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News Reporting and Colonial

Discourse: The Representation of Puerto


Ricans in U.S. Press Coverage of the
Spanish-American War
Ilia Rodr

guez
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Press coverage of the Spanish-American War in U.S. newspapers is often
cited as the classic example of sensationalist and jingoist propaganda. This
research approaches the reporting of this war as a form of colonial dis-
course that supported the ideology of imperialism at the turn of the
century, and revealed a process of inscribing ethnic otherness on the colo-
nized people of Puerto Rico. Through a textual analysis of news reports
of the U.S. military occupation of the island in six metropolitan dailies,
this study argues that the rhetorical modes used in news writing served
to represent Puerto Ricans as subjects in need of continuing colonial
administration.
KEYWORDS: colonial discourse, discourse analysis, news discourse,
Puerto Ricans, Spanish-American War
T
he Spanish-American War came to be known as the ``splendid little war that
marked the ascent of the United States as a world power. Between May and
August of 1898, the U.S. military occupied the last vestiges of the Spanish
empire in the Caribbean and the Pacic : Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philip-
pines. Victory over Spain raised the issue of U.S. control over the newly acquired
territoriesin this case tropical islands populated by some 12 million inhabitants,
most of them of color and mixed races, who spoke foreign languages and had diverse
cultural backgrounds. Within this context of military conquest and expansion, issues
of imperiali sm, race, colonization, and economic progress converged in domestic
debates on U.S. foreign policy. In the incorporation of such issues into a coherent
policy, the public discourse that emerged served to justify the intervention of the
The author thanks Leola Johnson, Hazel Dicken-Garcia, and Nancy Roberts at the
University of Minnesota for their valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper.
Address correspondence to Ilia Rodr

guez, Department of Mass Communication,


Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, LA 70310, USA.
T he H ow ar d J our nal of C ommunicat io ns , 9 :283301, 1998
Copyright 1998 Tay lor & Francis
1064-6175/98 $12.00 1 .00 283
284 I. Rodr

guez
United States as a colonizing power by representing the conquered peoples as sub-
jects in need of continuing administration as colonials.
This article explores the role of journalism in this process of production of dis-
course by analyzing news reporting of the Spanish-American War to identify the
ways in which the colonized were constructed by the U.S. press in 1898. Historical
analyses of the Spanish-American War have underscored the prominent role played
by the press in this conict, while most studies of news coverage in the United States
have focused on the inuence of sensationalist propaganda in precipitating the war,
and on how the ``rally-round-the-ag content in the press added to the wars popu-
larity. In this paper, the reporting of the Spanish-American War will be approached
from a dierent perspective : as a form of discourse that supported the ideology of
imperialism at the turn of the century and revealed a process of inscribing ethnic
otherness on the peoples whose destinies were being debated and decided by the U.S.
Congress in the aftermat h of the war. The focus of attenti on here is on news as a
textual form in which to examine the discourse surrounding colonization. More spe-
cically, editorials, illustrations, and journalistic accounts of the U.S. military inva-
sion of Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War were studied in six U.S.
metropoli tan dailies. These texts were examined for the representat ions of the con-
quered peoples and territories, and for the rhetorical modes used in news reporting to
reproduce or challenge the construction of Puerto Ricans as the colonized other.
News as Colonial Discourse
For the past decade, postcolonial theorists have oered a critique of the ways in
which Western institutions have produced knowledge about nonmetropolitan coun-
tries in the context of imperiali sm and neocolonialism, underscoring how such know-
ledge has served to both legitimate and challenge imperialist domination.
1
Edward
Said ( 1993) , for example, has argued that imperiali sm and colonialism are supported
by knowledge and ideologies that include ``notions that certain territories and
peoples require and beseech domination, as well as forms of knowledge affiliated with
domination ( p. 9) .
2
Within this process of signication, journalism, and mass media
in general, are identied as key practices and institutions whereby the production of
a discourse about the colonized is controlled, selected, and organized.
3
From this
perspective, news reporting is dened as a discursive practice that ``involves adapting
more systematic forms of discourse to particular events, translating them into a lan-
guage of popular appeal ( Spurr, 1993, p. 3) .
The theoretical and methodological framework of analysis used here is informed
by the work of David Spurr, whose book T he Rhet ori c of E mpi re ( 1993) focuses on how
the production of colonial discourses in popular and literary journalism constructs
and reproduces colonization. As Spurr observes, unlike ction, journalism is expected
to be grounded in current aairs, is historically referential , and lacks formal closure.
In this sense, it can illuminate the patterns, fractures and contradictions of colonial
epistemology. Nonetheless, like ction, news writing depends on the use of myth,
symbol, and other rhetorical devices associated with poetry and literature. These
rhetorical devices in journalism may serve to aid in the maintenance of colonial
News and Colonial Discourse 285
authority or to record the loss of such authority. Thus, in their distinctive character,
news texts provide ``the means for staging an introductory analysis of colonial dis-
course ( p. 3) .
Colonial discourse is dened by Spurr as historically specic, fragmented narra-
tives and practices that combine in dierent ways to reinforce the central theme that
metropoli tan authority must be maintained over the colonized ( p. 12) . A colonizers
writing entails a form of ``self-inscription onto the lives of colonized peoples, ``who
are conceived of as extensions of the landscape by the observer-writer. Through
such language, authority is established with the demarcation of identity and dier-
ence. Thus, members of the colonizing culture accentuate their radical dierence
from the colonized as a way to legitimize their superiority. At the same time, Spurr
notes, the colonizers insist that the colonized identify with them as a preparat ion for
administration and as a moral precondition for their civilizing mission ( p. 7) .
One of the key features of this discourse is particularly relevant for the analysis of
media representat ions of colonized peoples : the prevailing belief in racial hierarchies
and the persistence of racist ideologies across time and contexts. In the history of
colonial relations, racial stratication has served to naturalize superior or inferior
positions of power and to justify imperialist policies. As Stuart Hall ( 1986) has sug-
gested, since racism exhibits certain general features across time and cultural con-
texts, the task of the analyst is to study the ways in which these general features are
``modied and transformed by the historical specicity of the contexts and environ-
ments in which they become active ( p. 23) . For as Pieterse ( 1995) argues, ``it is not
ethnicity, or `race that governs imagery and discourse, but rather, the nature of the
political relationship between peoples which causes a group to be viewed in a partic-
ular light ( p. 26) . This study of news reporting explores these problems in the
context of the Spanish-American War of 1898 and analyzes how the general features
of Western colonial discourse were reproduced in journalistic texts, and how, at the
same time, the discourse was reshaped by the particular historical development of
U.S. imperialist policy.
Beyond the Yellow Journalism Theory
Research on news coverage of military conicts has concentrated on how main-
stream news media has consistently supported foreign policy decisions during times of
crises. In the context of war eorts, news coverage has been characterized by a
``rally-round-the-ag reaction or tendency to support a presidents policy, or at
least refrain from criticism, once a conict is underway ( Cohen, 1963; Mueller,
1973) . In her study of media coverage of crises in U.S. foreign relations, Nacos
( 1990) suggests that this continuing pattern is supported by a shared notion of the
press as the guardian of national values. This notion, she argues, is rooted in the fact
that media as institutions participate in societys consensus on what are the most
important values in the system.
U.S. press coverage of the Spanish-American War is generally cited as the classic
example of this ``rally-round-the-ag reaction. Historical interpretations of the war
have supported the view that newspapers had a signicant inuence in cultivating
286 I. Rodr

