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GretchenTurner
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Introduction Examples Exercises
Many people are familiar with the term essay as a term and as a text type from their mother tongue lessons. There, the essay is often defined as a reflective text. Although there is no set, unambiguous definition of the essay as a type of journalistic story, it is possible to approach the journalistic essay through a definition familiar from school.

In an essay, the journalist’s own voice is very much present. In an essay, the writer presents and justifies his or her own views, i.e. reflects. The language of the essay can be inspired by fiction and can be very personal. It is language and reflection that distinguish the essay from analysis. At its best, the essay assistant combines fictional values with the ability to make complexity, different perspectives and contradictions visible.

Because the essay is very much in the voice of the journalist, it is also linked to a phenomenon known as the personal branding of journalists. This refers to a situation where the public comes to recognise a journalist and his or her way of writing and wants texts from that particular journalist.

The essay requires expertise
An essay can be about anything. It can be a commentary on a topical issue or it can be very timeless. It is often a personal essay, where the author writes about his or her own experiences and ideas, but ties them into a broader context. Because of the reflective nature of the essay, the essay is often a long text, so that the editor can open up different reflections, perspectives and lines of thought to the reader as much as possible.

The essay is often personal. In it, the writer relates his or her own experiences to a wider context.
The essay always requires the author to have something to say on the subject. This does not mean, however, that it is enough to list one’s own opinions. You must be able to justify your own views, and the essay often refers to external sources such as literature or other authors. The editor may conduct background interviews for the essay, but direct quotes are less common.

The essay has a long tradition in journalism in the United States. In Finland, essays have become more common in journalism in recent years. The essay can be written by the media’s own journalist, a freelance journalist or an outside expert. Writers, for example, often write essays for journalistic publications.

There are several ways to write an essay
So-called personal essays have become more common in recent years, in which journalists use their own experiences to address a larger phenomenon. This type of essay is particularly popular on family, relationship and work-related topics, which are also popular online. Personal essays, on the other hand, have been criticised for not always broadening the scope of the topic they deal with.

An essay does not always have to be a text. Some descriptive essays are also published. Whereas a photo essay buy a narrative essay focuses on a particular place or situation, a photo essay deals with a subject or phenomenon. For example, photographer Sakari Piippo, who won a prize in the Kuvajournalismi competition, has dealt with Finland’s political system in his photo essay by photographing not only members of parliament, but also municipal councils and polling stations, among other things.

The textual essay often includes a picture of the journalist, just as in columns and analyses. The essay may also be illustrated with a photograph, a drawing or a combination of the two, depending on the essay and the medium.

 

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