Electronic Magazines: Soft News Programs on Network Television


This study examines the phenomenon of the "electronic magazine" and shows how the soft news programs affect the public's view of American politics and culture. Maintaining the distinction between the syndicated, tabloid-style programming (whose survival depends almost entirely on ratings success) and the more responsibly conceived network magazine programming, Spragens provides a thorough content analysis of "60 Minutes", "Dateline NBC", "20/20", and similar network series. His study traces the development of the television magazine genre from the original "60 Minutes" through the current crop of news programs; it tracks the soft/hard or sensational/serious content dichotomy and its relation to ratings; and it draws conclusions about the trends in soft news programming and their impact on the American public.

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