What are soft messages

Learn the differences between soft and hard messages

Hard news is a term most commonly used by journalists and other media professionals. Hard news is the type of quick news that normally appears on the front page of newspapers. Hard news stories often cover topics such as business, politics, and international news.

The two types of news stories

Hard news and soft news are considered to be the two main types of news stories.

Breaking news and events that require immediate coverage are viewed as difficult, while features and messages that are viewed as background information or human interest are viewed as soft news. Topics that are usually considered hard news are: politics, war, economics, and crime. On the other hand, the art, entertainment, and lifestyle stories are considered gentle news in nature.

Blurring of lines

What defines hard news isn't always the topic. Some may call a news story hard news because it's heavily reported - even though it's a topic that is considered softer (like entertainment). It is possible to see news traits that can be considered to be both tough and soft, like a story about the business relationships and personal life of a successful media mogul (some might wonder if it's a business or lifestyle story) or Renovation trends affecting home sales and costs in a booming housing market (again a mix of lifestyle and business).

The main difference between hard and soft news is the tone in which the story is presented. Hard news usually takes a factual approach that explains what happened, who the most important people were, and where and when it all happened, and why.

Soft news stories can be presented in a number of ways, but they usually seek to entertain or advise the reader in some way.

Listicles, like the top 10 ways to stretch after a run for lactic acid relief, are considered mellow news, as are deeper entertainment features, like the lives and scandals of famous politicians.

Soft lines

It is important to note that some stories, while considered hard news in style, can use soft entry to capture the reader's interest (and heart).

In general, soft messages require a different approach to text leading and are often referred to as "delayed leads" because they start telling a story before they get to the key facts. Soft news lead-ins are more narrative or anecdotal in nature, where they tell a story rather than giving important facts.

Feature stories (soft stories that are a little longer and more reflective) often use soft lead-ins and use more descriptive and colorful language before exploring any further. Such stories begin by setting the tone and introducing the reader to the atmosphere of the story before jumping into the who, what, when, where, and why. The story could then be closed with a conclusion such as can be found in more traditional narrative structures.