Different types of journalism in English. On this page, we will look at the different types of journalism that you can find around the world. This page continues on from the information presented on the news in Level B1, so if you haven’t seen that lesson yet, we recommend you start there first!
Different types of journalism in English
Investigative journalism: This type of news story is investigated and researched thoroughly. With this type of news story, we should expect that there is proper evidence to back up the information being given. This type of reporting often aims to inform the public of unknown but factual information about a situation that it is important for us to be aware of. For example, investigative journalists might report from a place where war is occurring.
Watch dog journalism: This type of reporting is like investigative journalism in that its purpose is to uncover and expose wrongdoing. Watch dog journalists monitor the activities of large companies and influential figures and report activities that may be negative to society. This type of journalism aims to make sure these people and organisations are accountable for their actions. For example, into political campaign running up to an election, watch dog journalists may investigate the finances being used to fund a political campaign to make sure politicians are following campaign finance law rules.
Opinion journalism: As the name suggests, opinion pieces allow journalists to report on a topic based on their own ideas and opinions rather than facts. We can say these kinds of articles are subjective (based on what the writer thinks including their own personal biases) rather than objective (based on proven facts without opinion). Reading a range of opinion pieces can be useful because while some will be based on an opinion similar to your own viewpoint, you can learn more about the world reading opinions of others who see the world differently to you. A common example of opinion journalism is when political journalists report on a political situation from their own point of view.
Editorials: An editorial is an article written by the senior editorial staff or publisher of a newspaper, magazine, or any other piece of journalism giving an opinion or perspective about the subject topic. An editorial is sometimes called a ‘leading article’ in American English or a ‘leader’ in British English.
Entertainment journalism: Entertainment journalists report on all aspects of the entertainment business, including celebrities, movies, television, books and entertainment industry events such as movie premiers and awards ceremonies. Sometimes dishonest news outlets spread false information about celebrities’ private lives because they think the sensational stories they publish will bring more readers. In the English language, we use the Italian world ‘paparazzi’ to talk about photographers who follow famous people everywhere they go to take photographs of them for newspapers and magazines. Many famous people feel that this is harassment and that it intrudes on their privacy.
Gossip columns: Gossip columns are written by the type of journalist known as a gossip columnist. These types of stories will usually mix factual information, opinions and rumours about the lives of celebrities and other public figures. For example, information about arrests, divorces, marriages and pregnancies, from official records, mixed with gossip stories and rumours about romantic relationships, affairs, and personal problems. Relationships between famous people and gossip columnists can be complicated. On one hand, the stories published can be damaging to the subject’s reputation, can appear to be a breach of privacy and can sometimes be completely untrue. On the other hand, gossip columns are also are an important part of the publicity machine that turns movie actors and musicians into celebrities and superstars that ensure they get the general public’s attention and interest. In some cases, the publicity agents of celebrities may provide or ‘leak’ information or rumours to gossip columnists to publicise the celebrity, or to counteract ‘bad press’ that they have received about something they have done or said.
Problems with journalism
In recent years, we have heard of more and more problems with journalism in certain areas. Here are some of the common problems:
Biased reporting: Many news outlets will show some level of biased reporting. This means that the political stories they publish may mostly support a political philosophy e.g. a right wing or left wing government or opposition party in their country. It is therefore a good idea to read a range of news from different news outlets to get a balanced perspective of current affairs and what is going on in the world.
Hack writers: In journalism, a hack writer is deemed to operate as a “mercenary” or “pen for hire”. They do not focus on the truth, instead expressing their client’s political opinions in pamphlets or newspaper articles regardless of the real situation.
Fake news: This is when false news or ‘fake news’ spreads quickly and people believe it. This type of news is made to deliberately trick people into believing news that is not true. Sometimes there is a political reason for this. For example, sometimes news outlets like ‘the gutter press’ are accused of spreading false information to support a political point of view that is not necessarily true or in the best interests of the general public. Of course, the issue in modern times is that news that is actually accurate and factual is dismissed as ‘fake news’ by those who want to discredit (to damage the reputation) of the writer or the newspaper, network or website that published it.
Astroturfing: The term ‘astroturfing’ is used to describe a situation where information is presented that looks like it is comments from members of the public but where it is in reality a deliberate marketing or public relations campaign designed to influence the general public’s opinions about a subject. The reason is most often political. When astroturfing occurs, the chain of who is funding a certain campaign is hidden from public view. Astroturfing intends to create uncertainty and lower trust in a certain authority or belief system while increasing support for that of the people or organisations funding the campaign.
Conspiracy theories: A conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that promotes the belief that a situation has occurred because of the actions of a sinister and powerful group, most often with a political goal. Certain subjects that can often attract conspiracy theories include famous deaths and assassinations, government activities, technologies, and terrorism. There are some people who believe that people have never been to the moon, for example.