Journalistic form of presentation

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Journalistic forms of presentation apply to all media, i.e. newspapers , magazines , radio , television and the Internet , although the medium itself also plays a not insignificant role ( media adequacy ). Characteristic of West German journalism teaching after 1945 is the separation of information and opinion (separation rule) adopted by American journalism .

Informative forms of representation

Writing news and reports is the journalistic core craft. The topics are selected according to their news value , which is made up of: a) topicality and b) knowledge, entertainment and utility value. More than any other form of presentation, news and reports are oriented towards the goal of objectivity ; they must abstain from any evaluation.

  • Short message : the representation of an event of general interest, restricted to the minimum. This is usually something that has already happened; but it can also be an announcement.
  • Message : The compact representation of an event that is interesting and important to readers, radio listeners or television viewers. In contrast to the short message, the message provides answers to all journalistic W-questions relevant to the topic: Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? Where from / which source?
The basic principle applies to the structure of the message: The most important thing, the core, comes first. The other building blocks follow the core: details, source, background (ie previous history, connections, interesting additional information). The sequence of these components is not rigid, but depends on the expediency. For example, it can be useful to go into the history first and only then to describe the details of the event. In the more recent specialist literature one speaks of the "building block model". It is less strict than the inverted pyramid principle developed in the United States in the 19th century. Above all, it is intended to illustrate that the importance of the facts decreases downwards: the pyramid is wide at the top, narrow and pointed at the bottom. This makes it very easy to shorten articles starting from the bottom.
  • Report: longer than the message, but identical in structure: the most important things, the most interesting things first. The report contains details (e.g. longer quotations) and background information that go beyond the core of the message, including cited judgments, assessments, and expert opinions.

Other informative forms

The longer information-oriented forms of representation do not usually follow the principle of 'first things first', but rather a common thread and a tension arc . In contrast to the strictly objective forms of short messages , news and reports , the person of the journalist often appears - with subjective observations and assessments. Eckart Klaus Roloff therefore called forms such as reportage , feature , portrait and essay interpretive forms of representation. Wolf Schneider and Paul-Josef Raue speak of entertaining, Michael Haller of narrative forms.

  • Reportage : Lively description of an event that the reporter himself (has) observed. This form of representation becomes clearest in the live report on the radio: The reporter says what he sees and what else he knows about the matter. The reporter puts his impressions on paper for the print report. He must have been at the scene himself. As Tempus for a live-like description of the features present on. In contrast to the report, the report not only cites official sources, but also “ordinary” people. It is ideal if a report makes the general visible in the concrete.
  • Feature : more colorful and diverse than the report. The live-like description is not in the foreground, it often only serves as an introduction. Rather, the feature is about general topics that are not tied to the daily news, which are illustrated in individual cases. According to Walther von La Roche , "constant change between view and abstraction, between description and conclusion" characterize the form of representation. (s also radio feature ).
  • Portrait : A person, a group, an institution or a company can be portrayed journalistically. For personal portraits, a combination of (freely reproduced) interview and reportage or feature is often chosen. A company portrait is usually more informative. Portraits can even contain commentary elements. Strictly speaking, the portrait is not a form of representation, but a content ( La Roche ).
  • Interview : conversation of one or more journalists with the interviewee in question and answer form, reproduced in the (edited) original sound or original text . There are three types of interview: fact-centered, person-centered, and opinion-centered.
    • In a fact-centered interview, an expert answers questions about a matter. Possible use: on advice or technology pages.
    • In the face-to-face interview, the focus is on the interest in the person being interviewed. Possible use: in society publications, talk shows.
    • The opinion is the focus of the opinion-centered interview.
A mixture of several variants is possible; in the case of a longer interview with a politician, the conversation will very likely be about factual issues as well as the person. Interviews are often proofread by the interlocutor before publication and then authorized , i.e. released. This is not about censorship ; a significant change in the content of the conversation afterwards is unusual. Rather, the interlocutor should have the opportunity to check the content of the statements. If the interviewee changes the content significantly during the authorization phase, he runs the risk that the editorial team will not publish the interview. In some cases, newspapers have already printed blank pages, indicating that an interview with XY should have appeared at this point, but that this was not done due to excessive interference. Authorization is not common in Anglo-American journalism.
Special form: survey or Vox pop .

