display of meaning through symbols and visuals in news headlines

In approaching the visual context of news headlines, it is made clear how images hold symbols of meaning that align with the linguistic content of headlines. This is a crucial part of the semiotic sense employed in the news discourse. At the level of Figure 1 (Appendix A), the image of homeless women and children walking on the wrecks of their homes which were severely damaged by the enemy. This visual context reflects the linguistic content of the headlines. Besides, Figure 2 displays the image of a Hamas influential figure who was assassinated in Lebanon. Similarly, this visual context reflects the linguistic content fostered in the headline. At the level of Figure 3, the gloomy image holds much sorrow, pain, and misery that reflects the critical situation in South Lebanon. This visual aligns with the linguistic content that says “Brink of war”. Thus, the employed image visualizes the feelings and scenes that can be hardly described through words instigating a sense of fear in the reader who can realize the miserable situation in the described areas. Similar to Figure 2, Figure 4 displays the image of a Hamas figure, namely Saleh Al-Arouri, who was assassinated in Dahie, Lebanon. This also aligns with the linguistic context of this headline emphasizing that the blood of this brave man will not go in vain and his death will be avenged. As for Figure 5, the displayed image highlights the situation in some Lebanese areas where Israel spread leaflets threatening civilians. The image shows the severe destruction resulting from the Israeli strike on Lebanon. This visualizes the feelings of fear and threat experienced by civilians.

Besides, Figure 6 visualizes the sound of rebellion and denial. As Headline 6 highlights Hezbollah’s denial of Israel’s claim of killing Hezbollah’s senior commander, the respective image in Figure 6 portrays the soldiers’ rebellion, resistance, and readiness to fight against this monster. At the level of Figure 7, the bombed car’s image attempts to highlight some of Hezbollah’s achieved goals in Israel emphasizing the power of this military force that is avenging the death of its members and civilians. As for Figure 8, the image says what words failed to say. Despite the harshness of the displayed image, the four coffins of 4 innocent souls can stand alone in revealing the cruelty of Israel. At the level of Figure 9, the image of strikes and bombings filling the sky with smoke reflects the achievements of Hezbollah in avenging its martyrs. The emerging smoke in this context portrays the celebration of victory. Eventually, Figure 10 displays the photo of the two journalists who were killed in Israeli attacks. This aligns with the context of Headline 10 which reports Israel’s assassination of journalists and its attacks on innocent civilians. Through this illustration, it is made evident how semiotics dynamically functions within the discourse mingling diverse sign elements in one context that blends linguistic and visual components. This interplay between sign elements reveals the power of language in invisibly displaying meaning and reproducing ideologies that appeal to the reader’s minds through mental representations.

Conclusion

Throughout this semiotic approach to the news discourse, the power of headlines in displaying meaning and conveying invisible messages is well-displayed. Looking through Barthes’ semiotic lens, the interplay between signs, symbols, and visuals is accentuated. This contributed to unveiling the power of semiotics in fostering the relationship between words and mental operations. This is reflected in the layers of meaning characterizing the news discourse burdened with invisible messages and hidden ideologies. In this context, news headlines appeared to carry both denotative as well as connotative meanings brought into light through sign components. These sign elements also involved the use of visuals that align with the linguistic content of headlines creating double contextualization within the same context. Therefore, the analytical approach unleashed the semiotic tapestry of news headlines fostering the criticality of this discourse mainly as it embodies shades of meaning that are only perceived through critical thinking and sensitivity to the intended meaning loaded with ideologies and hidden agendas.

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