guez
public opinion in favor of U.S. intervention in the conict between Cuba and Spain.
4
According to historian Hofstadter ( 1979) , the 1890s had been times of deep economic
depression, and sensationalist coverage of the war provided the setting in which
popular emotion and patriotism became deeply engaged. Along these lines, most
analyses of newspaper coverage of the war have focused on the behavior of the press,
the rhetoric of war preparation, and the impact of propaganda on U.S. public
opinion.
Earlier studies of the role of the press in the Cuban-Spanish-American conict,
conducted by Wisan ( 1934) and Wilkerson ( 1967) , emphasized the part played by
newspaper propaganda in precipitating the war. The authors considered the bitter
competition between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer as the main
factor that led these publishers to exploit the Cuban crisis to increase circulation and
set the jingoist tone that characterized the coverage of the war. Revisions of this
``yellow journalism theory have shown that coverage of the war outside New York
City was more moderate and balanced, as for instance in Midwestern papers
( Auxier, 1940; Welter, 1970) . But as Auxier ( 1940) concluded, even when media
inuence was not exerted through sensationalist reporting, editorial comment in
Midwestern papers also tended to support the war eort by emphasizing factors such
as the U.S. economic interests in the Caribbean, Spanish violations of these interests,
and the Cuban plight regarding freedom. According to Berg and Berg ( 1968) , by the
time the war was declared, news stories and cartoons had constructed the case for
U.S. intervention: to satisfy the injured national honor and to defend the cause of
liberty. Further, making reference to circulation gures, they conclude that the
Spanish-American War was one of the most signicant public events of the late
1890s, one that was widely covered by newspapers, and closely followed by readers in
the United States.
This research oers an alternat ive reading of news coverage of the Spanish-
American War by dening U.S. intervention in the Caribbean as an imperial ist
eort, and contextualizing press coverage within an ideological eort to justify Amer-
ican expansionism at the turn of the century. As Said ( 1993) has stated, the enter-
prise of expanding an empire needed all kinds of preparat ions within a culture to
provide imperial ism with coherence and justication for both the colonizer and the
colonized. While prots and markets were a major motivation for the expansion of
empires, there was more than that to it. A commitment, ``almost a metaphysical
obligation, to rule subordinate, ``inferior, or less advanced societies allowed ordi-
nary citizens to accept the notion that certain peoples should be subjugated. Further,
the basis of colonial power also depended on the acceptance of subordination by the
colonized, whether based on a sense of common interest or the inability to conceive
alternat ives ( pp. 1011) . In this process, racism has been considered the psychology
of imperialism, for it often explained the righteousness of imperial expansion based on
notions of racial and moral superiority. According to Pieterse ( 1989) , in the late
nineteenth century racism became a popular mass sentiment in the metropolitan
world. In an era when the yellow press promoted imperial ist ventures in Britain and
the United States, jingoism and racist rhetoric reached a high point, especially in
moments of European confrontation with colonial peoples. The construction of racial
hierarchies became a way to make social distance between colonizer and colonized
seem larger and permanent and to justify the maintenance of colonial authority
News and Colonial Discourse 287
( pp. 24656) . In this context, journalistic texts became part of a broader ``literature
of justication, which linked imperialism with historical mission, moral regenerati on
of the ``inferior races, and the expansion of ``freedom ( Said, 1993, p. 288) .
United States Imperialism in Historical Perspective
The Spanish-American War, as Foner ( 1972) noted, has been historically mis-
named, placing Spain and the United States as the protagonists of a war that in fact
was a Spanish-Cuban-American conict. When Cuban nationalists revolted against
the Spanish administration in 1895, the United States supported the insurgents and
denounced the ``cruelty of Spanish colonial rule. Since the beginning, most Cuban
independence leaders, while seeking U.S. support, were opposed to the entry of the
United States into the war for they feared U.S. direct and indirect control of the
island. Their main goal was to gain recognition and the right to buy arms in the
United States ( Foner 1972; Keen & Wasserman, 1988, pp. 43438) . However, on
February 15, 1898, the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor killed 266
Americans and provided the excuse for American direct intervention against Spain.
On April 19, the U.S. Congress authorized the use of military to force Spain to
renounce its sovereignty over the island of Cuba.
Soon after the war began, the U.S. military occupied Spains last colonial pos-
sessions : Guam was invaded on June 20, 1898, the Spanish surrendered in Cuba on
July 17, in Puerto Rico on July 29, and in the Philippines on August 15. The Treaty
of Paris, signed on December 10, 1898, formalized the end of the war and established
the United States as the occupying power in the islands. In the aftermat h, Cuba was
ruled by U.S. military government until 1901, when independence under an Amer-
ican protectorate was granted. Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico became
``unincorporated territoriesa term used by the U.S. Supreme Court in lieu of
``overseas colony. In 1933, independence was granted to the Philippines, and in
1950 and 1952, respectively, Guam and Puerto Rico were conceded local autonomy
but remain to this date legally unincorporated territories under U.S. federal control
( along with the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana, and the Freely
Associated States of Micronesia) ( Leibowitz, 1989, pp. 1726; Torruella, 1985, pp.
2025) .
The Spanish-American War was perhaps the most publicized of a series of inci-
dents that shaped the development of the United States as a world power in the
nineteenth century. From the early decades of the century, plans for overseas expan-
sion were debated in the U.S. Congress. For instance, Cubaan island where Amer-
icans had substantial economic interests by 1898had already been considered a
``natural site for U.S. expansion. I n 1823, President John Quincy Adams spoke of
the U.S. as a ``great, powerful, enterprisi ng, and rapidly growing nation which
exercised an ``ever-stronger gravitational pull on adjoining lands. Cuba, tied to
Spain ``by an unnatural connection could ``gravitate only towards the North Amer-
ican Union, which by the same law of nature cannot cast her o from its bosom
( quoted in Hunt, 1987, pp. 1945) . At the same time, objections to imperial ism had
also been voiced repeatedly, based in part on racial concerns and on the perceived
288 I. Rodr

