Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Simpson Miller and non-verbal expressions

Published:Thursday | September 1, 2016 | 12:10 AM


Journalists are largely communicators, and communication is essentially about the transference of shared meaning. The role of the journalist includes helping the general public understand issues. A trained communicator will be aware that meaning is not established purely on the basis of words and their denotations, but it must also take into consideration the non-verbal expressions of the moment.

I watched People's National Party leader, Mrs Portia Simpson Miller, on CVM television news responding to questions raised by journalists in relation to widespread innuendos about misappropriated funds in her party. I listened attentively also to repeats of audio clips of the same interface on Nationwide Radio.

It is clear that Mrs Simpson Miller used words suggesting she was not cognisant of any "missing funds". I'm at a loss, however, to understand why the public media discourse is being led to focus exclusively on Mrs Simpson Miller's words. Was I the only one paying attention, for example, to her paralanguage such as the pitch and inflections in her voice and their implications for the actual meaning in what she sought to communicate?