Hard and soft news
Recent surveys of American journalists highlight a growing uneasiness regarding professional roles and quality standards. Similar concerns are also reflected in the data of a recent survey of leading Austrian political journalists. To find out whether the quality standards actually changed and how American journalists as well as—from a comparative perspective—Austrian political journalists evaluate the quality development of journalism, explorative interviews were conducted with thirty-one leading American print journalists, and assessments were compared with the patterns found in a recent survey of Austrian political journalists. Comparing the results of the American and Austrian studies, striking similarities were found. The convergence of problems as seen by journalists operating in fundamentally different media systems and communication cultures seems to confirm a kind of “homogenization” of journalistic cultures—beyond divergent institutional and market constraints within given media systems. Some of the demonstrated findings seem to point out that not only are market pressures and hypercommercialization responsible for the quality problems of political journalism but also that the quality of interaction between journalists and politicians has changed substantially. This in turn had direct effects upon the quality of reporting.