What is News?

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There are two main types of news that we come across in newspapers, online and on TV today. A good portion of the news is hard news, which includes facts that answer who, what, where, when, why, and how, of a news event. There is also soft news, which is better known as a feature story, news feature, or profile.

Hard news stories tend to just give the main information that the public needs to know about an event. There is no fluff, opinion or narrative aspect. A good example that has been discussed in the news recently is this article from Buzzfeed that informs about the teen that was stowed away inside the landing gear of a plane, all the way from California to Hawaii, which is a 5-hour flight. Notice how the article is short and sweet, it gets to the point without giving too many unimportant details. The one and only quote really sheds light on how dangerous and newsworthy this particular piece of news is. 

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While hard news is very informative and easy to read, feature stories are usually more fun by incorporating a topic of human interest into its story. Because it does not necessarily have to be news, it is often called a “Hey Martha” story. Just imagine a husband and wife sitting around the kitchen table on a Sunday morning reading the newspaper. The husband sees this Time article, titled “Beyond Death: The Science of the Afterlife” and finds it interesting, so he says, “Hey Martha, check this out.” Another example of a soft news story seen in the mass media today is this article from CNN talking about Justin Bieber’s recent problems with the law in the US. 

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Is isn’t really possible to do a hard news type story on a soft news topic because soft news isn’t really news at all. Of course, you should still answer the questions: who, what, where, when, why and how. But it would not be interesting without a cool topic, narrative, or a lot of detail and information. Similarly, you cannot really write a soft news story on a hard news topic because it would be too lengthy, making it harder for readers to sift through all the unnecessary fluff to find the most important parts. The distinction between hard and soft news is important and really impacts how we receive news today.

 

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