Forms of expression of opinion

While the opinion of the journalist has no place in the informative forms, it is the hallmark of the following forms of presentation:

  • Leading article : The leading article deals less with current topics and more with developments and trends . In doing so, it not only reflects the opinion of a single author, but also (based on the basic tendency of the respective publication organ) the opinion of the majority of the editors (holds up the "flag" of the editors, so to speak) ( Editorial )
  • Comment : The opinion of a single author on a (current) issue that was previously reported on elsewhere (on radio and television or in the print media). There are basically three different types of comments:
    • In the one-side / other-side commentary, the author compares various arguments for and against the facts without committing to a position.
    • The straight-ahead comment strives straight towards its goal.
    • The argumentative comment usually contains three to five arguments on the part of the author to justify his opinion. At the end, the judgment that was already made at the beginning is received with affirmation; sometimes a last sentence gives an outlook.
  • Criticism : Here a publication (especially new books and other print products, plays, films, television productions), an institution or an event is discussed in detail. In the case of cultural events, especially books, one speaks of a review or discussion ; If the criticism is negative or destructive , because it regards the object of its consideration as having failed in the essential parts of its execution and goal setting, from a slap . An evaluation of products is called a test . The criticism also uses elements of other journalistic forms of representation: report (news), reportage, comment, if necessary interview (quotations), feature, essay, gloss. It combines opinion and information and often has concrete benefits .
  • Glossary : A collective term for short, subjectively written opinion articles with sharp arguments. All kinds of topics can be dealt with in one gloss. Most of the time their undertone is cheerful and ironic. Glosses in local newspapers or local editions of national newspapers are called local glosses (or local tips). Wordplay , metaphors , irony and satire are often used as stylistic devices.
  • Column : An opinion article by a single, often well-known publicist.
  • Essay : An essay, more rarely: Essai (der, seldom: das; about French essai from Middle Latin exagium, “sample”, “attempt”) is a short, witty treatise in which an author provides subjective considerations on cultural or social phenomena.
  • Viewing : Comparatively rare form of representation. Consideration has a fixed place in the forms of representation based on the “Leipzig School” (the journalism course in Leipzig was the only one in the GDR and an entry requirement for the GDR media system). The observation analyzes a (socio) political problem in a longer article with an emphasis on opinion. From the point of view of the GDR media makers, this was necessary; the journalism of the GDR saw itself as a propaganda instrument of the SED . Today, viewing is rarely used as a form of representation; occasionally, viewing is still found in the cultural section of newspapers.
  • Feuilleton : Today no longer a form of presentation, but a section . A feature section is the entire cultural and social section of a newspaper (also known as the Sunday supplement on weekends). Occasionally a small form is still called this today, which is more literary: Little attention is paid to the little things in life that are touched by human beings.


Emil Dovifat initially coined the term journalistic “styles”. To distinguish it, the current German-language journalism after 1945 prefers the term "journalistic forms of representation".

Since the 1950s, professional journalism training has been taking place in the Federal Republic based on the American model . The task here was to define and categorize forms of representation. Walther von La Roche , whose “Introduction to Practical Journalism” described this in 1975 , did pioneering work for Germany . At the same time, in the GDR, a differentiated journalistic genre theory differentiated between informational, analytical and pictorial concrete modes of communication.

Wolf Schneider and Paul Josef Raue expanded the information and expression of opinion to include the entertainment category . A similar scientific definition of the forms of representation can be found in Siegfried Weischenberg ("Hamburger Schule"). After the “Mainz School” (Fischer Lexikon), the third category is the fantasy-based forms such as radio plays and short stories (i.e. literary forms).

The definition by Michael Haller ("Leipziger Schule"), which distinguishes between objective and subjective forms, has proven itself in practice . In contrast, Eckart Klaus Roloff sees the interpretive text genres such as portraits, features, interviews, essays and reports as the third form.

In order to describe the longer information-oriented forms such as interviews, reports and features in terms of structure and narrative attitude, Michael Haller and Christoph Fasel have suggested that they be called “narrative” forms of representation within the informative forms of representation, cf. storytelling too .


The journalistic forms of representation can be found in different forms in the journalistic formats.

Examples are

Pictures, graphics, tables

A picture says more than 1000 words : This old wisdom (also in editorial offices) is still important in the visual age of the flood of images in electronic media. A separate article therefore deals with photojournalism .

Most daily newspapers rely on agency photos for the cover part. Most of the agency photos received are divided into the following categories according to the news factors: celebrities of all kinds, disasters (accidents, weather, earthquakes) and conflicts.

In the local area, most of the photos result from (official) appointments. These are called "shaking pictures" a little mockingly and show z. B. Honors, inaugurations, local political and association-oriented events. Illustrated magazines have always valued good quality images. You employ your own and freelance photographers, who make it possible to bring report photos and entire photo series.

Formal components of a contribution (article)

An informative journalistic article (in print or on websites) usually consists of a headline, a preamble and the actual text (see lead style ).

  • In addition to the actual heading (as headline or main line, usually in bold), the headline can contain a headline and / or a subline that are less visually eye- catching than the actual headline.
  • A preamble or lead often appears in front of the text , often in bold, which summarizes the main message of the article in a few lines. This part is not yet part of the following text, i.e. not its beginning.
  • This is followed by the actual text of the contribution, which is divided into paragraphs and can contain the design elements described above.

In addition, the contribution can contain

  • a source, such as the agency if the message was taken over,
  • a placemark like city. -
  • Author names or abbreviations.

Comments are always identified by name or with a clearly assignable author abbreviation.

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Website with more information on La Roche's Introduction to Practical Journalism