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Soft News

Hyun Ban


The nature of news content has changed during the past decades due to the changes in media environment. As new media such as cable television, satellite television, and the Internet have appeared, the news media market has become more competitive than ever and news contents have tended to be more audience-oriented and softer. The problem is that soft news is not only “weakening the foundation of democracy by diminishing the public's information about public affairs and its interest in politics” but also “has increased dramatically as a proportion of news coverage” ( Patterson 2000 , 2). The definition of soft news varies, but one of its common characterizations is “all the news that is not hard news”( Davis 1996 , 108–109). Hard news may then be defined by coverage of breaking events involving top leaders, major issues, or significant disruptions in the routines of daily life, such as an earthquake or airline disaster ( Smith 1985 ). One difference between hard and soft news is the tone of presentation. While a hard news story tells its audience the facts regarding what happens and leaves it up to the audience to decide what to do with the information, a soft news story tries instead to entertain or advise the reader. For instance, newspaper or TV stories may promise “news you can use.” Examples might be tips on how to stretch properly before exercising, or what to look for when ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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