Frowny-face journalism is a subset of the more general human interest story, which takes some boring, abstract, impersonal policy change or social problem, uses a large photo to illustrate the sadness of the story (e.g.crying children whose playcentre is closing or an old couple who are being forced out of their subsidised housing). As a consequence, readers automatically know what to think about the story - generally 'awwwww'. This is bad enough in itself, but there is an added danger: that of taking the analogy between the sad individual and the social issue too far.
Reading such stories is a common cause of news-rage
Example of a frowny-face journalism piece from the New Zealand Herald "Bruce Burgess, 60 years old and a qualified engineer, has been busy his entire adult life. Aside from a couple of years overseas in the early 1970s, he has worked, paid his taxes and saved his money.
His wife Jo has held down regular work as an office administrator and accounts person. Neither of them smoke, they don't take extravagant holidays, and drink only occasionally."
It makes you go "awwww"