chapter  6
News reporting: beyond the five Ws
Pages 19

For the purpose of simplicity, let us say that hard news is the reporting of issuesor events in the past or about to happen. It is largely based on selected detailsand quotations in direct or indirect speech. Hard news begins with the most striking details and thereafter information progressively declines in importance. Some background details may be needed to make the news intelligible but description, analysis, comment and the subjective ‘I’ of the reporter are either excluded or included only briefly. Hard news has the highest status in newspapers and tends to fill front pages. But Anne Sebba (Allan 1999: 130) is critical of the emphasis on hard news. ‘Writing about numbers of planes shot down and military hardware is the “soft” option male journalists often go for because it is easier and less taxing to one’s emotional being.’ Hard news differs from a range of newspaper genres which have emerged over the last couple of centuries (see Pöttker 2003) which include the following:

• Soft news: the news element is still strong and prominent at or near the opening but is treated in a lighter way. Largely based on factual detail and quotations, the writing is more flexible and there is likely to be more description and comment. The tone, established in the intro section, might be witty or ironic. The separation of hard and soft news emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century: the first, linked to notions of accuracy, objectivity, neutrality, was for conveying information; the second was more an entertainment genre.