Interpretive (or Interpretative) journalism or interpretive reporting requires a journalist to go beyond the basic facts related to an event and provide more in-depth news coverage. Generally, in this reporting has been defines in a broad sense as reporting that explains the significance or meaning of news events, trends, or situations to the readers.
Characteristics of interpretative reports
• Just like straight news stories, interpretative reports are written about important matters which people are eager to know more about– E.g.: symptoms of a new disease, ways of preventing its spread and treatment options available or in the works.
• The interpretative report is not written with the straight-forward approach of straight news. The writer can decide to use a preamble to introduce the subject of the story. For example, a story that explains how kidnapping negotiations are done can start and narrating the experience of a family.
• Interpretative reports are not written with the simplest language possible as straight news stories are. The writers can use slightly elevated and adorned language. Literary devices, like familiar, not obscure, figures of speech, can be used in interpretative reports. The attractive language helps to keep the interest of readers.
• Interpretative reports are not usually as timely as straight news reports.
• Interpretative reporters are not bound to any order of writing unlike straight news writers who use the inverted pyramid.
• The interpretative report is usually lengthy.
Elements of news interpretation
• Explanation of meaning: In covering issues and events, there should be a proper explanation and meaning to it.
• Ranking: Interpretative reports help readers to understand the relative ranking of persons, events, and other things in the news.
• Backgrounding: Interpretative reports help show the history of what they discuss. If someone wins a public office, for instance, their family, education, professional career, and political journey to date would be provided to the public.
• Tracing of preceedence: This involves finding out if the event being reported is the first of its kind and if not, has it happened locally or elsewhere? Also, how regularly has happened?
• Advancing likely causes and effects: One question that rings in the minds of readers of many stories is, “Why?” The straight news story does not often have the correct or full answer because it is too close to the event in time. Further digging helps the interpretative reporter to arrive at more accurate and comprehensive answers.
• Localisation of the story: It is important to readers and to make to be interested in a story by showing the relevance of the issue it is about to their lives.
• Presenting diverse opinions: An important part of any news report is people’s reaction to the issue covered. While straight news stories do include the opinions of sources, interpretative reports contain more of these by virtue of the research process that precedes their writing and the length of the resulting stories.
Submitted by Chitra Murugesan, I MAJMC, 2022.