A well-functioning democracy needs the news media to provide information to its citizens. It is therefore essential to understand what kinds of news contents contribute to gains in citizens' political knowledge and for whom this takes place. Extant research is divergent on this matter, especially with respect to ‘softer’ news coverage. This cross-national study investigates the effects of exposure to human interest and conflict frames in the news on political knowledge. Drawing on panel surveys and media content analyses in three countries, the study shows how these two frames contribute positively to political knowledge gain. This relationship is moderated by political interest so that those who are least interested learn the most from this type of easily accessible news coverage. The results are discussed in the light of research on news media and knowledge acquisition.