Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Zoe Oxley




soft news, information, viewership, entertainment


In today’s media environment there are two different forms of news programs: hard news—news in the traditional sense of a newscast presenting the facts of an event—and soft news. The phenomenon of soft news is a hybrid of shows that mix politics with entertainment encompassing sensationalism and human-interest components when reporting on select high-profile political issues. An early form of this news type includes daytime talk shows such as Oprah to the now popular comedic faux news programs such as The Daily Show. The age bloc of 18-24 year olds has been considered the primary viewership of some soft news sources. These same young Americans are seen as an apathetic group in terms of political interest and involvement compared generations of the recent past. Thus it was of interest for this thesis to explore whether exposure to soft news influences levels of cynicism towards the electoral system, voting behavior, knowledge levels, ideologies, and political discourse among this age group. Although my sample did not consume large amounts of soft news, there seemed to be a correlation between those who consumed some level of soft news and civic engagement through voting, registering to vote, or partaking in political discourse among peers. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report were soft news sources that were specifically highlighted by this research.