The theory of genres of journalism in the conditions of transformation of a media system

E.V. Vyrovtseva

 St.Petersburg University

  Abstract: Change in the last decades of a socio-political situation, economic conditions, updating of the legislation in the sphere of media and rapid development of multimedia technologies was led to transformation of the settled system of communication. New practice of mass media as one of the most noticeable calls of the 21st century demanded revision and science about journalism, including revision of the genre theory.

E.V. Vyrovtseva

The theory of genres of journalism in the conditions of transformation of a media system

Abstract: Change in the last decades of a socio-political situation, economic conditions, updating of the legislation in the sphere of media and rapid development of multimedia technologies was led to transformation of the settled system of communication. New practice of mass media as one of the most noticeable calls of the 21st century demanded revision and science about journalism, including revision of the genre theory.

Keywords: journalism genres, Russian journalism, Russian media system.

Екатерина Владимировна Выровцева

Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет

Теория жанров журналистики в условиях трансформации медиасистемы

Аннотация: Изменение в последние десятилетия социально-политической ситуации, экономических условий, обновление законодательства в сфере СМИ и бурное развитие мультимедийных технологий привело к трансформации устоявшейся системы коммуникации. Новая практика СМИ как один из самых заметных вызовов 21-го века потребовала пересмотра и науки о журналистике, в том числе пересмотра жанровой теории.
Жанр как понятие традиционное и центральное в анализе любого текста (утверждение М. Бахтина «текст не существует вне жанра» по-прежнему актуален) нуждается в уточнении сегодня. И что еще важнее и сложнее — это пересмотр содержания жанров и их классификация

Ключевые слова: Жанры журналистики, Российская журналистика, Российская медиасистема.

The genre as a concept traditional and central in the analysis of any text (M. Bakhtin’s statement “the text does not exist out of a genre” is still relevant) needs specification today. And that it is even more important and more difficult – it is revision of maintenance of genres and their classification. Obviously, the theory of journalistic genres, which can satisfy absolute majority of researchers, has not yet been created, and it is confirmed by a sociological study conducted a few years ago, and field science conferences, and the topics of seminars and round tables: “Today of domestic journalism is marked by the phenomenon which in use is called composition (interpenetration) of genres. Its essence consists that genre distinctions of journalistic materials are shown in information streams less and less are considerably and poorly caught not only by audience, but also the professional environment” [6. Page 3]. Meanwhile the genre remains the intrinsic parameter of any text and the most important unit of the classification preparing the reader for contents perception. The genre allows the author to find the most adequate form for reflection of modern reality and for expression of own point of view, assessment of objects of this reality.

The discussion is led not only around different approaches to classification of journalistic texts, but concerning genre forming factors. Most of researchers (M. Kim, A. Tertychny) distinguished three main factors until recently – a subject, the purpose, a method. Professor L. Kroychik is sure that it is necessary to consider the ways of expression of a position of the author, and plot-composition features of a publicist statement. And G. Lazutina and S. Raspopova, who are the authors of the education guidance, include expressive and  figurative means in number of obligatory signs and also enter the concept “genre model” and characterize specifics of this or that genre depending on type of creative activity of the journalist. They divided professional practice into news, problem and analytical, essay, humorous, cultural and educational and interactive journalism [6]. The famous journalist and the author of education guidance A. Kolesnichenko attempted to systematize new practice of domestic media and offered quite disputable classification of “genres of applied journalism” [4]. Not the smaller discussion is caused also by the classifications of genres of Internet journalism offered by different authors.

Certainly, such situation is caused by various reasons connected both with media practice development, and with complexity of the problem of genres: “The theory of speech genres is one of the few models of communication operating in practice considering such important parameters as a situation and the sphere of communication, style, a speech form, ways of registration of the beginning and end of the speech, transfer of an initiative in dialogue and also strategy and tactics of conducting communication” [8]. It is indicative that A. Tertychny limited the analysis of development of the theory of genres of journalism to the pre-perestroika period [9]. Features of a modern media discourse draw attention of representatives of the most different sciences – philology, linguistics, communication studies, history, psychology, etc. Difficult, contradictory and very interesting processes in the sphere of mass media cause such interest. And even more often at characteristic of these processes the word “metamorphoses” is used, speak about “transformations” of ways of submission of information (P. Gutiontov), language and style of texts of media (G. Solganik), the principles of relationship of a communicator and audience (S. Korkonosenko), execution of printing editions (V. Skorobogatko), etc.

  1. Kroychik determines the content of category “genre” precisely and laconically: “rather steady structural and substantial organization of the text caused by a peculiar reflection of reality and the nature of the relation of the creator to them” [5. Page 138]. Changes are most noticeable in actively developing system of ways and methods of reflection of reality and also in means of expression of a position of the author.

New realities of the Russian reality demanded new types of the text. Possibilities of a genre as typological and historically concrete category consist in that, on the one hand, “memory of the genre” is preserved (M. Bakhtin), and on the other hand, the genre is ready to change, “be displaced” (Y. Tynyanov), “to regenerate at a meeting with each new reader” (V. Skobelev). Such comparison is quite admissible today: like Lutsy from Apuley’s “Metamorphoses”, the traditional genres which passed a huge way from noble journalism of the 18th century to Soviet in the last decades underwent various transformations and a set of misadventures (and some, as well as the Gold donkey, appeared on a hair from death). However journalistic genres managed to survive, and their potential allows them to correspond to modern times.

