Abstract: In this article, we analyse how various macro- and meso-level factors influence news media’s provision of hard news, an important element of media quality. The research draws on a content analysis of more than 100,000 news items between 2015 and 2019 from 53 print, radio, TV, and online news outlets in Switzerland, a small state with three linguistically segmented media markets, each of which is partially influenced by a large neighbouring country (Germany, France, and Italy). The research design takes into account the multi-dimensional character of hard news and allows for analysis with explanatory factors on different levels: On the meso-level, ownership types complemented with media types, and on the macro-level language regions of different market size. Findings show large differences in the importance of hard news overall and these findings are consistent across the three dimensions of hard news (topic dimension, focus dimension, style dimension). Hard news orientation differs especially between private and public media, but also within privately held media outlets, and less so within public media, which points to a general quality culture embedded within public media organizations. Thus, rather than by language region and the according media market size or by ownership types, quality differences can be best explained by media types.
Keywords: content analysis; media ownership; media performance; media quality; media types; news; Switzerland