Sensationalism In The Media Today Essay

How Sensationalism Affects Everyone Involved

In today s society journalism is under close scrutiny and is losing its credibility. Sensationalism effects both those who receive it in addition to those who report it. This essay will review the history of sensationalism in the media, clearly demonstrate how sensationalism effects ours views on journalism, and confront the ethical dilemmas that journalists must face between reporting objectively and reporting what sells. This will be accomplished by investigating various sources, including articles published on the Internet as well as those published in newspapers and magazines.

Throughout history sensationalism has been represented in all shapes and sizes. Celebrity journalism is amongst the oldest forms of sensationalism. For instance, America s first real newspaper, Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestic, reported a story on how the King of France was flirting with the prince s wife. Furthermore, in the 1830s, there was the creation of the penny press, which appealed to the then growing population of immigrants in our cities. These papers focused on the reporting of crime and celebrities. Sensationalism returned in the late 19th century in the form of Yellow Journalism . Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst competed viciously for readers of their respected newspapers. They both sensationalized stories about alleged atrocities committed by the Spanish, calling for the United States to step in on behalf of the Cubans. Equally important, when the USS Maine mysteriously blew up, both papers immediately blamed the Spaniards. Today, this incident remains a mystery. In addition many blame the act of Yellow Journalism as the cause for the Spanish/American war. Yet another form of sensationalism popped up in the 1920s, picture tabloids.

Sensationalism still remains a strong force in the current media. May it be in the form of picture tabloid magazines, celebrity journalism, or the violence infested media known as television and movies, the fact is that it sells. As long as there is a market for this type of unethical journalism there will a supply.

Over the years, the general public has depended on the media for its information on current events. On the other hand, the public is becoming less and less confident in the objectivity of the news that is reported. Just last year a reporter for The New Republic and two reporters for the Boston Globe resigned over charges of plagiarism and falsifying stories. In addition CNN ran a story on Vietnam that was proven inaccurate. The radio waves and television sets are flooded with sensationalized shows featuring beautiful young women and handsome men. The news watched today is sensationalized with one catastrophe after another. Is excitement what the market wants, or is the excitement expected because of a precedent set by the corporate owned media? Even in the reporting of sports, sensationalism rules. Channels like ESPN, owned by Disney , report homeruns, slam-dunks, and touchdowns with a dramatic twist. What effect does sensationalism have on the media s market? A survey done by the American Society of Newspaper Editors reports that spelling errors, bias, and sensationalism are corroding the credibility of newspapers. The survey shows:

 23% say they find factual errors in the news stories at least once a week.

 50% believe there are particular groups or people that get a special break in news coverage, while 45% feel that others don t get a fair shake.

 78% agree with the assessment that there is bias in the news media.

 80% believe that sensational stories get lots of news coverage because they are exciting, not because they are important.

Furthermore, George Gerbner has studied the effects of television violence (sensationalism) for more than thirty years. Through his studies, George Gerbner has found that violence seen on television does not promote violent behavior. It does much worse; it creates a sense of fear of becoming a victim. This causes feelings of insecurity and dependence. Children that grow up in a home where television is viewed heavily, tend to assume roles of a victim or victimizer. George Gerber states: Children are not born knowing these roles. Stories teach them how to act. The stories mentioned above are the stories that children see and learn from. Consequently, the actions of the media are their own cause for the demise of credibility. The effects of sensationalism are damaging the public and the integrity of journalism.

There is a clear dilemma for all journalists. Although sensationalism sells, journalists are breaking the ethical values that their profession was founded on. A responsible journalist is less partisan, less attached, and more accurate. They value the difference between opinion and the truth. If this defines a responsible journalist, why is an irresponsible journalist irresponsible? Is it because they are more concerned with promoting themselves rather than the story? Have they sold out for the all mighty dollar? Is it the audience s fault because they expect less? Maybe journalism students are being taught in college to get the sensationalized story because it sells you will make it big. Whether labeled ethics, values, or morals, they are declining rapidly in the United States. What would make anyone believe that journalism is exempt from this infectious downfall in American society? Objectivity, although hardly perfect, seems to be the less of two evils. Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other forms. The same can be said about objective journalism. As long as journalists are willing to work hard and be honest about its limitations, it will remain our least bad source of information. A journalist must decide, am I journalist because I want the world to know the truth or do I want to twist the truth so it will sound better? That is cut and dry.

