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...