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factual genres


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1. In writing, this includes certain rhetorical modes of discourse (exposition, description, and argument), and particular forms such as reports, interviews, surveys, biographies, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, academic monographs, and textbooks. The organization of public libraries suggests that the distinction between fiction and non-fiction is one of the most fundamental contemporary written genre distinctions—a categorization which highlights the importance of modality judgements. However, even such an apparently basic distinction is revealed to be far from straightforward as soon as one tries to apply it to the books on one's own shelves.

2. In television, factual genres include news reports, current affairs programmes, documentaries, public ‘events’ coverage, sports and leisure programmes, consumer programmes, and specialist programmes (history, religion, and so on). Even within genres acknowledged as factual (such as news reports and documentaries) ‘stories’ are told—the purposes of factual genres in the mass media include entertaining as well as informing. Genre labels in the television industry are highly fluid (see also television genres). In the UK at present the term popular factual television commonly includes such forms as celebrity profiles and entertaining documentaries. Sometimes the term factual entertainment is employed in relation to hybrid genres such as docudrama (a form of faction). Reality TV is variously classed as popular factual television and sometimes as factual entertainment. See also fiction values; hybrid genre; story model; tabloidization.

Subjects: Media Studies.


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