The ‘rise and fall’ of a genre: The generic and rhetorical renditions of a Runyankore-Rukiga editorial

Keywords: Editorial, genre analysis, generic structure, rhetorical strategies, Runyankore-Rukiga, argumentation


This article explores the discursive practice of editorial writing in Runyankore-Rukiga print media. It also explicates the generic structure of Runyankore-Rukiga editorial text and the rhetorical devices that the editorial writers have invoked to comment on issues that affect society across different times of history. Using genre analysis, the article analyses a diachronic corpus of editorial texts across Ugandan local newspapers from 1955 to 2010. The article demonstrates that while the construction of a Runyankore-Rukiga editorial appears to conform to the architectural structure of an English editorial (Ansary and Babaii 2005), it does not adhere to its rhetorical moves and the attendant argumentation principles that govern the construction of an editorial text. During the early years (1960s) and throughout the 1970s of Runyankore newspaper writing, the editorial text was a significant genre often appearing on the front page and largely characterized by rhetorical moves consisting in religious and biblical propositions. The editorialists have occasionally employed proverbs to premise or reinforce their arguments, but also to bring humour to the text. The contemporary editorial text also exemplifies use of conversational language, a discursive style that appears to identify with and endear it to putative readers. While the genre has been in constant flux, Runyankore-Rukiga print media outlets have discontinued editorial writing because of commercial reasons and apprehension concerning the consequences of articulating issues that disfavour policies and undertakings of a coercive government. The article reiterates the significance of editorial writing in newspaper discourse and advocates continued articulation of other non-political issues that do not necessarily endanger print media praxis.