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Hard and Soft News – A Twofold Approximation to a Key Concept in Journalism Research

  • The concept of hard and soft news (HSN) is regarded as one of the most important concepts in journalism research. Despites this popularity, two major research voids can be assigned to the concept. First, it lacks conceptual clarity: the concept gets used interchangeably with related concepts such as sensationalism, which has led to fuzzy demarcations of HSN. Also, it is still not agreed on of which dimensions the concept in composed. Second, little is known about the factors that influence the production of news in terms of their hard or soft nature. The present disserta-tion casts a twofold glance on the HSN concept – it aims to assess the conceptual status of the concept and production of hard and soft news. At the outset, this dissertation delineates the theoretical base for three manuscripts in total and presented considerations on concepts in social sciences in general and hard and soft news in particular as well as the production of news, particularly of hard and soft news. The first paper proposed a theoretical frame-work model to distinguish HSN and related concepts. Based on a literature review of in total five concepts, this model suggested a hierarchy in which these concepts can be discerned according to their occurrence in media content. The second pa-per focused on the inner coherence of the HSN concept in its most recent academ-ic understanding. The results of a factorial survey with German newspaper jour-nalists showed that, indeed, four out of five dimensions of the HSN concept com-prised what the journalists understood by it. Hence, the most recent academic un-derstanding is to a great extent coherent. The third study shed light on the produc-tion of HSN, focusing on the influence of individual journalists’ and audience’s characteristics on whether news was presented in hard or soft way. The findings of a survey with simulated decision scenarios among German print journalists showed that the HSN dimensions were susceptible to different journalistic influ-ences and that a perceived politically uninterested audience led to a softer cover-age. The dissertation concluded with connecting these findings with the considera-tions on concept evaluation and the production of news. Implications for research on and with the concept of HSN were presented, before concluding with limitations and suggestions for future research.

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Author:Isabella Glogger
Advisor:Michaela Maier, Christian von Sikorski
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2018/10/15
Date of publication:2018/10/15
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Fachbereich 8
Date of final exam:2018/09/25
Release Date:2018/10/15
Hard and Soft News
Number of pages:189 Seiten
Institutes:Fachbereich 8 / Institut für Kommunikationspsychologie und Medienpädagogik
BKL-Classification:05 Kommunikationswissenschaft / 05.00 Kommunikationswissenschaft: Allgemeines
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG