Sensationalism in the Media?

Sensationalism in news stories is a commonly discussed topic. From compelling reports on the missing flight MH370 to daily gossip on Justin Bieber, sensationalism seemingly haunts the journalism industry. Sensationalism is the, ‘tendency for the press to play up and dwell on stories that are sensational – murders, car crashes, kidnappings, sex scandals and the like’ (Daily Source). This intriguing report backed up by statistical evidence offers an invaluable insight into the ‘Current State of the Media’, as the report is titled.

According to the report, ‘In a study by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, eighty percent of the American public said they believe “journalists chase sensational stories because they think it will sell papers, not because they think it is important news. ”  Another 85 percent of the public believes that “newspapers frequently over-dramatize some news stories just to sell more papers.” Over 80 percent believe sensational stories receive lots of news coverage simply because they are exciting, not because they are important.’ It certainly seems that the more compelling the story, the more readable it becomes, whereas perhaps the more viable and credible stories are those backed up with substantial evidence and empirical research.

One debating website offers a different way to look at it: is sensationalism good or bad? Not whether it is morally correct or accords with the traditional definition of journalism, but does it add value and is it welcomed by the consumer. Five people responded, three of which disproved of sensationalism whereas the other two approved, ‘Exaggeration is what catches the eye, thereby spreading news more effectively.’ Of course, the contrasting viewpoint differed, ‘It is corruption in a way,’ to, ‘Media should always be objective about the way they show the news.’


Daily Source 2014, Current Problems in the Media, Daily Source, viewed 1st June 2014,

Debate, Is sensationalism in the media always a bad thing?,, viewed 1st June 2014,





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