guez
contradiction between imperialism and American democratic ideals. Decisions
against the annexation of all Mexico in 1848 and the Dominican Republic in 1871
had been partly based on racial considerations. In 1871, senators in Congress voiced
their reaction against the idea of annexing to the U.S. ``millions of tropical people,
people with Latin race mixed with I ndian and African blood ; people who . . . have
neither the language, nor traditions, nor habits, nor political institutions, nor morals
in common with us . . . ( quoted in Merk, 1963, pp. 19192) .
Until the late 1890s, political parties in the United States concentrated on
domestic solutions to economic crises, such as the severe depression of 1893, and
imperialist policies were not formally pursued. This situation changed in 1896, when
Republicans began to view overseas expansion as a remedy to a stagnant economy.
Expansion would provide more opportunities to secure markets for American pro-
ducts and to expand the industrial and military complex, in addition to providing
cheap sources of raw materials.
5
Moreover, geopolitical interest in displacing Great
Britain and keeping Germany at bay in the Americas were other important incen-
tives for intervening in Caribbean aairs. By 1898 the majority opinion in Congress
favored both intervention in the Cuban war against Spain and expansion to overseas
territories. In the words of historian G. Fredrickson ( 1987) , the ``departure of the
imperialists from the traditional American view of proper contact with `tropical
peoples came less from a reevaluation of the potentialities of nonwhite races than
from a desire to reap the economic, political, and psychological benets that alleg-
edly went with the possession of overseas colonies ( p. 306) .
According to A. Weinberg ( 1963) , besides access to markets, the Spanish-
American War provided the United States with an outlet to combine convergent
notions of humanitarian sentiment, national greatness, promotion of liberty, and self-
interest. From the beginning, U.S. involvement in the war was justied by imperial -
ists as a humanitarian eort to liberate Cuba from Spanish colonialism and was
widely supported by most sectors of society. Advocates of imperiali sm were led by
inuential leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge, historian
Brook Adams, evangelist Josiah Strong, naval strategist Alfred T. Mahan, railroad
tycoon J ames H. Hill, and representatives of the farm bloc such as Senator William
Allen of Nebraska ( Pratt, 1959) . Once the U.S. government decided to demand an
island empire from Spain, the task of ``uplifting the natives was proposed as the
nations ``manifest destiny, based on the belief that Americans were a chosen people
to bring progress and modernization to ``inferior races. In the opinion of president
William McKinley, to leave ``natives to themselves, peoples ``unt for self-
government, would be to ``expose them to the abuses of other European powers and
invite anarchy and chaos ( quoted in Weinberg, 1963, p. 294) .
Such a view implied that a peoples right to self-determination could be subordi-
nated to a doctrine of humanitarian necessity to ``regenerate people of color. In this
way, expansionists resorted to a moral principle to assert that government would not
rest upon the consent of all governed, but would rest on the consent only of those
capable of self-government, as judged by ``civilized powers. As Republican Con-
gressman K. Nelson expressed in 1899, ``untness for self-rule made political inde-
pendence for the ``natives the ``highest cruelty ( quoted in Weinberg, 1963, p. 297) .
Nonetheless, the acquisition of Spanish colonial territories triggered a major
debate over the direction of U.S. foreign policy. The anti-imperialist movement
News and Colonial Discourse 289
included diverse and inuential political groups and public gures opposed to over-
seas expansion. For example, half a million Americans joined the Anti-Imperialist
League founded in Boston in 1898. Politicians and intellect uals like Jane Adams,
Andrew Carnegie, William James, Samuel Gompers, Samuel Clemens, and Grover
Cleveland supported the league ( Katz, 1971) . Many African-American organizations
also opposed expansion and colonization on the grounds of democratic principles. I n
their view, at a time of discriminatory laws and mob action against blacks in the
South, the U.S. government attack on Spanish ``brutalities in Cuba was ``hypocriti-
cal ( Marks, 1971, pp. xixvi) . Also in the anti-imperialist camp were racists who
opposed annexation based on the potential ``degeneration of the white race in the
mixing and mingling with ``inferior races ( Fredrickson, 1987, p. 306) .
Anti-imperialists, in the minority, could not prevent the actions of the govern-
ment. Yet, imperial ism caused uneasiness among elite sectors in the United States.
Some, according to Weinberg ( 1963) , ``saw in this doctrine a disparagement of their
own ideal of liberty. In part as a response to this perception, advocates of imperial -
ism began to replace the terms ``imperialism and ``colonies with ``trusteeship and
``territories. They maintained that the right of self-determi nation was not being
taken from colonized peoples, but being held until the ``natives were ``t to exer-
cise it ( p. 299) .
Thus, an ideology of ``temporary trusteeship and colonization based on
``humanitarian purposes played a key role in shaping public discourse on imperial -
ism and U.S. foreign policy. The racial assumptions underlying these notions coin-
cided with those of the accommodationist position toward African-Americans in the
United States. Fredrickson ( 1987) has argued that it was no coincidence that leaders
like Roosevelt, who advocated imperiali sm, also endorsed the domestic racial pro-
grams of Booker Washington and Edgar Gardner Murphy, for both blacks and the
new dependents were being oered the ```lasting benet of a tutelage in civilization
although ``neither were promised ultimate equality or assimilation ( p. 309) .
Methodology
This study of press coverage of the Spanish-American War sought to identify the
dominant themes in news reporting of the U.S. occupation of Puerto Rico in J uly
1898, and to examine the rhetorical modes employed in journalistic writing to rep-
resent the land and peoples of Puerto Rico.
6
Through a textual analysis of news
stories, illustrations, and editorials published in six U.S. metropolitan newspapers,
this research aimed to discuss how these rhetorical modes reproduced some of the
main features of colonial discourse. The work of Spurr ( 1993) provided the analytical
model used for this investigation.
In his study of how colonialism is constructed in news discourse, Spurr suggests
12 categories that constitute a basic repertoire of rhetorical modes in colonial
discourse:
1. surveillance ( the inspection of the colonial territory from the privileged
viewpoint of the colonizer) ,
290 I. Rodr

