Nowadays you switch to any news channel it looks like the world is certainly going to end. Reporters report news in such a way that compels us to switch off the television. Even newspapers carry such unrefined headlines which make the readers lose interest in a second. Really, I feel media channels are hellbent in creating fear, anxiety and distress and slowly these channels are losing their importance in our society.
Previously when news channels were limited we received nearly accurate news and none of the news was repeated for the whole day. But with advent of different forms of communication, the reporters have commercialized news. Truly, while watching or reading any news it feels like the voice of common man has certainly been stifled and has been replaced by negative aspects of news.
Definition and Effects
Media sensationalism is defined as the 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. In the past few decades, media sensationalism has increased and is being religiously practiced by all the channels. Because of the increased use, reporting lost its credibility with reporters reporting false and alarming headlines.
This type of reporting depicted the dark side of journalism and it also created panic in the minds of the public.
- It has, in fact, snatched interest from the readers and has caused degradation of values in our society.
- Sensationalism is so deeply embedded with all the channels that the distinction between accurate and inaccurate news has completely vanished.
- The public are now so used to the distorted picture that they don't know which information is true.
- As if this is not enough, even the celebrities are not spared from this evil reporting. News about their break-ups, relationships, anger problems or be it any private matter is instantly shown and splashed in all the channels of communication.
- The vicious circle doesn't end here. After celebrities, it's news about the financial world, governmental policies and plight of the common man pictured as an amusement story.
- Right now sensationalism is compared with show business as it includes aspects of theatrical drama.
- The reporting is merely done to up their sales and grab the attention.
- By using this type of journalism, the public in general has limited their viewing time or reading time.
- The rationale behind this concept is not working at present, as the public is now used to taking things lightly.
- The effects of sensationalism corrode the awareness level, contemplate the critical issues and present it in a immature and unrealistic way.
Examples of Media Sensationalism
There are certain examples or news articles which have portrayed media sensationalism. The most recent one was a case where the mother was acquitted for the child's murder by the Court. But media channels already etched her as a murderer in our minds making her life a hell in our society. I don't think anybody would ever believe her side of story and even though she was found not guilty, papers and news telecasters had already crucified her as a devil in disguise. There was another case where a bluefish had bitten a girl and it was reported as a shark attack. The media also went on to alert people to stay away from a particular beach.
Similarly, last year it was the swine flu craze which had seen most of the offices having low attendance, schools being empty and roads bearing a deserted look. The report was true but it was escalated by the media to such a height that even if somebody sniffed we were rushing to the doctor's clinic. As Ecoli bacteria unleashed its terror on the tomatoes, literally due to the media reporting, I stopped eating any food that contained tomatoes.
Even on the Afghanistan war, the media reported a lot of factual errors like terrorists attacked an army base and killed several soldiers while the truth was that the militants attacks were not even near the base. Though the war is really taking toll economically and physically but why can't the media show the happenings in an unbiased way. This type of reporting has found its way in distorting facts of medical science which certainly creates unwarranted hopes and fears. Like how many times have we come across the news for medical breakthrough achieved in finding a cure for AIDS. But in reality the research is still in its preliminary stage.
I think it's high time that media should end this disillusionment in reporting and start reporting the facts. The rest should be left to the public to interpret and understand the meaning rather than stuffing unnecessary details in their minds.