Codes and Conventions of
In this PowerPoint I will be writing about the 5 different codes and
conventions of factual programming. I am hoping to show how the different
codes and conventions inform or determine audience response.
Expository documentary are the type of documentaries that will expose a person or a
In order to expose something the main conventions used in this type of documentaries are
a commentator, rhetorical questions, facts, opinions and persuasive techniques.
As the main objective of an expository documentary is to expose and inform things to
their audience the documentaries will mainly use a male sonorous voice as a
commentator, the commentator will speak specifically to the audience by asking rhetorical
questions and speaking in third person. The documentary will also include things such as
footage, interviews or pictures that are “exclusive” to the documentary.
Expository documentaries are usually historical and biographical, this works with their aim
to inform and expose information for their viewers because they are educating their
viewers something that perhaps hasn’t already known.
These documentaries are often seen as controversial because they can be very
opinionated, provide false evidence and can be edited to suit a certain purpose.
An example of an expository documentary would be Killer Coke. Killer Coke is a documentary
about exposing the truth with Coca-Cola. In the documentary it shows Coca-Cola cooperating
with paramilitaries in Columbia to execute workers in their own bottling plants that are trying to
form unions and trying to demand better working conditions.
An Expository documentary follows the codes and conventions of an expository documentary
because the narrator aims to expose the truth by using rhetorical straight to the point questions
to get to the truth and has a male sonorous voice.
This also includes thing such as short interviews with workers and this adds credibility to the
documentary which makes the audience more likely to believe what is being said.
Find a link to an example of an expository documentary here
Expository Documentary: Mark Thomas on
As the name suggests an observational documentary just
observes and tries to capture life in its natural form. These types
of documentaries are approached using a “fly on the wall”
approach. The filmmaker remains hidden, ignored by the
surrounding environment, no actions or events are is influenced
for the camera this is done so that the footage looks raw and as if
it just happened.
This is made possible by using lightweight cameras with portable
sound recording equipment for synchronized sound. They often
use a light voiceover that explains what is going on. This type of
documentary aims for immediacy, intimacy and shows the
human character in ordinary life situations.
Observational documentaries are edited in a way that
emphasizes the main parts of a show in order to make it visually
interesting for the viewer.
An example of an observational documentary is Goggle-box, I know this because the
producers of Goggle-box have aimed to make a documentary about people watching
TV expressing their opinion on whatever they are watching. They do this by putting a
camera beside the TV in the person’s living room so that we are seeing them in their
natural environment and comfort zone where we are able to see their opinion on
whatever was on TV that week.
Watch an episode of Goggle-box here
A participatory documentary is where the filmmaker is actively engaged with the situation that they are
documenting. In this type of documentary the filmmaker is usually gets involved by being the
interviewer in the film and asking the subject about something that is part of their life, the interviewer
will asks very open questions which would have to be answered fully and informally. This is heavily
reliant on the honesty of witnesses.
The filmmaker records the documentary displaying the interaction between them and the subject, by
being involved in the documentary the filmmaker will gain more experience which’ll help the audience
understand the documentary. Because the filmmaker is a huge part of the documentary the audience
will be able to see how the experience has changed the filmmaker. These interviews tend to be informal
with an ‘on the run’ questioning.
For these types of documentaries they use archive materials such as stills, news footage, newspaper
headlines and letters.
A hand held camera is often used to record a participatory documentary and this is so that the camera is
not hard to carry on a day to day basis, so the footage can be a little shaky or in bad quality.
An example of a participatory documentary would be Catfish, this is a good example because Nev
and Max (the filmmakers) are fully involved and are seen interviewing the both the subjects.
Catfish is all about online dating and what the filmmakers do is get the two people dating to try
and meet each other, in order to do this Nev and Max have to ask open questions about the
person’s personal life, which has to be answered fully.
Despite the fact that a camera crew follows them, Max still holds a hand held camera so he is
able to document where the film crew aren’t allowed.
You can watch the video here
The reflexive style of documentary is usually associated with
education and experimental documentaries, where the viewer
is interested in the content as well as how the film is constructed.
Most reflexive documentaries are associated with education
because the film maker goes around the world to inform, expose
or educate the viewers on a new topic.
In a reflexive documentary the film maker is involved and shows this by being in front
of the camera at all times and by sometimes narrating the documentary. By doing this
they are engaging their audience and putting emphasis the fact the reflexive
documentaries are between film maker and viewer rather than film maker and the
A good example of a film maker who makes reflexive documentaries would be Louis Theroux, he
is a good example because he is always in front of the camera and is the occasional interviewer,
he also takes part in some of the activities he Is documenting so that he and his viewers can get
an inside look.
This is Louis Theroux documentary is aiming to educate viewers and expose the truth about the
effects of giving children with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder medication. It is a good
example of reflexive documentary because it clearly shows Louis Theroux in front of the camera
and occasionally interviewing the family.
Find the documentary here
A performative documentary is where the filmmaker gets involved in the documentary by
being the main subject and also telling the audience the truth on the subject. It is often
This type of documentary is often done by a celebrity experimenting with something and
seeing the audiences reaction. This allows the audience and filmmaker to learn about new
things because the filmmaker is experiencing the topic for themselves.
Performative documentary sets out to demonstrate how personal experience can provide
emotional responsiveness us that acknowledges the understanding of the event, rather
than asking the audience to gain or learn something from it.
A good example of a performative documentary is Sports Relief. This is a good example
because the aim of sports relief is to persuade the audience to raise money for people less
Sports relief do this by showing clips of people less fortunate in order to trigger an emotion
and get a reaction that’ll get people talking on platforms such as social media.
Sports relief is a charity event from comic relief which bring sports and entertainment to
help vulnerable people in the UK and the world’s poorest countries.
You can watch a clip of Sports relief here
What are the Codes and Conventions a
news bulletins ?
When it comes to news there are many different codes and conventions that helps makes a
successful news programme.
When we watch the news of TV there are typical things that we commonly see, such as the
newsreaders. The newsreaders are often male or female and sometimes they will present
the news together looking directly at the camera and addressing the audience. There is also
a typical set displayed on a news programme which includes a large desk that the
newsreaders sit behind or a sofa the presenter sit on with guests.
What is the role of a News Reader?
On a news programme the news readers have a role to undertake which doesn’t just
include reading the news, their tasks include:
• They interview guests whether its in the studio or in a different location.
• Researching everything they’re presenting so that they are aware of every detail they
are informing the audience and making sure that they have the correct information.
• They edit the stories from the reporters and the script to suit them as they are most
likely to report news easier if they understand it.
• They write news bulletins.
Role of the News Reader – Skills
In order to successfully become a news reader and present news there are certain skills and
attributes that you need to have. These skills are important because they will engage the
audience and keep them coming back, they will also give the news programme a good
reputation because in time the news readers become the “face” of the news programme
and be recognised by thousands of viewers. The skills/attributes needed include:
• Fast thinking
• Have a clear voice
• Need to be focused
• Emotionally distanced – so that they don't become emotionally attached to a story or
• Understanding of legal and ethical law.
• Editorial knowledge
What does a News Reader look like?
Her hair is a natural colour
which has been cut and
What does a News Reader look like
Hair has been
cut and styled
Suit is clean and
Tie goes very