How do you like your local news – hard or soft?
A lot of people think that news is news. But do you know the difference between public interest journalism (or hard news) and journalism of record (soft news)?
But here’s some notes on what the difference is between the two types of news, how to spot the difference and why it matters.
Hard news or public interest news is where the question “why?” is addressed and answered. It takes longer to research and write hard news because it involves gathering facts and different points of view. It also involves digging in order to get information that sometimes people, or organisations don’t want to share. In fact, one famous quote defines “real” news as something that someone, somewhere does not want published, with all other types of news actually being marketing.
Hard news can and does ruffle feathers, but the job of a journalist is to hold power to account and speak truth to power.
On the other hand, journalism of record, as the name suggests, simply records what has happened without asking “why?” This type of news often relies on media releases and public relations people. It’s cheaper to produce and removes the risk of annoying advertisers or attracting a legal challenge from lawyers acting for those in power.
In New Zealand there’s only about 1,600 journalists left, now outnumbered eight to one by public relations and communications people. Less than ten years ago there were three times as many journalists here, and fewer PR people.
That’s why Crux feels so strongly about delivering strong local news that asks “why?” We also believe there is a vast amount of useful information that is “soft news” but is nevertheless interesting and important to the community. That’s why we launched the Crux Community Bulletin.
So please do start to ask yourself the question – am I reading real, original news or something actually written by a PR or marketing person that a journalist has simply re-packaged? The Crux Community Bulletin delivers great, relevant moderated soft news and Crux news delivers the hard stuff.
The difference is easy to spot. Does the news story help you understand why a situation has arisen – or simply say it has happened?
If you support what Crux is doing in the community, please become a Crux member so that we can carry on this important work that introduces genuine balance into the systems that govern our lives – challenging power with truth.