guez
2. appropriation ( claiming the territory surveyed as the colonizers own) ,
3. aestheticization ( the tendency to represent subjects as having inherent
aesthetic qualities such as exotic, grotesque, elemental) ,
4. classication of indigenous cultures according to Western standards of
political and technological development,
5. debasement ( emphasis on the negative end of a value system) ,
6. negation ( the conception of the colonized other as absence, emptiness,
nothingness or death) ,
7. affirmation of the colonizers authority,
8. idealization or reinforcement of the exotic and idealized traits of the
cultural other,
9. insubstantialization ( emphasis on the unreal aspects of the colonized
world) ,
10. naturalization ( the identication of the colonized with the natural
world) ,
11. eroticization ( as in the use of the female gure to allegorize an entire
nation) , and
12. resistance or the questioning of the underlying assumptions of the colo-
nizers discourse.
For the purposes of this analysis, and drawing on Spurrs categories, a close
reading of the texts selected for analysis focused on identifying the most salient rhet-
orical modes employed in news reporting of the invasion of Puerto Rico. To deter-
mine the salience of a particular rhetorical mode, both the recurrence of the category
and the emphasis placed on it ( through headlines, lead and closing paragraphs, and
visual representations accompanying the text) were taken into account. Although
some of these categories were overlapping in the texts analyzed, four rhetorical modes
were found to be most prominent in news coverage of the U.S. invasion of Puerto
Rico: affirmation of authority, surveillance of the land and peoples invaded, classi-
cation of Puerto Ricans as colonial subjects, and debasement of their character
based on racial and socioeconomic dierences. Affirmation of authority and sur-
veillance were suggested in every news account examined and reinforced by the
visual representat ions included in the coverage. In addition to these modes, classi-
cation and debasement of character were suggested in 10 and eight articles
respectively.
The texts examined were drawn from six metropolitan dailies in the United
States : New Yorks W orld, D aily T ribune, and E vening P ost, the Chicago D aily N ew s, T he
Atlanta Constitution, and S an F rancisco Chronicle.
7
The analysis focused on the reporting
of two key events during the rst weeks of occupation: the entry of American troops
to Ponce, the rst town invaded by the U.S. military on July 25, 1898, and the
official ceremony of transition of power in the capital city of San J uan on October 17,
1898. For the rst event, news items published between July 25 and August 1, 1898,
were examined ; for the second event, stories published between October 18 and 20
were selected for analysis. A total of 62 texts making direct reference to Puerto Rico
in headlines and leads were identied : 38 news reports, seven editorials, and 17 illus-
trations.
8
As the numbers suggest, coverage of the invasion of Puerto Rico during the
Spanish-American War was sparse, especially when contrasted with the coverage of
News and Colonial Discourse 291
Cuba and the Philippines. This factwhich by itself might be indicative of the par-
ticular dynamic of U.S. political control that has characterized the relationship with
the island to this daymakes even more relevant the analysis of discourse in those
instances when Puerto Ricans have attracted the attention of the metropolitan press.
Analysis : Porto Ricans as Colonial Subjects
``Porto Rico was invented in the context of the U.S. military occupation of the
island.
9
From 1898 until 1932, government administrators, the press, and the general
public in the United States, and some Puerto Ricans themselves, officially referred to
the island by that name, even when the majority of the people continued to call their
country Puerto Rico. The construction of ``Porto Rico is an example of how the
island became the subject of a colonialist knowledge produced by military, juridical,
administrative, and social institutions, including the school system and the press
( Santiago-Valles, 1994, p. 239) . Without exception, the reports examined for this
study participated in the symbolic construction of ``Porto Rico as a geographical
space, and of ``Porto Ricans as a subjectivity that emerged and existed only in the
reality of North American colonial domination of the island.
Dominant Themes in Press Coverage
Coverage of the occupation of Puerto Rico focused on the deployment of U.S.
army troops and the task of securing control of the territory. In the items published
at the time of the occupation of the town of Ponce and the formal ceremony of
transition of power in the capital city, the few references to the inhabitants of the
island, their history and cultural background were conned to brief passages describ-
ing the reaction of Puerto Ricans to the invasion. The dominant themes were : the
U.S. military had undisputed authority over the island, and Puerto Ricans welcomed
invaders to their land. In most stories the second theme is subordinated to the rst
and appears supporting the view that the ``conquest has been auspicious.
1 0
Rhetorical Modes of Representation
News reporting about the invasion of Puerto Rico was dominated by two rhet-
orical modes : affirmation of U.S. authority and surveillance of the land and people.
These two modes were suggested in every news report in the selection through the
structure and content of headlines and leads and news angles emphasized, and were
reinforced by the display of visual images. Although less salient, the rhetorical modes
of classication of ``Porto Ricans as the colonized subjects, and the debasement of
their character based on racial and socioeconomic dierences were also recurrent
categories. These four rhetorical modes were not mutually exclusive ; on the contrary,
they complemented each other, as the examples below will illustrate.
292 I. Rodr

