Ariana Grande released the music video for her already record-breaking hit, “thank u, next” on Friday Nov. 30. In just under 22 hours, the much-anticipated video destroyed YouTube’s record for most views within the first 24 hours of release, according to Variety.
News of Grande’s massive success traveled fast. Variety reported that the video saw such a large traffic spike that there was a delay for users who wanted to post comments. Yet, despite the numbers backing it up, some found the video unworthy of serious news attention.
While entertainment is categorized as soft news as opposed to hard news, which covers topics such as politics and business, it is still worthy of coverage. Soft news should be taken as seriously as hard news considering the influence it holds over its audience and society as a whole.
Following the release of the video for “thank u, next,” BuzzFeed News published a lead story covering the video and its massive success. Senior media reporter for CNN Oliver Darcy expressed his skepticism toward the article in a tweet on Friday Nov. 30.
“BuzzFeed does a lot of great journalism—so how is this the lead story on BuzzFeed NEWS dot com?” Darcy wrote, according to Twitter.
Darcy makes a good point. Up until now, hard news was reserved for the front page and soft news disappeared somewhere in the middle. The rise of social media, however, suddenly made the lives of celebrities more accessible, thus the popularity of soft news grew, whether people are willing to admit it or not.
At the end of the day, journalism is a business and in order to sell, the most engaging, timely articles must be featured. Hard news will always fit these requirements, but more and more often, soft news is selling just as well.
For example, in 2013, the most read story of the year was one detailing Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s shocking performance at the MTV Music Video Awards, according to news.com. au. This popularity demonstrates that while hard news will always be important and cover-worthy, soft news is just as impactful and interesting.
There is a consistent misperception that the increasing popularity of soft news is taking away from the significance of hard news. In fact, the opposite is true. Soft news draws readers in and gets more people to care about hard news than ever before.
Perhaps media outlets should loosen the reigns and blur the line between soft and hard news. By combining the dramatic style of soft news to report hard news topics, audiences could be more inclined to care about “real news,” as some still refer to the serious subjects of hard news.
Princeton University professor of politics and public affairs Markus Prior looks at the possibilities of blending soft and hard news in his research.
“By focusing on the more entertaining, shocking, or scandalous aspects of politics, soft news offers people an alternative that maximizes their utility because it combines entertainment and information,” Prior wrote.
Keeping journalistic precedent in mind, there’s logic behind Darcy’s opposition, but times are changing. Grande’s record-breaking hit deserved to be covered on the main page of BuzzFeed, considering the cultural impact of the song.
Just as Grande has clearly entered a new era, modern journalism must do the same. It’s time to stop belittling the importance of soft news and instead recognize how elements of it may benefit hard news
Ariana Grande (pictured above) made history with her “thank u, next” music video and it has made front page news. Entertainment and other soft news should be taken as seriously as hard news as journalism continues to evolve.