The aim of this study is twofold: one, to determine the presence and function of scientific knowledge when it is required by such cases as ‘mad cow’ disease, when the crisis breaks in the press; and two, to explore the role of scientific information through the analysis of quoted speech used by journalists in their discourse. Citation is the most explicit form of inclusion of otherdiscourse (D2) in one’s-discourse (D1). Within the framework of the theory of énonciation (Ducrot’s poliphony perspective), in combination with a critical view of discourse, we analyse the following: (1) the identity of agents of reference chosen by journalists; (2) the specific linguistic choices made in the pre-citation segment where the agents are introduced, that is, identification of discourse procedures and use of specific verbs of communication. The study shows the proportion of scientific and non-scientific voices, the different ways of representing science agents in the process of news communication as well as the use of citation by journal writers not just to confer authority and legitimation to their discourse but to set the scene of the conflict. The scientific role is not presented as a decisive social role capable on its own of reassuring public alarm and journalists fail to secure appropriate credibility for the scientific community.
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