Genre 6: Business or Market Report

Academic literature on the genre of the business/market report is rare. However, a number of the BP texts are of this type, and I set out here some observations based on the texts themselves. Business or market reports can be of rather different kinds, ranging from those texts that are similar to news reports but aimed specifically at the business community and characterised by markers of objectivity, to texts that serve to synthesise information and arrive at an evaluative conclusion, to other texts that serve a more argumentative or persuasive purpose (e.g. business journal articles that may partially serve a selling function). Because of this, the genre of business or market reports may be better viewed as a collection of texts with a unified audience, but which have stylistic features of other news genres. The complete text below resembles a news report, although it appears specifically on the business pages:

MIAMI—Carnival Corp., operator of Carnival Cruise Lines, is seeking compensation for damages and losses it incurred as a result of last April’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that caused a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to The Miami Herald. The Miami-based cruise line filed suit against BP Plc. and several other companies related to the oil rig’s operations. (Palm Beach Post [Florida], 27.4.2011)

Although the term “major oil spill” is somewhat negatively evaluative, the lexis is generally neutral, and some of the terms (“compensation”, “damages and losses”, “filed suit”) are drawn from a legal technical register. There are no modal items, and statements are expressed as unmitigated declaratives. These are all features that, as in news reports, convey an impression of factual objectivity. The following text is rather different in terms of grammatical choices, and belongs to the second type of business report I mentioned above, of synthesis and evaluation.

The situation may be further complicated by the approaching election in Russia, since a huge payment to the AAR billionaires for what used to be state assets is not something the incumbent administration will want to defend as it works to win support and secure another term in office. A more modest settlement would suit BP, too, given its commitments in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster. (European Gas Markets, 27.4.2011)

This text is rich in modal expressions (“may be”, “will want to”, “would suit”), where, importantly, the writer is taking modal responsibility. The lexis in this text is more evaluative (“complicated”, “huge”, “disaster”), as the writer interprets, evaluates and directs the reader. The piece resembles an opinion piece. The final example below is of the third type, which seeks ostensibly to inform, but also contains elements of persuasive language.

Whatever the reason, responsible companies and thoughtful boards must realize that no business, no matter how well-managed or low-profile, is immune from a crisis. When it comes, it might not be as damaging and public as BP’s or Toyota’s, but that does not mean it can’t cause damage. (Executive Counsel, 27.4.2011)

A number of features, such as the deontic expression “must realise” and lexis with high affect such as “damaging and public”, indicate an overt involvement by the writer that tends to be avoided in hard news reports. Familiar or conversational language is shown in the contraction “can’t”, and rhetorical (persuasive) constructions appear in the repetition in “no business, no matter how well-managed or low-profile”, and the argument structure of “it might not be.. .but that does not mean”. This text has the indirect purpose of selling consultancy services.

So, while some of the business or market reports do the work of a news report in updating the business community on the latest events in the BP story from a business perspective, the majority are doing the work of evaluative or opinion pieces that serve to place the events into other business contexts, such as the BP-Rosneft share swap deal in the second example above, and the BP events as signifier of a business crisis in the third example.

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