Important and expediently at this stage to establish the reasons of changes of genre execution of journalistic messages. Features of functioning of modern mass media demanded radical revision of traditions, search of the most adequate receptions and methods of representation of the fact in this or that type of media. First of all it is necessary to pay attention to dialectic development of two trends defining requirements to ways of reflection of modern reality. It, on the one hand, development of news journalism, journalism of the fact and as its versions – data-journalism: “Recently in the world market of media the most interesting phenomenon promising considerable changes as to the market of media, and those who is involved in this sphere began to meet. It is about so-called data-journalism, specialization which name can be translated literally as “journalism of data” [10]. At the same time right there is a question of categorial value of this phenomenon: the data-journalism is quite often called a genre: “it is the new genre of journalism using socially available databases for providing information (from here and the name), that is statistical reports, schedules, lists, cards and many other things” [10]. Such approach in a root is not right since «the journalism of data» can be only a form or the direction of creative activity, but not a type of the journalistic text.

On the other hand, the trend in many respects contradicting domination of news and fact in the media text, which very precisely L. Kroychik called personification of the journalistic text, is obvious. This trend is expressed in strengthening of the personal beginning in all genres, including a note, information radio – and the TV-message, news in online editions. On the basis of the competition, rivalries of journalism of the fact and journalism of a word are born new genre educations. For example, a note comment, the lyrical report, a column in different types of editions, a remark on radio and on television, the satirical comment, etc.

The following reason is a formation of new types of periodic editions and transformation traditional that in turn demanded new types of texts. Today the interconditionality of genre characteristics of the text and type of the edition does not raise doubts. Especially considerably it when comparing such traditional genres, as the report, an interview, correspondence, an essay, in the business press and in yellow editions. Not less brightly this trend is shown at the appeal to a genre of journalistic investigation. For example, genre implementation of “search journalism” (D. Muratov) in Novaya Gazeta has fundamental differences with so-called investigations in Komsomolskaya Pravda or in the newspaper Zhizn’.

Not less significant is also a trend caused by integration of the journalist, advertising, public relations and mass culture. The multi-functionality of the media text caused by this process demanded revision of the settled genre system. Many genres are borrowed from other types of creative activity: everyday history in advertising represents transformation of a sketch or an essay; genres of advertizing and public relations the recommendation and council became stronger in the system of journalistic texts and became an integral part of consumer journalism; the serial which is characteristic of mass culture were approved in TV-journalism, etc.

Special role, in our opinion, in transformation of genres of journalism and consequently and in emergence of new approaches to their theoretical judgment, play multimedia technologies and functioning of convergent editions. It resulted in need of creation of the universal types of the text capable to exist on different platforms. Not so long ago appeared collection “Journalism and convergence is devoted to problems of functioning of modern convergent journalism: why and as traditional media turn into multimedia” [3]. Recently there was a large number of new terms in connection with emergence of multimedia text models: long-form jourmalism, timeline, multimedia project, journalism of drones, a flash-note, a news feature, etc. M. Lukina calls multimedia history “top of activity of convergent edition, its reference product” [7. Page 269]. However all listed terms can hardly be carried to names of genres. So far it is only new ways of formation of content with use of digital technologies. However in the theory of genres of journalism this direction already takes the important place and, certainly, deserves special attentive studying.

The system of genres is influenced also by development of such trends as globalization of information and differentiation of audience. Especially it is important in a situation of transformation of media into multimedia editions: the role of the information user who had an opportunity independently “increases to define the movements and logic of obtaining information” [3. Page 20]. It is possible to speak also about individualization of the genre forms calculated on certain background knowledge of the recipient.

Separately it is necessary to tell about influence of an esthetics of postmodernism on journalistic creative activity. Popularity of a columns, development of a blogosphere, formation of so-called author’s genres – all this is in many respects caused by features of postmodern practice. In our opinion, among them is most influential in relation to journalism genres: washing out of borders between mass and elite, creative and household, substitution of existing life picture virtual reality, mosaicism of composition, pervasive irony, an intertextuality, a game as a popular way of dialogue with audience.

As result, emergence of a large number of the hybrid forms based on mix of elements, characteristic features of different types of publications. It is not only about multimedia texts which technologies of creation allow to unite genre forms, but also about traditional, apparently, newspaper genres. It is and portrait interviews-essayes, that , so popular in modern media, and ironical reports-feuilletons by A. Kolesnikov, Y. Sankovich, V. Yakov, V. Tolokin; and feuilletons-lampoons by M. Sokolov, A. Bilzho, Dm. Bykov; and essay-reviews,  essay-round-up by A. Bossart; and essay-articles by N. Varsegov.

All these publicists actively address precedent-setting texts. The associative array caused by inclusion of elements of other texts forces the reader to project a genre of the precedent-setting text on that which he reads in the newspaper at present. Researchers call this trend differently: personification (L. Kroychik), essaization (M. Shostak), subjektivization (M. Kim). Not accidentally, I. Annenkova enters the concepts “rhetorical position of the journalist” and “rhetorical modality of the media text”, pointing that “the rhetorical position becomes an axiological core of the text” and that the modern journalist “is not free not only from a cultural and ideological context of reality, but also from the owner of media” [1. Page 109]. Increases in this situation value of “game interpretation of reality” [1. Page 112] at which also a game with genre forms is not excluded.

  Thus, the journalistic text as “the realized, incarnate discourse, the difficult communicative phenomenon including except the text also extra linguistic factors (knowledge of the world, opinions, installations, the addressee’s purposes), necessary for understanding of the text” [2. Page 12], is in process of constant search of the most interesting, most original, most convincing genre embodiment today. In these conditions, the most different approaches to a research of both separate genres, and constantly developing genre system in general are possible. The theory of genres of journalism today, is generally concentrated on search of the universal approaches to the analysis of very different types of the text, on formation of the principles and criteria of classification of genres, on characteristic of genre model of concrete types of editions and concrete communication channels.


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