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This is an excerpt from the NHK article:

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20210406/k10012958101000.html

研究班は、国内でワクチンの接種を受けた医療従事者のうち、およそ1万9000人について健康状態などを調べていますが、接種後に感染が確認されたのは初めてだということです。

As far as I can tell, removing ということです to yield:

研究班は、国内でワクチンの接種を受けた医療従事者のうち、およそ1万9000人について健康状態などを調べていますが、接種後に感染が確認されたのは初めてです。

Gives the same meaning. So is ということです kind of just like news/article speech?

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    NHK here is quoting someone else. Without ということです this would sound like it's NHK's opinion. ということです essentially means "it is said that..." or "it is reported that..." or "according to our sources". – A.Ellett Apr 6 at 19:53
  • Makes sense, thanks! – Luke McAloon Apr 7 at 2:54
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ということです seems to be something specific to formal writing and news reporting. I encounter it a lot in books on history or philosophy and generally in a context when the opinion of someone, who's not necessarily been specified, is quoted.

I've struggled myself with how to translate it when I run across it in a text, but generally it doesn't seem to translate well. Japanese is very sensitive to how we get the information we're passing on: did we observe it ourselves or did we learn from someone else.

My guess would be that ということです doesn't necessarily indicate a particular source. It could be a conclusion reached by the impression you get from several different sources. In the article you're quoting it's perhaps something gleaned from what the Covid Research Groups have published. I think it's the lack of specificity of 研究班 that leads to this vague citation through the expression ということです

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It indicates that the speaker is relaying something that they heard. It's not limited to news and is also frequently used in stories, e.g. 故郷に帰った二人は仲良く暮らしたという.

That said this use of いう is a tad archaic and you probably hear other forms like らしい、って言ってたよ in its place much more frequent in colloquial speech.

I'm not sure if there is a defined standard for when to use 伝聞形 in news. But generally, it's used to relay something you yourself haven't verified firsthand. E.g. it'd be odd to say 太陽は明るいということだ, but it's natural to say: 白夜の太陽は明るいという (assuming the speaker has never seen 白夜). And it's equivalent to saying: 白夜の太陽は明るいらしい

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