Why sensationalized news stories are damaging to society

Breanna Ebisch, Staff Writer

It seems as if every headline printed in newspapers or discussed on television today is riddled with sensationalism. It is very difficult to decipher what is the truth or bias. What is actual news and what are you supposed to believe?

The Oxford Dictionary definition of sensationalism is, especially in journalism, “the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement.”

More often than not, news stories become sensationalized for the simple fact that ratings and readership will rise if people find the story interesting.

Although one event is deemed newsworthy, the media today have taken it upon themselves to turn an ordinary story about an important event into something that is covered for weeks or even months.

So the question rises, are sensationalist news stories demeaning and damaging to society? Most people are not even aware of the difference between an average story and a sensationalized one. But the effects of sensational stories can last for a long period of time in society and can change our perception of the media as we know it.

When the facts of a story are exaggerated in order for that particular newspaper or television station to recieve a better rating, the public can find it difficult to understand the reality of what was covered.

Besides weeding through stories to get the truth, the population would also have to consider if the news they are reading everyday is in fact accurate.

Most people do not have the time to consider all these variables when they pull up a news story on their phone or flip to a page in a newspaper, which makes sensationalist news even more controversial.

The practice of sensationalism within news is not only deceiving to the public, but also hurtful to the media’s reputation in several ways.

Many news outlets that write and cover stories while using sensationalism make the readers feel betrayed or untrustworthy of the news.

Although many wouldn’t notice the difference between an accurately reported story and a sensationalized one, when the public finds out the claims weren’t completely true, that outlet would most likely lose a majority of its respect as readers or viewers become skeptical.

What makes a news outlet trustworthy is their reporting of facts that are true to the event and provide the people with the correct information to tell the story of an event without any exaggeration.

These tactics almost always guarantee the most reliable news stories, and those newspapers or television stations earn the most respect from the population because of it.

The media has been criticized on multiple accounts in the last few years due to the amount of bias that can be found within reporting. This also greatly contributes to sensationalist news, with the increasing skepticism about what is beneficial or what is truthful news, the media has slowly been losing its respect.

Overall respect for any form of media has fallen greatly simply because of the use of sensationalism, which can be seen as demeaning to the industry.

Next time a headline or story catches your eye when you’re reading the news, take a moment to think about if that piece of news was impacted by sensationalism or bias.

If it does, you might feel betrayed that a story you were genuinely interested in was actually misleading and not entirely true to the actual event.

Sensationalist news impacts our lives every day without many even realizing it, but in reality, this practice is hurtful not just to the journalism industry but also to the public.