Speech act verbs have characteristic uses in journalistic texts. Our analysis shows that there is a metapragmatic shell which specifies how clarifying speech act verbs – ajouter, préciser, souligner, indiquer – are employed in reported speech microstructures, and with respect to which each verb has its own lexico-pragmatic specificity. To illustrate our genre-specific method of lexical analysis, préciser and souligner are examined in detail. These verbs contribute to textual cohesion and to clarification in terms of the relation between the reported speech they introduce and the discourse context in which they are used. They are also subject to the economy of the journalistic text, in particular the balance between scription (conventional writing) and écriture (creative writing). Thus, they evidence convergence of meaning, semantic bleaching and stylistic variation: that is, there is a semi-grammaticalisation of these verbs.