Journalism is generally defined as the production and distribution of reports on recent events, but in the 21st century, is that really all there is to this time-honored profession? Are there multiple types of journalism? Is journalism confined to one medium?
Like everything that’s constantly changing around us, so has journalism evolved.
Journalism in a nutshell
Journalism actually made its first appearance in Rome around 59 B.C. and was known as Acta Diurna. From that point and up until the 20th century, journalism was mostly about delivering news to people.
In fact, that purpose was so sacred, a journalist had to be a very educated person, with a background in literature, history, and mass communication. Journalists were also expected to have a sense of social responsibility and strictly adhere to ethical standards.
Over time the format of delivery evolved from public speeches to include printed newspapers, magazines, telegraphs, radio, television, and most recently, online platforms.
These days, journalism, though still a very important profession, is quite different; now, there’s more to journalism than delivering the news. Different types, techniques, and purposes have emerged.
The different types of journalism in the 21st century
1. Investigative Journalism
Investigative journalism requires journalists to embrace the detective inside of them. This genre of journalism reveal secrets in every sector of life–political corruption, allegations of fraud, you name it– and invites the readers to think more about the facts that are presented.
Investigative journalism can be used in any field, because you can make anyone not only interested, but also very curious.
This type of journalism depends heavily on the facts, the captivation factor, and the reader’s curiosity.
In my opinion, the most important element in investigative journalism is the headline. After all, it’s the main captivator in writing.
2. News Journalism
News journalism is probably the type of journalism that is most closely aligned with older iterations of the profession.
Ideally succinct and to the point, articles in this genre simply convey a piece of news. No sugarcoating, no interjecting opinions, nothing.
They may contain a little bit of euphemism because some news is too hard to handle, but nothing more or less than the truth.
At the core of this type of journalism is the news itself, and how you convey it.
Reviews are the harmonious medley of opinions and facts.
Simply put, a review says: here are the facts about this place or product that we can neither change nor debate, but here’s what I think of this place or product.
In reviews, writers introduce a product or place, describe it to the readers, and eventually conclude with whether or not they would recommend it and why.
Reviews are tricky, because there’s a super-fine line between being personal and being objective, and a review should be in between.
It shouldn’t sound like a news report, but nor should it read like a paid endorsement.
The key in a good review is maintaining that balance, and a well-timed review is a review gone viral.
A column is like a personal blog in the modern world. A writer claims a column in a newspaper–which could be as small as a box or as big as a full page–and writes anything he or she would like in it.
The column is fully dedicated to the author, who sometimes even chooses the name for it. It’s the columnist’s own space to share his or her ideas or thoughts in a newspaper or magazine.
A column’s main focus is the personality of the writer; what they like, what they do, and what they write about, basically.
Examples of famous writers who were/are also columnists include Charles Bukowski, Stephen King, and Mitch Albom.
Many writers eventually move on to other formats, while others do a column to preserve their presence and fame.
A column is sometimes the first stop on the road for building a loyal readership.
5. Feature Writing
Last but certainly not least (at least in word count), feature writing is basically taking a topic and magnifying the focus on it to capture every single detail.
A feature article opens the gates of ingenuity inside the journalist’s mind; they unleash their creative monster onto the papers to really get into the depths of whatever topic they’re covering.
Feature articles aim to give you the full 4-1-1 on a topic, not sparing a single detail nor saving any words.
In fact, a feature article is the longest of the previously discussed types of articles.
Feature articles’ secret sauce is the creativity, the way the writer approaches the topic, and the topic itself.
In other words, the more exclusive, the better.
And there you have it! These are the basic genres of journalism, what they are, how they’re used, and what’s the focal point of each.