Quick Questions to Consider

Hard news stories

Hard news stories are factual and answer the questions; who, what, where, when, why and how.

Hard news stories are written so that readers get the important information as quickly as possible.

The headline provides a brief summary of the story. Important facts are contained in the lead paragraph(s). Details are presented in descending order of importance in the remaining paragraphs.

Find a hard news story. Read it carefully.

Answer the following questions about your news story.

  • Who is the reporter?

  • What is the source of the story?

  • Other than those mentioned in the story, who does the story affect?

  • How do you think the reporter got the information needed to write the story?

  • Does the reporter tell both sides of the story? How?

  • Do you think the story is fair? Why?

  • Should the reporter do a follow up on the story? Why? Why not?

  • What is the best quote in the story? Why do you think so?

  • On the whole, how would you evaluate this story?

Make a chart like the one below. Complete your chart by showing where the information was found in the story.

Headline Lead Other Paragraphs

Hard News Vs. Soft News

Taken from Media Awareness Network:

Hard News Vs. Soft News

News stories are basically divided into two types: hard news and soft news. Hard new generally refers to up-to-the-minute news and events that are reported immediately, while soft news is background information or human-interest stories.

Politics, war, economics and crime used to be considered hard news, while arts, entertainment and lifestyles were considered soft news.

But increasingly, the lines are beginning to blur. Is a story about the private life of a politician “politics” or “entertainment”? Is an article about the importance of investing early for retirement a “business” story or a “lifestyle” story? Judging solely on subject matter, it can be difficult to tell.

One difference between hard and soft news is the tone of presentation. A hard news story takes a factual approach: What happened? Who was involved? Where and when did it happen? Why?

A soft news story tries instead to entertain or advise the reader. You may have come across newspaper or TV stories that promise “news you can use.” Examples might be tips on how to stretch properly before exercising, or what to look for when buying a new computer.

Knowing the difference between hard and soft news helps you develop a sense of how news is covered, and what sorts of stories different news media tend to publish or broadcast. This can be important when you want to write articles or influence the media yourself.

© 2008 Media Awareness Network