In modern society, the news constitutes an important part of people’s lives. The public wants to know as much as possible and has enough information that can determine their present concerns or affect their future lives. There are many opinions and attitudes towards news and its distribution via the press, radio, or television. Baum’s work about the media in the political context and the worth of soft news will be discussed in this essay. The media is the means to introduce and share soft news among people and make them able to decide, participate in various discussions, and realize their roles as citizens.
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People get access to a variety of news, including those that may entertain and those that tire from the very first seconds. Baum explains soft news as mass media that describes some major events and opposes it to traditional news as “less public-policy-oriented and less apt to provide a context for understanding an issue” (p. 529). The peculiar feature of this type of news is the attention of the authors to scandalous aspects, fashion, or even murder. When a person is not interested in politics or other similar topics, it is better to focus on something that may arouse the desire to listen or observe. Everyday issues, unpredictable concerns, and real-life episodes are always captivating to watch and analyze.
There are many examples of soft news coverage that may be found online. Baum uses the decision of A Current Affair to expose the topic of the Gulf War from the point of view of soldiers’ wives and their psychological traumas after imprisonments in Iraq (p. 530). The events in Vietnam are also hard to accept and understand from a pure warfare perspective. The idea to depict them via soft news focusing on native citizens’ emotions and obligations to leave their homes and accept other conditions of living changed the way of how the news had to be represented.
The television revolution and the spread of media effect on people are hard to control nowadays. Public opinion depends considerably on the information people obtain from published and online news. Therefore, if soft news tends to attract the attention even of politically uninterested people, it may share public awareness in a variety of ways. According to Baum, “by transforming mundane political coverage into entertainment, the soft news media have successfully employed piggybacking and cheap framing strategies … to capture a substantial segment… of the television audience” (p. 532). The role of soft news in politics is not only to present information but make it interesting to a wide audience by being clear and disclosing the events similar to those from ordinary people’s lives.
The media’s impact on democratic politics cannot be ignored due to the progress of soft news. People enjoy the possibility to hear the freshest news from credible sources, and the dissemination of political information is not an exception. Soft news in a democratic society is a chance to reach even the most politically uninterested people. At the same time, this news is a threat to democracy because it is hard to predict the outcomes of the media’s effect and the ways of how the news may be accepted by different people.
There is an evident connection between politics and the media. Its uniqueness is that people are not able to understand if it is good or bad for politicians, society, the country, and the entire world. On the one hand, there is a burning desire to provide people with various facts and information about political leaders, their lives, mistakes, and other examples of human drama. On the other hand, instability and unpredictability of public opinion play a crucial role in soft news’ acceptance. Therefore, each episode described in soft news has to be properly investigated by a professional team of analytics.
Baum, Matthew A. “The Media.” Readings in American Politics: Analysis and Perspectives, edited by Ken Kollman, 3 rd ed., W. W. Norton & Company, 2015, pp. 529-532.
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