In conclusion, it is evident that sensationalism has become deeply entrenched in the media, leaving the public paying a high price through their loss of credible sources of information. In turn, journalists are also paying a high price by sacrificing their ethical standards and succumbing to the temptations of sensationalism for the sake of profit. The mass media has particularly found an avenue for vivid sensationalism through the phenomenon of television, which allows the public to passively absorb fast-moving images, without receiving comprehensive information. It is unlikely that sensationalism can be eliminated, however, the public would be well advised to actively consider their sources of information, rejecting those that blatantly disregard standards of objectivity and credibility in exchange for shallow glitter. By clearly sending a message of dissatisfaction to the corporations that control the mass media, the public may influence the decisions that are made and work toward improvement. Likewise, despite being constrained by the mandates of their management, journalists must make a concerted effort to resist resorting to sensationalism to sell a story, and rather base their success on solid, objective reporting.

Sensational Journalism And Its Effects Essay

“If it Bleeds it Leads”

Nowadays the media have transformed its main mission of reporting news that actually happened in an accurate and objective way into covering stirring and controversial issues as news stories due to capitalistic motives. Moreover, today’s media took the motto “If it bleeds it leads” as a criteria to report any story. The aim of following this motto was to achieve high viewership rates and as a result gain more advertisers which will ultimately increase the profits. However, this motto changed the media from reporting facts into reporting sensational-fearful news. Thus, this paper will demonstrate the effects of sensational news, and how the media plays on the cultivation theory using sensationalism to increase viewers.

Sensational journalism and its effect
First of all, what is sensational journalism or media sensationalism and what are its potential effects?
According to Mehrotra (2011), media sensationalism is defined as “style of reporting news to public which involves use of fear, anger, excitement and crude thrill undertaken by the media to increase the viewership, ratings and lastly profits”. Moreover, this technique is used for two reasons: first to increase the rate of the viewers, and the second is to persuade the viewer that the solution for the suggested fear will be demonstrated in the news story. (Serani, 2011) .Additionally, the key to the success of sensational based news is in presenting the news in a sensational - fearful anecdote format instead of scientific facts. Thus, the media is promoting inaccurate news as the reports are aired without fact checking and based on sensationalism rather than on accurate facts. Hence, this style of reporting inaccurate news has hazardous effects on the audience in which it leads to setting off the viewer’s feeling of hopelessness and helplessness experiences which ultimately leads to depression (Serani, 2011). For example, in the case of the 11 Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped in Syria back in May. Their parents were waiting anxiousely to anything aout their children when all of a sudden “ an unconfirmed report of the pilgrims’ deaths as a result of military strikes in Azaz near the Syrian city of Aleppo left many families mourning until another unconfirmed report refuted their deaths. Almost all local media outlets were reporting unverified information on the fate of the pilgrims in Syria, with no official to confirm any of the accounts. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah also criticized the media’s attitude in a speech Thursday saying that the “The attitude of some reporters was tragic and disastrous” (Meguerditchian, 2012). Thus , such sensational coverage of sensitive cases lead to agitation whereas media has social responsibility during crisis time to ignore any rumor that is unconfirmed in order to decrease the stress and agitation rather than increase it .

Relation between Cultivation theory and sensational Media
Secondly, we are bombarded on a...