guez
Af f irmation: t he W hite M an s B urden. Colonialism must always affirm its value
through language that validates the presence of the writing or speaking subject.
According to Spurr, the primary affirmation of colonial discourse is one which jus-
ties the authority of those in control ( p. 107) . The rhetorical devices of repetition
and self-idealization serve to establish a political and ethical order. This rhetoric is
displayed on behalf of a collectivity which, in the case of the United States, has often
positioned itself as superior in the name of civilization, moral progress, and material
prosperity ( p. 110) . In all but one of the newspapers examined, the occupation of
Puerto Rico was endorsed and the authority of the United States over the island was
asserted, making reference to both the richness of the country and the ``manifest
destiny of the United States. It was reported that upon arrival to Ponce, U.S.
General Nelson Miles met local leaders and declared that the purpose of the
occupation was to ``bestow the advantages and blessings of our enlightened and
liberal institutions and government, to bring enlightened civilization.
1 1
Miles spoke
``briey with the mayor of the city, who ``oered his cooperation to the invaders.
Then, according to the account in T he A tlanta Const itution, Miles ``stepped out to the
balcony of the municipal building overlooking the plaza, where several thousand
people, including the re department and a number of bands were assembled. The
crowds cheered Miles. ( J uly 30, p. 1) .
In the S an F rancisco Chronicle, an editorial endorsed U.S. administration of the
``territories as the best alternat ive to returning ``the islands to the brutal rule of
Spain or leaving them to the ``maladministration of the natives ( Oct. 20, p. 2) . I n
the Chicago D aily N ews, ``Porto Rico was declared the ``most favorable island of all
the acquired territories to test the ``new policy of territorial expansion( Oct. 18, p.
2) . I n the New York E vening P ost, the only paper in which the occupation was ques-
tioned on the basis of democratic principles, an editorial writer argued that the poli-
tical will of Puerto Ricans should be taken into account, even though, ``. . . no
doubt, if Porto Ricans desire, United States should take them ( July 30, p. 4) .
More than in the direct reference to the manifest destiny of the United States,
colonial authority was affirmed through the representation of Puerto Ricans as ideal
colonial subjects who recognized U.S. authority and welcomed American tutelage.
Journalists emphasized the welcoming of invaders as a validation of the presence of
U.S. military forces. The relatively orderly transition and the enthusiastic reaction of
the population to the occupation, made ``Porto Ricans a people easily subdued,
relatively progressive, glad to be invaded, and lacking the ability or, more signi-
cantly, the desire for self-government. With one exception, discussed below, there was
no reference to the local political context or history of resistance among the colo-
nized, nor any historical explanation for this enthusiastic reception of U.S. troops.
The following examples show the similarity in language and perspecti ve in the
reporting :
Invaders were cordially welcomed . . . the populace received the troops and saluted
the ag with wild enthusiasm . . . conquerors seldom have found a subjugated city so
cordial ( ``Delirious Ponce With Joy, D aily N ews, July 30, p. 1) .
There was no resistance, Americans were welcomed with enthusiasm . . . official and
commercial representatives begged U.S. officials not to bombard ( ``Ponce Surren-
dered, E vening P ost, July 29, p. 1) .
News and Colonial Discourse 293
Nothing is more gratifying than the enthusiasm the natives are showing . . . received
the troops with genuine good will and desire to join them in the eort to expel the
Spanish. . . . Never before had the people of a conquered city immediately oered
the hospitalities of the city to the conquerors ( ``New Precedents in War, W orld, July
30, p. 6) .
The image of a holiday parade in the description of the peoples reaction to the
march of U.S. troops to Ponce is recurrent . For example :
The people of Ponce gave the Americans a happy reception. Were it not be [ sic] for
the businesslike appearance of the Army soldiers, the occasion might have been mis-
taken for a military parade on some holiday ( ``Ponce Freed From Yoke of Spain,
S an F rancisco Chr oni cle , July 30, p. 1) .
People in gala attire paraded the streets crying `viva americanos . . . every citizen in
holiday dress and mood ( ``Delirious Ponce With Joy, D aily N ews, July 30, p. 1) .
Similarly, on October 18, the coverage of the nal surrender and ceremony of
transition to U.S. rule reinforced previous descriptions of the population. According
to the Chronicle, there was an ``enthusiastic celebrati on of formal surrender that reiter-
ated the undisputed authority of the U.S. over the island . . . the ceremony was quiet
and dignied, unmarred by disorder of any kind ( ``Duty of Porto Ricans, p. 1) .
The report published in both the Constitution and W orl d provided a vivid account :
. . . the streets behind the soldiers were thronged with town people who stood waiting
in dead silence. As the last city clock struck the hour of twelve, the crowds, almost
breathless and with eyes xed upon the agpole, watched the development. At the
sound of the rst gun, while the band played the `Star Spangled Banner, . . . all the
heads were bare and the crowds cheered ( ``Porto Rico Has Passed From Under
Spanish Control, Constitution, p. 1; ``Old Glory Floats Over PR, W orl d, p. 7) .
As a group, Puerto Ricans were described as a submissive, cheering crowd who
accepted U.S. authority over their land. The few references to specic individuals
and social groups tended to reinforce this image. For instance, the mayors of Ponce
and Yauco, two towns occupied during the rst week of the invasion, were depicted
as laughable characters in an absurd drama. The mayors were two of only three
Puerto Rican sources quoted, and all newspapers examined for this analysis carried
some mention of their complacent behavior.
A correspondent for the Constitution described Ulpiano Colo

n, mayor of Ponce, as
``dressed in a fashionable afternoon dress, except that his shirt front was fastened with
large gold coins . . . he showed no regrets because the Americans were now in pos-
session. The mayor ``gave American officials a gracious welcome and asked to be
advised as to General Miles desires with regard to the government of the city
( ``Porto Ricans Are Glad of Invasion, July 31, p. 2) .
Likewise, representations of other social groups highlighted the emotional and
bizarre reactions of people to the military invasion. Upper class women caught the
attention of correspondents :
294 I. Rodr

guez
Never before have the ladies in their carriages and the young people in their bicycles
ocked to the port to witness a surrender. But people on this island have a habit of
making their own precedents ( ``Delirious Ponce, D aily N ew s, July 30, p. 1) .
Women adorned in their brightest gowns waved their hands and smiled as the troops
marched . . . women were smiling greetings from their carriages . . . while men were
crying `viva, viva americanos ( ``New Precedents in War, W orld, July 31, p. 6) .
Few and scattered descriptions of other social groups were found mostly in the Consti-
tution and the D aily N ew s :
One meets many men that say that they have sons at Harvard or Yale. They show
shops full of American goods . . . the city is wholly friendly except in business aairs
. . . money changers charge 25% of American gold. Former political prisoners were
freed and now haranguing sympathetic gatherings . . . Jesuit priests wanted informa-
tion on their support . . . but General Wilson said that there is no government money
for the Church . . . Father Chadwick said it will be all the better for the Church if its
own people learned to contribute to its support ( ``Porto Ricans Are Glad, July 31,
p. 2) .
Fireghters came down to the wharf and cheered lustily . . . drivers of public vehicles
did a thriving business in conveying the curious to the harbor to view American ships
. . . the poor were especially rejoiced ( ``Delirious Ponce, July 31, p. 1) .
Another way in which these texts affirm the authority of the United States over
the island through the use of the U.S. ag as a metaphor to signify the rise of Amer-
ican control. These constructions appeared in headlines such as ``Porto Rico is to be
measured for a nice suit of red, white, and blue colors ( D aily N ew s, July 30, p. 1) ,
``Stars and Stripes Hoisted and Spanish Rule Ends ( Chronicle, Oct. 19, p. 1) , ``Porto
Rico A New Star in the American Flag, ( W orld, July 31, p. 1) and ``Old Glory
Waves Over Porto Rico ( D ail y T ribune, Oct. 19, p. 7) .
Noticeably absent in these accounts is any reference to the Puerto Rican political
context, and the conditions that might have explained the ``cheerful and ``enthu-
siastic reception of the troops. According to most historical accounts, there were a
few pockets of localized resistance to the rst U.S. troops that landed on the island in
the summer of 1898, but in general, the invasion took place without signicant diffi-
culties for the U.S. army. Many Puerto Ricans indeed welcomed the invading army,
precisely because the United States represented a democratic alternat ive to Spanish
colonialism. Few leaders expected that Puerto Rico would become a U.S. colony. On
the contrary, they felt that there would be greater political and economic freedom
and equality in the association with the United States, either as a state of the union
or as an independent nation. Moreover, shortly before the invasion, the Puerto Rican
Liberal Party had negotiated with the Spanish authorities an autonomy agreement
that granted the island full representation in the Spanish Courts, extensive rights to
control trade and taris, and control over internal aairs. Just eight days before the
invasion, Puerto Rican voters had for the rst time elected an administrative council.
Thus, soon after the U.S. occupation, some opinion leaders began to express doubts
about the motives and increased inuence of the United States on the island. For
instance, an editorial in the Puerto Rican newspaper La D emocraci a stated : ``With the
News and Colonial Discourse 295
annexation to the United States, what we will get ? A change of pain and nothing
more. We will continue being exploited colonials ( quoted in Dietz, 1986, p. 84) .
In the selection of news examined, only one story mentioned the existence of
organized political groups in favor of annexation to the United States or indepen-
dence for Puerto Rico. Citing a letter sent to a U.S. official by an unidentied Puerto
Rican political activist, the writer for the Chronicle described the existence of networks
of secret organizations formed, by both advocates of U.S. annexation and of Puerto
Rican independence, to ght Spanish colonialism. The journalist then concluded,
``These people are a motley crew, armed with pistols . . . but they depend on the
American army to supply them with necessary weapons. They are enthusiastic and
will make excellent ghters ( ``Subduing Puerto Rico an Easy Task, J uly 30, p. 2) .
Here, the term ``enthusiastic appears again, emphasizing the ghters dependence
on the U.S. and the potential of the ``crew to ght against Spain.
In short, in most accounts of the invasion, the reporting of a peaceful, cheerful,
orderly, and welcomed invasion left little room for readers to question the authority
of the United States as a colonial power ; at the same time, such reporting provided a
clear justication for advancing the colonial enterprise.
S urveillance. Visual observation and description are at the core of the reporter s
work. In any given situation, the reporter has a privileged point of view and holds a
position of authority over what is observed, becoming a key participant in the process
of ordering and arranging aspects of the social reality into a coherent story. I n the
particul ar context of colonial domination, journalistic writing enters the space to
``convey the sense of mastery over the unknown and over what is often perceived by
the Western writer as strange and bizarre ( Spurr, 1993, p. 15) . The commanding
view of the writer, a gesture of colonization in itself, makes possible the exploration
and mapping of the territory. Placed above and apart from actual events, colonial
writers proceed to classify things according to their own value system, and literally
see the landscape in terms of promise for Western development or disappointment of
that promise ( Spurr, 1993, pp. 1619) .
In the reporting of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Puerto Rico, the descrip-
tions of the island, and of Puerto Ricans as extensions of the landscape, are promi-
nent in all the news stories examined. I n most cases, the descriptions of the
geographical space acquire the tone of military or police surveillance, without any
regard the local perspective on the unfolding events. The focus of coverage is placed
on the islands infrastructure and strategic location, its natural richness and beauty,
and the advantage of its predominantly white population. This use of race as a
central descriptive category suggests the prevalence of racial hierarchies as a frame
for the denition of the colonial enterprise. For example, when reporting on the
invasion of Ponce, the rst town occupied by American troops, the correspondent for
the Atlanta Constitution declared :
City of Ponce is romantic and picturesque, with a pleasing appearance, streets clean
and well paved. Porto Ricans are a well dened race, resulting from a blend of
Spanish and original Caribs, with a sprinkle of foreigners, mostly French and
German . . . When the soldiers reached the wharf, thousands of residents of the
citymen, women, and childrenlined the water front and shouts of joy and cries of
296 I. Rodr

