‘Sensational’ News: How The Media Traded Its Humanity For Increased Viewership

Posted by Shreya Johri in Media, Society
March 14, 2018

Sensationalism means overlooking dignity and facts to capture public attention. This is basically an attention seeking act which has also been used to divert the public’s attention from actual problems and issues at hand. Where journalists are supposed to put up facts and figures as they are, sensational news exaggerates and blows even the tiniest of details out of proportions.

Though it is understood that had it not been for sensationalism, some news items would not catch the reader’s eye. This means that a bit of tweaking here and there can help get higher viewership. But does this type of news have a limit? It is said that extremes are bad. Sensationalising news for the sake of increased viewership is of no value if the item does not have news value either.

Many a times, not only is the news just sensational but also fake. The organisation bringing out such news lose all credibility. I believe that as long as the news is true, it can be spiced up a little to grab attention, no matter how worthless the made-up bits may seem.

A lot of journalists have now started indulging in sensational news. This leads us to question their credibility. If they were initially considered credible, this might also trigger a reaction. If a case of murder has been registered against a person, their caste, religion or other such characteristics are added. The act of murder is not paid any heed, while everything else is glorified.

Most of this news is majorly around issues like caste and religion, or people like politicians and celebrities. Celebrities become sensational news for even dressing their babies. News of how they dress, whether they travel with other celebs or alone, become sensationalised. The death of a celebrity calls for the highest glorification that can be awarded as the media forgets that they are as human as ordinary citizens.

The death of Indian actress Sridevi caused major chaos in the news industry. A reporter from a channel, who had arrived outside the house of the late actress, reported that not a single family member was available for a comment. Why would someone who lost a relative want to discuss it? The questions asked are framed in a way which recreate every moment of the tragedy. Going back in time and revisiting such a memory is not only painful and upsetting but also terrifying. Acting is their profession, not their way of life. Losing someone is equally painful for a person of any profession, be it an actor or a doctor who sees death regularly as part of the job.

Adopting sensationalism does not only strip one of their realness but also their humanity. They also lose the viewers’ trust. News of any matter needs to be considered delicately and should be handled with care, keeping in mind the emotions of the people involved and thereby making news more humane.