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CATEGORIES OF NEWS AND REPORTING
Generally, news can be broken down into three broad categories: (1) hard news, (2) features or soft news, and (3) investigative reports.
Hard News. Hard news stories make up the bulk of news reporting. They typically embody the first four of the five traditional news values discussed above. Hard news consists of basic facts: who, what, when, where, how. It is news of important public events, such as government actions, international happenings, social conditions, the economy, crime, environment, and science. Hard news has significance for large numbers of people. The front sections of a newspaper or magazine and the lead stories of a radio or TV newscast are usually filled with hard news.
There is a standard technique used to report hard news. In the print media, it is the traditional inverted pyramid form. The main facts of the story are delivered in the first sentence (called the lead) in an unvarnished, no-nonsense style. Less important facts come next, with the least important and most expendable facts at the end. This structure aids the reporter (who uses it to compose facts quickly), the editor (who can lop off the last few paragraphs of a story to make it fit the page without doing wholesale damage to the sense of the story), and the reader (who can tell at a glance if he or she is interested in all, some, or none of the story). This format has been criticized for being predictable and old-fashioned. More literary writing styles have been suggested as alternatives, but the inverted pyramid has survived and will probably be around far into the future.
In the broadcast media, with the added considerations of limited time, sound, and video, the inverted pyramid format is not used. Instead, broadcast reporting follows a square format. The information level stays about the same throughout the story. There's usually no time for the less important facts that would come in the last paragraphs of a newspaper story. TV and radio news stories use either a "hard" or a "soft" lead. A hard lead contains the most important information, the basic facts of the story. For example, "The city council has rejected a plan to build the Fifth Street overpass." A soft lead is used to get the viewers' attention; it may not convey much information. For example, "That proposed Fifth Street overpass is in the news again." The lead is then supported by the body of the story, which introduces new information and amplifies what was mentioned in the lead. The summation, the final few sentences in the report, can be used to personalize the main point ("This means that the price you pay for gasoline is likely to go up"), introduce another fact, or discuss future developments.
Of course, the writing style of broadcast news is completely different. The writing is more informal, conversational, and simple. In addition, it's designed to complement sound bites (the sound of the newsmaker) or videotape segments.
Ex. 1. Answer the questions:
1. What qualities of news are agreed about by most journalists? Characterize each of them in brief.
2. What role in defining news value does economics play?
3. What is hard news? Give examples.
4. What technique is used to report hard news?
5. Where is a square format used?
6. How is the writing style of broadcast different?
Ex. 2. Give the Russian equivalents to the following:
To have an impact, stale news, to pursue a story, the bulk of news reporting, by the same token, lead stories, standard technique, to enhance the chances, an unvarnished style, to attract tremendous media attention.
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