guez
`Viva los Americanos, Buenos Dias, Puerto Rico Libre greeted them . . . on every
hand the greatest satisfaction was evidenced ( ``Porto Ricans are Glad of Invasion,
July 31, p. 2)
An article in the New York W orl d described Puerto Rico as an island
. . . neglected by travelers, less has been written about it than any other of the
Antilles possibly because there is little to say. More than half of the population is
white . . . they have revolted now and then, but the island is so small and so accessible
that guerrilla warfare is not successful ( ``Porto Rico Forts Targets for Yankee Guns,
July 31, p. 1) .
In the S an F rancisco Chronicle a reporter stated :
Porto Rico is not large but it is rich, as Hawaii, out of proportion to its size . . . is the
healthiest of the Antilles, productive in a widely varied way and strategically con-
sidered, answers all that could have been asked of the Danish West Indies, which
Senator Seward was once on the point of buying ( ``Ponce Freed from Yoke of
Spain, July 30, p. 1) .
Likewise, at the time of the formal surrender of the island on October 17, the
Chicago D aily N ews declared Puerto Rico:
The fairest, healthiest, most desirable though at the same time smallest of the Greater
Antilles . . . 5,300 square miles of territory with a population of 813,937 people, of
which 300,000 are negroes. It has telegraph lines, railroads, good harbors, and one of
the best military roads in the Western Hemisphere ( ``Porto Rico Chain Falls, Oct.
18, p. 2) .
In addition to the written descriptions, the pictorial representations that illus-
trated these accounts reinforced this emphasis on surveying the territory and its
resources. The sample of illustrations included maps of the island, sketches of harbors,
roads, and fortications, and general views of urban and rural settings. Where images
of humans appeared, these were anonymous, generally faceless gures in the land-
scape.
1 2
I n combination, these visual and textual representations construct a view of
the country as a promising land, with valuable resources, and a favorable climate
for U.S. expansion. Rather than objective observers, these writers and editors
approached the island from a particul ar frame of reference, that is, they transformed
the land and the people into desirable objects for colonial administration.
Classication. In discourses about colonialism, classication entails much more
than nomination. According to Spurr ( 1993) , it is the establishment of a ``character
for each natural being. The colonizers notion that peoples can be classied according
to their degree of progress along an evolutionary path is supported by the belief in
inherent moral and intellect ual dierences among races ( p. 66) . This system of classi-
cation was crucial for the project of colonization, since it served to demonstrate the
fairness of colonial rule, and, on a practical level, to justify the prescription of dier-
ent administrative tactics for each category of native ( p. 69) .
The most detailed characterization of Puerto Ricans found in this selection was
constructed by an unidentied writer for the New York D aily T ribune. The ``Porto
News and Colonial Discourse 297
Rican character, he stated, is a ``mixture of laziness and honestycharacteristics of
an oppressed racethat render the Porto Rican . . . a man to be carefully guided by
wise hands. Having a ``changeable nature, volatile temper, he is a cowardmoral
and physical . . . With a great amount of strength garnered in his small body, he is,
as a rule, a man that would not resent a blow. The writer claimed that he had
``frequently seen even the better classes take insults and blows with a nonchalance
that was amazing as it was disgusting. ``Indolence is a national sin, and one that
perhaps, will never be wiped out. On the positive side, ``next to honesty, politeness
is his whim . . . even the children of the very poor have this innate politeness much
further developed than the same class in the U.S. Drunkeness and thievery are
``almost unknown, and a ``natural honesty is evident. The writer concludes, ``not
that our Porto Rican cousins are not desirable acquisitionsespecially as they come
cheapbut one cannot help wondering whether they will ever became assimilated
with the American citizen ( ``The Porto Rican Character, Oct. 20, p. 7) .
In other reports, references to racial and socioeconomic dierences within the
Puerto Rican society served to dierentiate among groups on the island and between
Puerto Ricans and their American observers. For instance, while proclaiming Puerto
Rico the ``new star on the American ag, a correspondent for the W orld stressed the
lack of education and history of oppression of Puerto Ricans : the ``aristocracy is very
select . . . the native born has been looked upon with contempt by Spaniards . . .
peasants have been treated like dogs and ``less than 50,000 of the whole population
could pass a grammar school examination in any American School ( ``Porto Rico a
New Star, July 30, p. 1) . An editorial writer for the same paper expressed his doubts
about extending statehood to an island in the ``tropics, with 40 percent Negroes,
Spanish Negroes that is, and 86 percent illiterat e. This presents a problem that gov-
ernment needs to address ( July 30, p. 6) .
As illustrated by the editorial cited above, in the particular context of the U.S.
occupation of Puerto Rico, the rhetoric of classication leads to the issue of whether
or not to extend American citizenship to the colonized. Since annexation of the
island to the United States was debated as one alternat ive policy, the logical conse-
quence of establishing dierences between colonizer and colonized was the question-
ing of the desirability of granting citizenship to ``Porto Ricans. This became an issue
of debate in the U.S. Congress until 1917, when American citizenship was nally
imposed on all ``Porto Ricans.
D eb asement. The analysis of themes and modes presented here has suggested
how Puerto Ricans were portrayed primaril y as submissive and cheerful subjects who
recognized the authority of the U.S. armed forces and welcomed the troops.
However, this type of representation did not exclude the debasement of their charac-
ter, with occasional warnings about the irrational behavior, violent nature, and lazi-
ness of natives. As a rhetorical mode in colonial discourse, debasement is a type of
classication that focuses on the negative end of a system of values. As Spurr argues,
it is inspired by ``the fear and loathing that lie at the heart of classicatory systems
presented as the product of rational thought. The debasement of the Other in colo-
nial discourse arises not only from fear and the recognition of dierence . . . for the
abjection of the savage has always served as a pretext for imperial conquest and
domination ( p. 80) .
298 I. Rodr

