Reinemann, Carsten; Stanyer, James; Scherr, Sebastian; Legnante, Guido
Hard and soft news: A review of concepts, operationalizations and key findings.
In: Journalism, Vol. 13, No. 2: pp. 221-239
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.