News Reporting – Understanding the Difference between Hard and Soft news
Even though it is a tough job since all stories fall into more than one category, news stories are mainly classified into two broad categories- Hard News and Soft News.
Hard news refers to the news stories that have an big impact at the society as a whole and need to be reported urgently. They are factual stories with data, concerning events that are potentially available to analysis. Examples include news on politics, crime, economics, international affairs, natural calamities, riots etc.
Soft news on the other hand refers to the stories that provide other background information about world events, human interest stories or entertainment news. Since these do not deal with serious subjects, they are labelled as “soft”. Examples include sports news, celebrity news, or human interest stories that deal with emotions.
The writing styles for both of these differ significantly, as the hard news stories are supposed to be strictly objective- the journalist need not give his or her opinion on the story, but should provide facts as they are. The hard news stories also ideally follow the Inverted Pyramid structure of writing.
Soft stories can be, and are editorialised. They can be subjective, and do not follow the Inverted Pyramid.
This distinction is not straightjacket; sometimes it becomes very difficult to distinguish between the two. For example, where do we classify a story done on the personal lives of politicians?
Another key difference is about the deadlines provided to the journalists. A reporter covering a hard news story is given a much tighter deadline, owing to the urgency of the coverage. Soft news can also be a timeless feature- for example an article on “The Benefits of Chocolate”, “Tips To Loose Weight”, etc. can be published at any given point of time. The writing style here is much more flexible.