guez
In three of the newspapers examined, the violent side of the natives was revealed
to U.S. readers in the coverage of the rst day of occupation. When describing some
of the actions taken by Puerto Ricans against Spanish authorities, T he At lanta Consti-
tution reported :
. . . natives are seeking revenge upon those who have worn the Spanish uniform . . .
natives want revenge, bloodhounds could not have been more savage. Mobs began
looting residences, mistook liberty for license and were crazed with a thirst for
vengeance. . . . Gen. Wilson however taught them that revenge could not be
wreaked under the protection of our ag ( ``Miles Army Will Rest Near Ponce, July
29, p. 1) .
In ``In terror of Natives, the W orld reported that U.S. officers feared ``natives
will kill and destroy, and described Puerto Ricans as ``hooting, jeering mobs drag-
ging Spaniards, and ``looting Spaniards residences ( Aug. 1, p. 3) . In the P ost, an
editorial ist concluded that ``native volunteers in Puerto Rico were not taught by
Spain to ght for the mother country but to suspect and stab in the back when a
good opportunity oered ( July 30, p. 4) .
Next to the violent and irrational behavior that made ``Porto Ricans a people
difficult to trust, the racial composition of the population also raised problems for
some metropolitan observers. A few days after American troops landed on the island,
a letter published in the ``Womans Only Page of the D aily T ribune, described social
conditions in the city of San Juan: ``with few exceptions, houses are occupied by
colored people . . . all the dirt and disorder seems to be ``caused by these people,
and it is certainly not a pretty sight to see houses lled with children of all colors, of
which the smallest percentage is decently clad. . . . One senora of good position . . . is
especially annoyed because she is obliged to keep doors and windows to the street
constantly closed . . . There is also the unpleasant odor of fried codsh which is
cooked for sale by her Negro neighbor. The writer added that in the countryside the
peasants were ``excessively credulous. . . . At the last election they were persuaded to
vote without inquiring upon what party they stood only on the ``assurance that they
would not have to pay more taxes ( ``Description of Porto Rico, July 29, p. 5) . The
legacy of Spanish colonial rule was cited by some sources as the root of the islands
problems. According to one editorialist for the D aily N ews, the ``manana method of
doing business ( slow, inefficient, lazy) prevailed on the island ( Aug. 1, p. 4) . Like-
wise, a senator named James K. Jones ( D-Kansas) was quoted in the P ost as object-
ing to the colonization of islands which, in his view, Spain kept ``practically savage
and incapable of self-government ( ``Against Territorial Expansion, Aug. 1, p. 2) .
The characterization of Puerto Ricans as a savage, violent, lazy, or backward
people was elaborat ed in only eight items analyzed, and mentioned briey and as a
matter of fact in news accounts that otherwise celebrated the submissive and cheerful
reaction of the crowds to the invasion. Nonetheless, these descriptions hint at some of
the contradictions and inconsistencies that characterize colonial discourse. As
Memmi ( 1965) argued in his writings about colonial relations, the fact that the traits
ascribed to the colonized are contradictory does not bother the colonizer. For only
colonizer-observers can construct, account for, and justify such images based on their
own psychological and material interests.
News and Colonial Discourse 299
Conclusion
This analysis of coverage of the military occupation of Puerto Rico in six U.S.
metropoli tan dailies suggests that journalistic interpret ations of the events of 1898
were part of a broader discourse that reinforced the central theme of U.S. colonial
authority over the territories and peoples conquered during the Spanish-American
War. The dominant themes in the coverage of the U.S. invasion of Ponce on J uly 25,
and of the ceremony of transition of power in San J uan on October 18, were the
affirmation of undisputed U.S. authority over the island, and the enthusiastic
recognition of such authority by Puerto Ricans. Within this framework, four rhet-
orical modes, typical of European colonial discourse, were identied in the news texts
analyzed.
The most salient of these rhetorical modes was affirmation of colonial authority.
One way of asserting colonial authority was through the invocation of manifest
destiny. In this case, the purpose of the occupation, in the words of U.S. General
Nelson Miles, was to ``bestow the advantages and blessings of an enlightened civi-
lization. Another common strategy of affirmation was the emphasis on the cheerful
reception of American troops by Puerto Ricans who were ``glad to be invaded and
ready to accept and submit to U.S. rule.
Surveillance of the territory and the people from the viewpoint of the colonizer
was another recurrent mode. U.S. correspondents surveyed the geographical space as
a promising land for development, focusing on its natural richness and beauty,
modern infrastructure, and predominantly White population. The people were
described in texts or represented in illustrations as extensions of the landscape, while
the voice of the native was never heard in the reporting of these events.
In addition to surveillance and affirmation, the rhetorical mode of classication
was identied in the attribution of a particular ``Porto Rican character by some
sources. This characterization emphasized the ``innate qualities of the natives or the
moral, racial, and socioeconomic dierences between colonizer and colonized. Char-
acter, racial diversity, and lack of formal education, were cited as factors that consti-
tuted ``Porto Ricans as the colonized other. Further, in the debasement of
character, these texts reveal the dangerous, ``savage nature of the same ``submis-
sive and ``cheerful native who ``welcomed invaders. This attribution of contradic-
tory traits to colonized peoples has been discussed as a basic feature of colonial
discourse across time that has helped to justify the maintenance of colonial authority
over the natives.
In conclusion, within the context of general public interest in the war and
ongoing political debates on the direction American imperiali st policy, U.S. press
coverage of the Spanish-American War was more than propaganda or sensationalist
and jingoist reporting. News reporting was also a form of discourse that, in a colo-
nizing gesture, inscribed an identity for the colonized, and provided justication for
the colonial administration of Puerto Rico by the United States.
Notes
1
The term ``post colonial is oft en used to designate the hist orical process mark ed by the dismantling
of formal inst itutions of colonial control, under conditions of continuing imperiali st relations of power. The
300 I. Rodr

