Have you noticed that each time you pick up a newspaper the front story isn’t necessarily the most important story covered? Often the significant story is kept inside, on the second or third page. This is what we call sensationalist journalism, or ‘yellow journalism’.
This kind of journalism appeals to people’s interests, but will not necessarily inform them of the world’s events. It’s the kind that would, say, talk about Taylor Swift’s new ‘boyfriend’ rather than the new law that just passed in Australia.
According to Knowledge at Wharton High School, “sensation sells” (George Taber). They write that journalists haven’t found a way to sell more intellectual publications. They believe that sensationalism is just the way of the future—even bigger media outlets are falling prey to sensationalism (you can read more about it here).
These days people would rather go on a thrill-ride while reading the news than to simply be informed. People wants things to talk about, and sensationalism helps that.
The Crime Report talks about the pros and cons of sensationalism (in this case, crime specifically) in journalism. They state that “all sensationalist journalism is essentially designed to arouse strong emotional reactions”. The Crime Report also talks about how, although sensationalism in journalism may be on the decline, it hasn’t gone away completely and probably never will.
Let’s face it—I’d much rather read an article titled ‘A murder that happened right next door’ than one such as ‘An unfortunate incident involving a knife’. Sensationalism sells. The biggest issue is how that fits in with moral issues. Do journalists abuse the death of a person to sell their newspapers and make money?
Is sensationalism ethical? Is it necessary to sell? Or is everyone just too caught up in business to care about informing the population? Leave your comments below.
Here are the articles I used: