Discuss different Types of Reporting in Journalism?

List of various Types of Reporting:

Based on the topics and nature of news, there are different types of reporting such as objective, interpretative, investigative and crime reporting.

Objective Reporting:

Reporting should be an impersonal job. A reporter should essentially be a story teller. He should tell the story in an objective and truthful manner, without lacing it with any personal opinions or comments. He should be fair and impartial in presenting the story.

Some argue that to achieve complete objectivity is not possible. Complete objectivity is a mere concept. Their argument is that the reporter is a human being and he has certain ideas, feelings, attitudes, opinions and prejudices and that will definitely reflected in the news story.

A good reporter however should try to rise above all of them and tell the facts as he has collected them in his search for truth. A reporter should be responsible in his presentation. No responsible reporter would behave like the notorious American journalist, Janet Cooke, who won the prestigious Pulitzer prize in 1980 for a story about drugs which was later proved to be fictional. The reporter committed a fraud by dramatist a fake scene in which an eight year old boy was injected with heroin supplied by the lover of the boy’s mother.

A national daily carried on its front page that there was a “mass rape” at a students function in a Madhya Pradesh town which was found later on to be baseless. After the report appeared on the front page of the newspaper it caused a sensation.

The Editor asked a reporter to investigate. The reporter first questioned the reporter of the news item, who insisted that the mass rape had happened. To corroborate he produced a number of eye witnesses. However, when they were cross-examined and asked specifically to reveal only what they had seen, they baffled and the investigator soon realized that the reporter had written the story on the basis of a gossip and filed it without verifying the facts.

The fact was during a function to celebrate the annual day of a local college, a portion of the shamiana came down, the electricity got cut off and a few students entered the women’s enclosure and molested some of the girls.

Reporter must remember that facts are sacred. He must check and cross-check the facts from different sources until he is absolutely sure of them. Only then he should write the story. The golden rule of reporting is tell the truth of course, objective reporting is not synonymous with dullness. It means fair and impartial reporting that is free from personal bias or prejudice.

Interpretative Reporting:

Interpretative reporting interprets facts. Reporter tries to balance the writing with reasons and meanings of a development. Reporter provides the information along with an interpretation of its significance. He uses his knowledge and experience to offer the reader an idea of the background of an event and explain the results it could led to. Besides his own knowledge and research, the reporter also takes the opinions of specialists to support the report.

According to Curtis D. MacDongall, author of book Interpretation Reporting, the first important inputs to interpretative reporting was provided by World War-I. When the First World War broke out, most Americans were taken by surprise. They were unable to explain its causes. This resulted in changes in the style of reporting. In 1939, when the Second World War started, an overwhelming majority of the Americans expected it or at least knew it was possible.

MacDongall says an interpretative reporter is aware of the fact that a news item is not an isolated incident, but an inevitable link to a chain of important events. An interpretative. reporter cannot succeed if he is hampered by prejudices and stereotyped attitudes, which would bias his perception of human affairs.

Interpretative reporting thus goes behind the news, brings out the hidden significance. He says a successful journalist should be more than a thoroughly trained journeyman with his reading of history, economics, sociology, political science and other academic subjects.

For Example

In July the elections to the Lok Sabha took place. In interpretative reporting, the reporter would give the reader the breakup of the results and would provide facts the composition of the House have been made.

The elections of the five states assembly were held in July. The interpretative reporter would not only convey the news of the victory of Congress party in three states, but analyses the reasons behind it and reflect on the consequences of his victory for the future of the Congress and other parties.

Investigative Reporting:

It is a fact that all types of reporting requires little bit investigation, in investigating reporting, the reporters goes beyond the limits of basic reporting. Investigative reporter digs deeply beyond the facts stated in the hard news. An investigative reporter sees himself as the conscience of society, pursuing corruption without fear or favor.

Clark R. Mollevhogg in the foreword of his book Investigative Reporting mentions three elements of investigating reporting:

  • The report has to be the own work of the reporter. Under no circumstance should it be of others,
  • The subject should be such that it is of importance for the readers to know and
  • Reporter must not make any attempt to hide the truth from the people.

In western countries investigative reporting has made great leaps. However, in India it is still in its infancy. Most newspapers in India do not have the manpower and funds necessary for a first-rate investigative job.

According to one eminent Indian Editor, attempts at investigative reporting are like drilling for oil. There may be a fair amount of wastage of effort, but when the oil is discovered and becomes marketable, the sense of achievement is usually more than in any other sector of journalistic enterprise.

The Watergate story which led to the disgrace and downfall of US President Richard Nixon is the best example of investigative reporting. On June 17,1972, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two young reporters of The Washington Post, started investigating the arrest of four men for a burglary at Watergate, the Democratic Party’s national headquarters.

But at that time they had no idea that their investigation would result in the resignation of the President. During their investigation, they maintained the highest standards of professional journalism. The reporters did not start gunning for Nixon from the beginning. They only pursued the burglary attempt and only later came up with startling facts linking the White House with it. We did not go after the President, we went after the story they said.

In India, investigative reporting started after the end of the emergency in 1977, particularly by The Indian Express.

Investigative reporters in India have brought to light a number of scandals including the Bhagalpur blinding incidents by the police, Kuo oil deal, A.R. Antulay’s private trusts, the securities scam involving Indian and foreign banks and stock brokers. Once a reporter got himself arrested for writing a first-hand account of life in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

Investigative reporting requires hard and sustained work. The investigative reporter should be a combination of a crusader. super detective and blood hound and he should have the necessary time and finance to carry out his work.

An investigative reporter should base his report on incontrovertible facts, not on half-truths and lies. He should be wary of lobbies and lobbyists-political or commercial-trying to misguide him. Also, he should not behave like a peeping Torn or a prosecutor. The best kind of investigative reporting is that which keeps the public interest in mind. It may highlight an injustice, expose corrupt practices or unmask dishonest politicians and bureaucrats.

As per the experience, an investigative reporter cannot bring his reports to logical ends unless he gets the support of the judiciary, the executive or the legislative. The Bhagalpur blinding report would have ended like any other report if a public interest litigation would not have been filed against the police. In the US, the Watergate stories would not have led to any result if they did not get the support of the legislative which threatened the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

CRIME REPORTING:

Crime is special and separate beat in daily newspapers. They have separate reporters to report crimes. However, crime reporting is part of the objective, interpretative and investigative reporting. Public have tremendous interest in crime stories and newspapers cannot afford to ignore them without damage to its circulation and credibility. Some newspapers had tried to keep crime out of their columns, but that proved counterproductive and they soon included the crime reporting.

Junior reporters generally cover crime, but it is a highly responsible and specialized job. The reporter should have good contacts in the police and other departments of the administration. He must have a working knowledge of the penal codes and law on libel and other relevant matters.

The crime reporter has to follow a code of conduct. He should be objective in reporting. He should avoid resorting to sensationalism to get the attention of the readers. He should not suppress news of public interest, nor should he seek to settle personal scores with police officers or lawyers or judges. He should also be careful that in the course of this work he does not unnecessarily invade a person’s privacy.

Crime reports should not glorify the activities of criminals. The crime reporter should follow standards of decency and good taste. People sometime criticize crime reporting by the press. Some reporters have also been found following unethical standards, thus causing much pain and sorrow to the victims or their families and friends.

Crime as news:

There are various types of crime news including fires, accidents, robberies, burglaries, fraud, murders, blackmail, kidnapping and rape.

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