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Reclassifying “Soft” and “Hard” News – Culture Specific Findings or a Reflection of Gender?
Unformatted Document Text:  complete in their spare time. The questionnaire was distributed to all the female and male editors who participated in the study. Responses were anonymous. Questions were designed to provide a picture of the attitudes and perceptions of editors. Subjects were requested to address various aspects of providing information and news. 5 Subjects were also requested to rank several topics by their newsworthiness in the eyes of the audience (as perceived by the editors). 6 Yet another question aimed to tap into the professional criteria which shape the determinations of newsworthiness of events. In addition, forty in-depth interviews were conducted with subjects in this group. 2. The Programs – a sample of 181 programs (news magazines and current affairs programs) which were broadcast on the air between 1988-1999. In practice, each program was sampled periodically, every two-three years in 1988, 1990, 1993, 1996 and 1997/8. To prevent a possible bias in the case of irregular events, a preliminary exploration ensured that the sampling periods were routine periods in terms of media practice. A content analysis of the programs was designed to explore how topics were defined, classified, defined and ascribed importance in terms of newsworthiness as well as questions of how various topics were addressed by the radio. A specific coding scheme was developed to support the content analysis and provide information on how editors’ gender impacted the nature of each news program, the news agenda and the ascribed category of the topic (“hard”, “soft”). Statistical data processing employed the SPSS social science package and included uni-variable analyses, which generated distribution tables and variable averages; T- 5 Questions were formulated as follows: In fulfilling your role, how important are the following topics: a) rapid transmission of information to the public; b) providing interpretations/analysis of complex issues c) providing information on topics of entertainment and leisure; d) tracking government statements; e) investigation of crimes; f) satisfy intellectual needs; g) women’s rights; h) express skepticism regarding government and public decisions; i) express skepticism regarding private business decisions; j) raise issue on the agenda; k) the ability to enable the common man to express his or her opinion. In complying this list, reliance was made on the study of Weaver and Wilhoit (1996), a leading field study, with the necessary adaptations and modifications. 6 The question posed was: In your opinion, on a routine day, how important is it for your listeners to hear about the following issues in news magazines and current affairs programs (assuming a newsworthy item in the area)? 1) fashion and design; 2)environmental issues; 3) security; 4) entertainment and culture; 5) religion; 6) social issues (education, health, poverty, minorities); 7) international news including global financial news (other countries); 8) Israeli foreign policy; 9) Israeli economics; 10) science and technology; 11) sports; 12) domestic politics (parties, Knesset, government); 13) crime and the legal system; 14) the advancement of women; 15) local governments; 16) the peace process; 17) transportation and infrastructure.

Authors: Lavie, Aliza.
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complete in their spare time. The questionnaire was distributed to all the female and
male editors who participated in the study. Responses were anonymous.
Questions were designed to provide a picture of the attitudes and perceptions of
editors. Subjects were requested to address various aspects of providing information
and news.
5
Subjects were also requested to rank several topics by their
newsworthiness in the eyes of the audience (as perceived by the editors).
6
Yet another
question aimed to tap into the professional criteria which shape the determinations of
newsworthiness of events.
In addition, forty in-depth interviews were conducted with subjects in this group.
2. The Programs – a sample of 181 programs (news magazines and current affairs
programs) which were broadcast on the air between 1988-1999. In practice, each
program was sampled periodically, every two-three years in 1988, 1990, 1993, 1996
and 1997/8. To prevent a possible bias in the case of irregular events, a preliminary
exploration ensured that the sampling periods were routine periods in terms of media
practice.
A content analysis of the programs was designed to explore how topics were defined,
classified, defined and ascribed importance in terms of newsworthiness as well as
questions of how various topics were addressed by the radio. A specific coding
scheme was developed to support the content analysis and provide information on
how editors’ gender impacted the nature of each news program, the news agenda and
the ascribed category of the topic (“hard”, “soft”).
Statistical data processing employed the SPSS social science package and included
uni-variable analyses, which generated distribution tables and variable averages; T-
5
Questions were formulated as follows: In fulfilling your role, how important are the following topics:
a) rapid transmission of information to the public; b) providing interpretations/analysis of complex
issues c) providing information on topics of entertainment and leisure; d) tracking government
statements; e) investigation of crimes; f) satisfy intellectual needs; g) women’s rights; h) express
skepticism regarding government and public decisions; i) express skepticism regarding private business
decisions; j) raise issue on the agenda; k) the ability to enable the common man to express his or her
opinion. In complying this list, reliance was made on the study of Weaver and Wilhoit (1996), a
leading field study, with the necessary adaptations and modifications.
6
The question posed was: In your opinion, on a routine day, how important is it for your listeners to
hear about the following issues in news magazines and current affairs programs (assuming a
newsworthy item in the area)? 1) fashion and design; 2)environmental issues; 3) security; 4)
entertainment and culture; 5) religion; 6) social issues (education, health, poverty, minorities); 7)
international news including global financial news (other countries); 8) Israeli foreign policy; 9) Israeli
economics; 10) science and technology; 11) sports; 12) domestic politics (parties, Knesset,
government); 13) crime and the legal system; 14) the advancement of women; 15) local governments;
16) the peace process; 17) transportation and infrastructure.


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