guez
term is also applied to a set of theoret ical approa ches which, drawing from a variet y of disciplines and
theoriessuch as psychoanaly sis, deconst ruction, feminism, M arxism, st ructuralism and Gramscian
persp ectivescrit ique and seek alternat ives to West ern colonial pract ices. For a discussion of the trends
and persp ectives in this eld, see Williams and Chrisman ( 1993, pp. 120) .
2
I mperiali sm is dened as the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a dominating met ropolit an
center ruling dist ant territ ories. According to M ichael Doy le ( 1986) , imperialism is a formal or informal
relat ionship in which one st ate controls the eective polit ical sovereignty of anot her polit ical society. I t can
be achieved directly or indirectly by force, polit ical collaborat ion, or economic, social, or cultural depen-
dence ( p. 45) . Colonialism is a phase of imperiali sm and refers to the direct met rop olit an control of ot her
peoples land. As Benita Parry ( 1987) has st at ed, colonialism is a ``specic, and the most spectacular, mode
of imperialisms many mutable st at es, one which preceded the rule of international nance capit al, and
whose formal ending imperialism has surv ived ( p. 34) .
3
Following the denitions proposed by Foucault ( 1977) , discourse is underst ood here as socially
const ructed rules and conventions, syst ems of mediation that govern the way a subject is dened and
talk ed aboutwhen, where, and by whom. From this perspective, whenever one can dene a regularit y
bet ween objects, types of st at ements, concepts, or thematic choices, one is dealing with discourse. But
rather than monolit hic st ructures, discourses are discontinuous segments that in part icular hist orical condi-
tions combine in dierent ways in the service of power ( 3738) .
4
See for example t he hist orical analyses of F. M erk , 1963 ; A. Weinberg, 1963 ; R. Hofst adter, 1979 ;
A. Keller, 1969 ; R. Welch, 1979 ; J . R. Torruella, 1985 ; F. Pico , 1988.
5
I n the case of Cuba, since 1890 the M cKinley Tari Act had abolished import duties on Cuban
sugar and molasses and by 1896, U.S. interest s had invest ed $50 million in Cuba and controlled the sugar
indust ry . Cuba supplied one-t enth of all products import ed into the U.S., ranking third behind Great
Brit ain and Germany ( Keen & Wasserman, 1988, p. 434) .
6
Drawing from the work of T. Van Dijk ( 1988) , dominant themes are dened here as recurring
macrop roposit ions that summarize or reduce complex informat ion to its essential gist . I n news text s such
prop osit ions are conventionally st ated in headlines and leads. Rhet orical modes refer to the conceptual
categories const ructed for the purpose of representing colonized peop les and their territ ory, as, for inst ance,
debasement of character or classi cation of cultures based on West ern st andards of polit ical and technical
development ( Spurr, 1993) .
7
Since most st udies of press cov erage of the Spanish-American War hav e focused on New York
papers, this st udy at t empted to ext end the analysis t o dailies in ot her large cities in the U.S. t o explore
pot ential regional dierences in coverag e. No signicant dierences in rhet orical modes were observ ed.
The editorial posit ion of these papers on the decision of the United Stat es to enter the war was also taken
into account as a factor that could aect emphasis in coverag e, but again, no dierences in focus and
emphasis of cov erage were observ ed. Based on the information provided by Emery and Emery ( 1992, pp.
200203) , the sample was drawn from st rongly pro- interv ention papers like T he A tl anta C ons tituti on and
New York W or l d, anti-interv entionist papers such as t he New York E ve ning P os t , and S an F r ancis co C hr onicl e ,
and moderate papers like the New York D ail y T r ib une, and Chicago D ail y N e w s .
8
M ost of the report s were identied in the papers as ``sp ecial cable dispatch ; six items were report s
from the Associat ed Press. The names of correspondents and editorial writ ers were not published, with the
exception of a ``sp ecial corresp ondent identied as Franklin Clark in in the New York D ail y T r ib une.
9
Puert o Rico ( literally ``rich port ) was the name given by the Spanish colonial administ rators to the
island that the indigenous Tanos had called Borik en ( or the Land of the Prou d Lord ) .
1 0
See for example ``Port o Ricans are Glad of I nvasion. ( 1898, J uly 31) . T he A tl anta C ons tituti on, p. 2.
1 1
Quot ed in the art icles ``General M iles Proclaims Freed om to Port o Rico, ( 1898, J uly 30) , S an
F r ancis co C hr onicl e , p. 1 ; in ``Miles Proclaims Libert y to Ponce, ( 1898, J uly 30) , N e w Y or k W or l d, p. 2 ; and
in ``U.S. Colors Now Float ov er 50,000 Port o Ricans, ( 1898, J uly 30) , T he A tl anta C ons tituti on, p. 1.
1 2
Seventeen illust rat ions were found in this selection under the following headings. I n the D ail y
N e w s : ``Glimpses of San J uan, Capital of Port o Rico, J uly 30, p. 6 ( views of the harbor, old city wall,
ancient gate way , candy shop, a ``dusky belle in a park, and a ``nat ive hut in the country side) . I n the
W or l d : ``Old Glory Floats Over PR, Oct. 19, p. 7 ( image of American sold iers lined up and of a Puert o
Rican man t ak ing o his hat to salute the U.S. ag) ; also ``Port o Rico A New St ar in the American Flag,
( views of the main square in San J uan, a coaling st eamer, a group of peasants in a country side set ting, and
an unidentied ``Port o Rican Belle in a plaza) , and ``Port o Rico Fort s ( view of military fort s and harbor
in San J uan) , bot h published on J uly 31, p. 1. I n the C hr onicl e : ``American Flag Waves Over Ponce, J uly
30, p. 2 ( map of harbor) ; and in ``Port o Rico Now American Soil, Oct. 19, p. 1 ( view of the Spanish
captain general s palace) . I n the C ons tituti on : ``Port o Ricans are Glad of I nvasion, J uly 31, p. 2
( panora mic view of town of Ponce) , and ``U ncle Sams New Territ ory, Aug. 1, p. 2 ( map of Puert o Rico
and its location in the Caribbean) .
News and Colonial Discourse 301
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