Sensationalized Journalism king of media

Casey Anthony, Adam Lanza and Manti Te’o. These names have become synonymous with murder and scandal, all while having their faces shown on every conceivable outlet of news, sparking major debate and in the case of Lanza, dividing a country. While the stories are newsworthy in their own right, the way they were covered and presented to the public was formulated to drive ratings and advance careers ultimately dehumanizing a human-interest piece.

Newsflashes, continuous tickers and the picture of an alleged criminal condemned before a fair trial shown over and over again as “new” information is read by the same anchor who has undoubtedly reported on the same story for the last few hours. Cameras and reporters flooding small towns and berating grieving communities trying to advance their careers are hallmark of the current state of the twenty-four hour news cycle and its sensationalism.

Sensationalism isn’t a new trend in journalism, rather newspapers dating back to the 1800’s would run multiple special editions in a day concerning a local story of great interest. Today however, the localization of stories has given way to national sensationalism, as viewers stay glued to their news networks hoping for an update of an event half way across the country.

There is, as with anything, a silver lining in sensationalism. It serves to better inform broader audiences and those less literate, or out of touch, about human interest, major world developments and tragedy. However, the stories that are picked up are increasingly sensationalized to an inappropriate extreme.

In a CNN interview with Howard Kurtz, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources and author of five books pertaining to the media, Kurtz details his reaction to the September 11th tragedy and how the media sensationalized the event. Kurtz went so far as to write a column asking networks to stop showing footage of people jumping out of windows.

“They were even playing it as ‘bumpers’ before breaks and as a split-screen illustration while various guests were being interviewed.” Kurtz said. “This served to trivialize and dehumanize a horrifying event.”

Likewise, the events at Sandy Hook, Columbine and the case of Casey Anthony were dehumanized the more they were broadcasted and speculated. Despite CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News being reliable resources for breaking news, the inundation of repeated information relayed to the viewer serves as nothing more than to drive ratings, resulting in increased revenue. With money as the motivation, resulting in dehumanization, why does the public continue to watch?

The answer is, we love drama.

Until the American people alter their preference in entertainment, nothing is going to change.

Continuing his review of the media and their practices Kurtz said, ”Journalism and sensationalism have sadly become merged in the public mind during the media frenzies of the last decade.”

The symbiotic relationship between sensationalism and journalism has exacerbated the already existing condition of yellow journalism and until we stop watching, no progress can be made. It’s just too bad no one wants to.