Loading: Checking Spelling


Read more

Tocacco and its effects Essay

1425 words - 6 pages Introduction Once considered a glamorous and sophisticated habit, smoking is now viewed with increasing disapproval. The recognition of the health risks of smoking is a primary cause of this change in public opinion, and it has led to significant changes in the behavior of many Americans. Over the past four decades, the proportion of cigarette smoking among adults in the

Caffeine and Its Effects Essay

2212 words - 9 pages Caffeine can be found in almost every drink you can buy in stores. People who consume caffeine usually drink it because of the positive effects it has on them, but they do not realize the harm they are causing their bodies with the caffeine they are putting into them. There are some issues involved with having caffeine on an everyday basis, which include withdrawals symptoms insomnia, dehydration, feelings of fatigue, cardiovascular side effects...

The Internet: its effects and its future

5830 words - 23 pages Internet, its effects in our lives and the future of the Internet:The Internet is, quite literally, a network of networks. It is comprised of ten thousands of interconnected networks spanning the globe. The computers that form the Internet range from huge mainframes in research establishments to modest PCs in people's homes and offices. Despite the...

Stress and Its Side Effects

1384 words - 6 pages Stress is more than just worrying about something little. Stress can cause major health problems and even in extreme cases death. Stress is the body’s way of responding to an event in your life. When the body is feeling stressed out it releases chemicals into the blood. These chemicals provide energy to fight or escape a physical event. However, when stressing over things the body can not fight or escape which means the chemicals now have no...

Australian Immigration And Its Effects

1095 words - 4 pages Australian Immigration and Its Effects      Australia is an island continent which is geographically isolated from the rest of the world. This has resulted in the evolution of many unique plants and animals and the development of a very fragile ecosystem. This ecosystem has been influenced by human immigration for many thousands of years.      The original immigrants were the Aborigines who are thought to have migrated to Australia...

The Internet and Its Effects

2382 words - 10 pages The Internet and Its Effects The Internet was first developed in 1957 as a communication resource for the military Defense Unit. Since then the Internet remains to a service of communication that is now provided to all people with the access of a computer. Over the past several years the Internet has developed and expanded into an endless resource of information and knowledge. With billions of Internet users present in the world today, the...

9/11 and its Effects

2221 words - 9 pages For many American civilians, 9/11 was not an exciting thing to occur in their lives. Some people however, do not know what 9/11 is or what happened. 9/11 is generally considered a terrorist attack, although some others think it was a plan created by the US government. The most widely accepted story is that it was an attack by Osama bin Laden. Due to this unfortunate event, many Americans and non-Americans may have overreacted after it happened....

Foster Care and Its Effects

1643 words - 7 pages Foster Care and Its Effects Many children are suffering due to various complications in their life. Children of all ages end up in the foster care system year after year. Their hardships influence them to feel really depressed and stoic. Many people do not read autobiographies, but the book, Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter teaches people about the complications of a first-hand foster child, how the foster care system is, and book...

Alcohol and Its Effects on the Body

1371 words - 5 pages Alcohol and Its Effects on the Body As tempting as it might be to consume alcohol in college, I have found through recent experiences that the idea might not be as glamorous and fun as it seems. I have experienced the trouble that drinking can cause and the negative impacts that alcohol does to your body. Unfortunately, I have experienced many of the troubles that alcohol can acquire for someone. There are so many...

Television Violence and its Effects on Children .

1144 words - 5 pages Television Violence and Its Effects on ChildrenOften thought of as one of the most fascinating inventions of the Twentieth Century, television has undoubtedly become a major part of our lives, providing us with entertainment and information. However, much of what is on the television today involves violence. Why? Because viewers want to...

Dominican Republic's Policies and its effects on its globalization

1710 words - 7 pages Ramirez 2The effects of modern Dominican Policies on its GlobalizationThroughout its independence, the Dominican Republic has had many shifts in government, which later also impacted the economy of the country, as well as world views of the country. It had finally declared its independence in 1844, when Los Trinitarios, along with the aid of Pedro Santana, overthrew the rule of the Haitian leader Jean...


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *