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Reclassifying Soft and Hard News Culture Specific Findings or a Reflection of Gender?
Unformatted Document Text:  expression in media content. Although gender does not necessarily express itself in women’s preference for “soft” issues compared to men’s partiality for “hard” issues, the impact of feminization on the media is grounded in a gender-based otherness, 1 part of which cuts through the conventional classification of “hard” and “soft.” The findings of the present study raise a theoretical issue which has not found expression in an appropriate discussion to date. The classic division of news topics into “hard” and “soft”, the definition of each category and its accompanying gender-based identification, create a rigid dichotomous system which is largely insensitive to evolving reality. The findings of the study reported here contradict, at least ostensibly, previous research findings which pointed to a lack of gender effect on the practice of everyday journalism (Lavie, 1997). The exciting question is this: Should the findings of the present study be taken as markers for the beginning of a process which is destined to undermine the traditional equation of men = “hard” news; women =”soft” news, necessarily generating changes in the media agenda and the manner of its formation? Or, perhaps, on the other hand, these findings reflect the complex, situation and relational character of trends in communications and as such, should not be used to infer the future state of this or other media, either in a local or international context. “Soft” News, “Hard” News - Roots of the distinctions One of the first distinctions in the area of news were reported by the sociologist, Guy Tuchman, in her groundbreaking article “Work Processes in Producing Journalism News” (Tuchman, 1973). Tuchman identified key concepts in the news production process and conceptualized the practice based on the perspectives of professions. She noted, inter alia, 2 the distinction prevalent among professionals between “hard news and stories that interest humans” and between “soft” news which is interesting because it concerns the lives of people (Mott, 1952). Tuchman noted that urgency and actuality are another criterion of this classification, in that “hard” news are typically 1 The currently preferred formulation is to refer to the “otherness” of media products of men and women rather than to differences. 2 Tuchman identified, defined and positioned several key concepts in the field of news production: spot news, developing news, continuing news, pre-scheduled news, unscheduled news, breaking stories and non-scheduled news (Tuchman, 1973).

Authors: Lavie, Aliza.
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expression in media content. Although gender does not necessarily express itself in
women’s preference for “soft” issues compared to men’s partiality for “hard” issues,
the impact of feminization on the media is grounded in a gender-based otherness,
1
part of which cuts through the conventional classification of “hard” and “soft.” The
findings of the present study raise a theoretical issue which has not found expression
in an appropriate discussion to date. The classic division of news topics into “hard”
and “soft”, the definition of each category and its accompanying gender-based
identification, create a rigid dichotomous system which is largely insensitive to
evolving reality.
The findings of the study reported here contradict, at least ostensibly, previous
research findings which pointed to a lack of gender effect on the practice of everyday
journalism (Lavie, 1997).
The exciting question is this: Should the findings of the present study be taken as
markers for the beginning of a process which is destined to undermine the traditional
equation of men = “hard” news; women =”soft” news, necessarily generating changes
in the media agenda and the manner of its formation? Or, perhaps, on the other hand,
these findings reflect the complex, situation and relational character of trends in
communications and as such, should not be used to infer the future state of this or
other media, either in a local or international context.
“Soft” News, “Hard” News - Roots of the distinctions
One of the first distinctions in the area of news were reported by the sociologist, Guy
Tuchman, in her groundbreaking article “Work Processes in Producing Journalism
News” (Tuchman, 1973). Tuchman identified key concepts in the news production
process and conceptualized the practice based on the perspectives of professions. She
noted, inter alia,
2
the distinction prevalent among professionals between “hard news
and stories that interest humans” and between “soft” news which is interesting
because it concerns the lives of people (Mott, 1952). Tuchman noted that urgency and
actuality are another criterion of this classification, in that “hard” news are typically
1
The currently preferred formulation is to refer to the “otherness” of media products of men and
women rather than to differences.
2
Tuchman identified, defined and positioned several key concepts in the field of news production: spot
news, developing news, continuing news, pre-scheduled news, unscheduled news, breaking stories and
non-scheduled news (Tuchman, 1973).


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