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Sensationalism

From Academic Kids

Sensationalism is a manner of being extremely controversial, loud, attention-grabbing, or otherwise sensationalistic.

The term is commonly used in reference to the media. Critics of media bias of all political stripes often charge the media with engaging in sensationalism in their reporting and conduct. That is to say they charge that the media often chooses to report on shocking or attention-grabbing stories, rather than relevant or important ones.

In the extreme case (but really quite common), the media would report the news if it makes a good story, without much regard for the factual accuracy. Thus, a press release including ridiculous and false pseudoscientific claims issued by a controversial group is guaranteed a lot of media coverage. Two examples are claims of human cloning by Clonaid and claims of cold fusion by Pons and Fleischmann.

Critics often say is the goal of sensationalistic reporting, is increased (or sustained) viewership or readership which can be sold to advertisers.

Such stories are often perceived (rightfully, or mistakenly) as partisan-biased due to the sensational nature in which they are reported. A media piece may report on a political figure in a biased way or present one side of an issue while deriding another, or may, more neutrally, simply include sensational aspects such as doomsayers and/or junk science. Complex subjects and affairs are often subject to sensationalism. Exciting and emotionally charged aspects can be drawn out without providing elements such as pertinent background, investigative, or contextual information needed for the viewer to form his or her opinion on the subject.

Sometimes mainstream media is duped into reprinting stories from comedy sites as facts without any factual checks. Recent examples include a story about Microsoft antispyware software deleting Internet Explorer [1] (http://www.bbspot.com/News/2005/01/microsoft_antispyware.html) and a story about deep sea creatures brought by the Asian tsunami [2] (http://www.snopes.com/photos/tsunami/creature.asp).

See Also

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