In my own (extremely limited, I admit) experience, documentaries CAN indeed get away with music far more often than “straight news”. This may be because documentaries are typically closer in format to “case studies” as opposed to “mass reports” in terms of the human experience, but that’s just one evaluation.
For my demographic (19-24 year old college males), I CAN’T serve straight news. It hurts, because I adore straight news in the style of Morning Edition or BBC World News. The fact is that it doesn’t capture their attention. It feels like quality prostitution to just sprinkle in news amongst a backdrop of music! For now, I’m following up legitimate news stories with music of a similar theme.
Recent statistics of college rape and sexual assaults -> fade into -> “Mary Jane” by Alanis Morrisette
Genetically altered salmon approved for mass consumption -> pop over to -> “The Tide is High” by Blondie
It’s necessary for tis demographic, I feel. Just hoping Terry Gross doesn’t cringe upon listening, if you catch my drift.