soft news reporting

In contrast to hard investigative reporting came a simultaneous trend toward soft news. This includes consumer-help stories, lifestyle tips, entertainment news, and offbeat stories of interest, often of a sensational sort. The celebrity-oriented National Enquirer whose circulation skyrocketed in the 1960s, was the progenitor of the trend. Time-Life launched People magazine, which was more respectable than the National Enquirer but still focused on celebrity news, such as who was recently married, who broke up, and which trendy restaurants host the most movie stars. Newspaper research found that readers like soft stuff. Soon many dailies added “People” columns. The television show TMZ focuses on glamour and glitz, usually as a lead-in to the evening news on many local stations. The show was an outgrowth of the original operation,, a news website for celebrity gossip. Traditionalists decry the space that soft news takes in many news products today, but hard news does remain part of the product mix in traditional media.

Some of the public appetite for soft news is being met by websites and Twitter and Facebook and also by apps for smartphones that aggregate news based on interest category.

Writing Prompt Applying Your Media Literacy – Journalism Trends

Nonstop news coverage is well-established. What impact does it have on the way news is reported?
The response entered here will appear in the performance dashboard and can be viewed by your instructor.


Summary: News The job of a journalist isn’t just to write stories, but to determine what the public will find interesting and important enough to read and watch. In other words, news is a report on change that journalists deem most worthy of their audience’s attention. What makes one story newsworthy and another not is influenced by a range of dynamics, including consumer interest, what is going on in the world at the moment, as well as what is currently trending. The life of a story tends to be rather short, particularly in the era of the “24/7” news cycle. The challenge of journalists is to balance the need to get stories to the public quickly, while not compromising ethical standards and the need to fully investigate important stories.

6.1 Concept of News In the United States, there is a high premium on a detached, neutral presentation in which reporters keep their presence as much in the background as they can. The emphasis generally is on the story, not the storyteller, even though the reporter’s role in seeking and organizing stories requires judgments that are subjective and flow from personal values.

6.2 Bennett News Model Modern news practices draw heavily on values identified by James Gordon Bennett after founding the New York Herald in 1835. Bennett emphasized fact-based reporting, which remains the heart of news. The Bennett Model, however, proved simplistic with complex subjects in which plain facts can be misleading. The Bennett Model has since been refined in recognition of the fact that there can be distinctions between facts and truth.

6.3 Rethinking News Models News media have proliferated with the cable television and the Internet. Almost anybody can blog—no journalism degree needed. In this new media universe, mainstream news organizations have struggled to adapt. The Internet is loaded with

ideologically slanted reports, particularly during election seasons. The New York Times and other traditional news sources are struggling to develop a new model for news, a hybrid, to remain commercially viable.

6.4 Values That Shape News Since news cannot be free of values, the question is what values do journalists bring to their work? Values include those that prevail in society. In the United States, these include broad values often taken for granted, like family, education, and health. Other values that flavor American journalism include a national ethnocentrism, a commitment to democracy and capitalism, a favoring of individualism tempered by moderation, and a commitment to social order. Practical matters also shape much of what appears in the news. These include news hole and the resources available for news-gathering.

6.5 Variables Affecting News Accuracy is a core element in news as a nonfiction literary form. Accuracy is relatively easy to measure, compared to essential elements of judgment in news. The complexity of judgment is no better illustrated than in the gatekeeping process involved in journalism, with stories being processed by many hands—moving from reporter to delivery to an audience. Judgment also is a factor in deciding what most merits coverage.

6.6 Journalism Trends Journalism is going in many directions. Lengthily treated, typical television network documentaries are long-form journalism—labor-intensive to produce but often with breakthrough revelations. At another extreme are snippets sometimes only a couple lines long that are packaged in radio newscasts. The advent of 24/7 news on television and the web has stretched the resources of many newsrooms. With a limited number of reporters being asked to repackage stories for multiple outlets, there has been a shift to stories that are quicker to report. The result: a decline in significant enterprise reporting that takes major commitments of newsroom time and resources.

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