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Interpretive Journalism

Brant Houston


Interpretive (or interpretative) journalism goes beyond the basic facts of an event or topic to provide context, analysis, and possible consequences. Interpretive journalists must have unusual familiarity with and understanding of a subject, and their work involves looking for patterns, motives, and influences that explain what they are reporting ( Keller 1997 ). For 150 years, interpretive journalism has waxed and waned, but levels of interpretation have generally risen since the beginning of the twentieth century, at least in US journalism ( Barnhurst & Mutz 1997 ; →  Journalism, History of ). In other countries where news work developed primarily as a literary occupation, interpretation began and remained at the forefront. In Latin America, southern Europe, Africa, and elsewhere, the main content occupying key positions in newspapers, for example, is always interpretive rather than straight →  news , which journalists in these regions consider mere chronicles. Interpretive journalism overlaps with other forms of reporting (→  Investigative Reporting ; Advocacy Journalism ), in which journalists themselves, after interviews and reviews of documents and data, assert who committed wrong or what caused failure. As in explanatory or narrative journalism (→  Narrative News Story ), reporters make judgments regarding the most reliable sources and most trustworthy information. Newspapers ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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