Analyzing the Macro and Microstructures of Editorial Texts

This article explains how the macro and micro structures of editorial texts are analyzed. The author submitted this assignment to Dr. Danilo Dayag of De La Salle University, Manila in partial fulfillment of the course requirements in Discourse Analysis (subject) . Read on and learn how editorial texts are analyzed using this approach.

What is the Difference Between Macrostructure and Microstructure?

The macro structure is defined as the “germinal idea” (or closely related complex of germinal ideas) that acts as an overall plan in the development of the discourse (Toews, 1992) while the microstructure is defined as a collection of coherent basic units of text (e.g. sentences). Likewise, the macrostructure is a network derived from the microstructure by application of some semantic rules (Van Dijk, 1988).

Furthermore, according to Engebretsen (2000), the term macrostructure denotes both a textual and a cognitive entity. The macrostructure has a semantic representation in the text. And that representation has an encounter with the reader’s interpretive framework (mental schemas) and so, it is established in the mind of the reader. He also says that the macropropositions at the various levels will be partly expressed in the text.

For instance, the first or the last sentence in a paragraph often summarizes the entire paragraph. Nevertheless, the reader must infer the macrostructure of the text when reading. Macrostructures appear as a result of reducing or summarizing cognitive activity.

When retelling a text or constructing a text based on an event, the language user will follow what van Dijk (1988) calls the three macrorules to extract the most important information. These three rules are deletion, generalization and construction.

I examined eight (8) editorials taken from Manila Bulletin using the concept of macrostructure and microstructure. The headlines of these newspaper articles, dated November 11-18, 2001, are as follows:

  1. Nov 11, 2001 Information Month
  2. Nov. 12 President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s state visit to Indonesia
  3. Nov. 13 Super Rice
  4. Nov 14 President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s visit to the United States of America: Strengthening the ties to defend liberty and democracy and secure mutual development
  5. Nov 15 Welcome, President Tran Luong and Party of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
  6. Nov 16 The National Tourism Policy Act 2001
  7. Nov 17 Mindanao Development Package
  8. Nov 18 Ramadan

The Editorials’ Macrostructures

The 8 editorial texts follow the same global structures: the introduction, the body and the conclusion. However, after analyzing the text, the following macro structures are noted: the issue/event, the claim, and the comment. The first paragraph contains the issue/event, the last paragraph contains the comments and the paragraphs in between contain the claims. Also, the headlines show and tell the main topic or the main idea of the editorial while the first paragraph tells something about the headline.

Expressives like wish, welcome, hope, and commend are commonly used in the last paragraph. Out of 8 editorials, wish is used 3 times for visit, while welcome is used once.

Three of the editorials use hope or hopefully for occasion, policy act, or program while commend is used twice for a good plan or project.

The Editorials’ Microstructures

The microstructural features are also used to give a signal or provide a clue for their macrostructures.

First, the use of co-reference. More endophoras are used particularly, the anaphora. The following are some examples:

#2 …daughters of revered former national leaders, namely, Indonesia’s founding President Suharno and former Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal. Their deceased and highly regarded fathers…

#8 The arabic word used in the Quran is sawm or, in the plural form, siyam. It literally means “to refrain”.

#8 The practices associated with the observance … are noble. They promote worthy thoughts and strengthen…..