Three letters appear in the sample in 2011, with a further one in 2012. These are sent from both those in the public eye (e.g. by the Florida Attorney General), with the purpose of publicising engagement with the crisis, and members of the general public, challenging politicians about their response to the crisis, and in 2012 addressing the continued effect on sealife of the spill.

Business or Market Reports

Business or market reports have in common that they represent events from the sole perspective of their effect on the business world. They can be argued as a genre, in Bhatia’s terms, as they have purpose and audience in common, yet stylistically they can be rather different. They can range from somewhat resembling news reports to offering summaries, evaluation and commentary on diverse business-related events. Business reports account for only 1% of the texts in 2010 but increase to 12% and 13% in 2011 and 2012, as writers are able to gain better insight with time into the implications of the BP events for the oil and gas industry as well as for wider business practice. Examples in this data set are a web piece on petrol price rises (Theflyonthewall.com, 27.4.2011), a report on offshore drilling (Greenwire, 27.4.2011) and a report in Campaign on “Building brands through behaviour” (Campaign Middle East, 27.4.2012).

In Summary: The Importance of Genre

I suggested earlier that an understanding of media genres is central to any work which seeks to identify meaningful patterns across a widely varied data set. It was important to understand which of the language features I examined were generally characteristic of the media genre under study, and which were characteristic of writing about crisis events, or indeed the BP crisis in particular. However, I return to my earlier point that the choice of genre has semiotic meaning in itself. If the BP events are described in a way that is typical of a particular genre, then this is a crucial part of how meaning is made by journalists and received by readers. In this way, the shift of the genres and sub-genres within which the story is located is as important as the individual expressions or structures used to describe the BP events.

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