Hard and soft news definition
Over 30 years, a large body of research on what is often called ‘hard’ and ‘soft news’ has accumulated in communication studies. However, there is no consensus about what hard and soft news exactly is, or how it should be defined or measured. Moreover, the concept has not been clearly differentiated from or systematically related to concepts addressing very similar phenomena – tabloidization and ‘infotainment’. Consequently, the results of various studies are hard to compare and different scientific discourses on related issues remain unconnected. Against this backdrop, this article offers a conceptual analysis of the concept based on studies in English and other languages. We identify key dimensions of the concept and make suggestions for a standardized definition and multi-dimensional measurement of harder and softer news. In doing so, we propose to distinguish thematic, focus and style features as basic dimensions that – in their combination – make up harder and softer types of news.
- Carsten Reinemann is a Professor of Political Communication at the Department of Communication Science and Media Research, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany.
- James Stanyer is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication Studies at the Department of Social Sciences, University of Loughborough, UK.
- Sebastian Scherr is a Research Assistant at the Department of Communication Science and Media Research, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany.
- Guido Legnante is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the Department of Political and Social Studies at the University of Pavia, Italy.
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