An interesting study in 2015 by the National Youth Policy Institute showed startling differences in the reading habits of younger and older people. It found that most people aged 18-34, so-called “millennials” consume news in quite a different manner from people aged 50-65; the former have a remarkably lower number of people who read news as opposed to the latter group. It turned out that the millennials do not really access news brands continually throughout the day, and even if they do read news, over 40 percent of them stated that they read ‘soft news,’ whereas the older age group prefers ‘hard news.’
It is undeniable that people are easily attracted to soft news which does not deal with serious topics or events; however, news that both provides a sense of reality that contributes to understanding society and news that gives a sense of humor to life are important. There seems to be no constancy in consuming news in Korean society. To understand this phenomenon better, The Argus met with two people in their 20s, who came from two different countries, to listen to how people consume news in their respective countries.
Hard news and soft news are considered the two major types of news stories available. According to an article from The Balance, hard news is fast-paced news that usually appears on the front page of newspapers. Up-to-the-minute news and events that require immediate reporting are considered hard. This includes subject matter such as: politics, war, economics, and crime. Hard news usually takes on a factual approach that explains what happened, who the main people involved were and where and when everything happened and why. Conversely, soft news highlights news that is considered background information or human-interest stories that have wider social appeal. Soft news stories can be presented in a variety of ways, but they usually try to entertain or advise the reader in some way. In general, soft news requires a different approach to lead writing and is often called delayed leads because they start telling a story before getting to the main facts, i.e., lead-ins tend to be narrative or anecdotal in nature, telling a story instead of stating important facts.
The Argus: What does it mean to read the news in your country?
Russians are well-known for their love of reading. Just like the saying goes, “Information is power” is very true in my country. Most Russians think that reading the news is a good habit that can provide a great sense of educational value and it is already part of their modern lifestyle. Here are some of the reasons people in my country are into news: first, the news provides information and general knowledge including a country’s political and economic situation and people believe this will widen their outlook; second, reading the news makes people well-informed, and enables people to take part in every discussion pertaining to current world events; last but not least, through the news, people have a clear idea and understanding of what is happening in their country, which in turn helps people to establish their own ideas. These are the reasons many Russians habitually read daily newspapers both on or off-line.
In Tajikistan, reading the news is important in order to keep up with everyday conversations. People in my country are always eager to talk about what happened in politics, economics and so on. Everyone wants to learn about the things that are constantly changing around them. It is important for us to know where we are heading to and stay up-to-date on this world.
The Argus: Do the young people read hard news?
Yes, they do read the news quite a lot. People do not even consider soft news as news. Russians would rather call them ‘gossip.’ According to the survey done in 2017 by “Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM),” about 1,280 of young people out of 1,600 said that they read the news online every day. Most of the news the young people in Russia consume are hard news and it is common for them to visit a news brand website to get more information when they see an interesting story on social media.
Young people are more likely than older people to exhibit their news habits on digital devices - allowing them to regularly snack on news - and they have developed different routes of accessing news brands. They access news to pass the time when moving from one place to another, and access news constantly, prompted by a general need and state of distraction.
As more and more people are using social media, news are also changing their values and attitudes in order to provide a proper climate for social and economic progress. I believe the majority of younger generation read hard news through media, broadcasting, and internet.
The Argus: How much is it different for each generation conceive the idea about reading news?
Both younger and older people favor professional journalism as their major news source, but the only difference between these two groups is that young people do not rely on the news as much as their parents do for a balanced and informed view. I think this is because young people reading news constantly feel pressure from the possible surveillance of government, and thereby, do not really count on everything the news reports as being factual. According to the same survey, 48 percent of young people replied that they do not believe news from the internet. Further, 47 percent said that they read different sorts of media to get the full point of view on the situation, and 37 percent think that Russian mass media such as newspapers, TV, and the internet does not cover important or decent information, while older people believe almost everything they see on TV.
People watch daily news shows on TV, read from the internet and newspapers. Compared to the younger generation, the older generation mainly reads news by purchasing daily and weekly newspapers. I think the older generation is much more involved in news content than the younger generation.
The Argus: Does the government in your country provides any program to encourage young people to read more news?
As far as I remember, it seems like none has ever existed. However, there are newspapers - though it may not always be authentic - in reach and people find it easy to get them while taking a subway train, etc. Plus, anyone schooled in Russia will remember having to be involved in the society that they are in. I think it is a cultural thing, and I personally do not understand why the government should foster a need in young people to read more news.
We do not have any programs that the government provides for a special or specific purpose, but all TV shows and news in my country have their own apps and platforms, and they are very active in social media like Facebook, Instagram, Odnoklassniki, and VK.
By Moon Chae-un
Associate Editor of Campus Section