Why does the news media sensationalize and exaggerate so much?
July 30, 2011 10:28pm CST
A few years back there was an earthquake in China. It wasn't a super, major one but it did do a lot of damage. My local newspaper reported the death toll to be 150 something people. However, a neighbor of mine has a son who was working as a charity volunteer over there at the time. He had talked (with a translator of course) to the locals and they said only 52 people had died. That's just one example of what I believe are many. It sees that the news media likes to exaggerate and sensationalize a lot. It seems to me at times that it is almost their goal to spark panic in the masses via bending or adding onto the truth. They also have a knack for skipping over positive happenings. You will hear about how gas prices are getting higher and higher, but you will not hear about how more and more car manufacturers are designing and planning on releasing electric cars with ever growing ranges. You will of course hear about how this animal species went extinct, but you will not hear about how this other animal species made an unexpected comeback due to successful conservation acts. You will hear about the latest earthquake, but you will not hear about how the many lives after were saved by emergency charities. If one only got their information from the latest news, they would conclude that world is a living hell with no hope. This of course is not the case, but since the media only presents one side, one might conclude such. What do you think? Do news networks go out of their way to make the latest news more deceptively juicy? Do they purposely skip the good things because "bad news sells"? If you say yes, they do you think this kind of behavior is acceptable? If you say no, then what do you think of the news media?
3 people like this
31 Jul 11
Your topic reminds me of my class days when we as a class discuss media to no end. To tell you the truth, I learned many things even at the start. This might result into a crash course on media. First, you should understand that media is a business. Anything that can sell is their hot product. They don't care is the issue is genuine or important, as long as it sells and the public consumes it. The public in return will also buy the anything the media says, since it is always fashionable to follow trends and not making them. Second, I learned in school that media has an agenda setting capacity. With so many news coming from many places, you can't squeeze it in an hour or a 30 minute program. So media people pick on what they think will interest the public and air it while disregarding the rest. People forget the news anyway after a day or two because new developments, events or news happen everyday in every location. A good reason why news is always profitable. Third, exaggeration and sensationalize is the media's bread and butter. People will not buy anything that is boring and bland. It has to special and not your ordinary thing. Also, remember that the line between entertainment and news are blurring. News stories need to be informing but also entertaining to give some spice to the material. News likes to have a human side to the every story or issue and objectivity nowadays, is technically a subjective aspect. Fourth, it is also a component of news to air the negative side more than the positive side. Perhaps it is becuase people are becoming more alert and more receptive to bad news or danger compared to their positive counterparts. Bad news sells more becuase people are more attuned to survive and it is almost always out of the ordinary life. You can conclude that news agencies does not only report the news but also sometimes make it more 'juicy' for the purpose of making it more marketable and sell-able. Keep in mind that news agencies are not just doing this for public service but also for income. For everything else, ask Rupert Murdoch. News is like PR - there's no such thing as bad PR or news becuase the attention and the revenue comes in no matter what they report. As long as they have an audience and their attention, they are having a nest egg and lots of money. I hope that I covered all the bases in your discussion and I hope I didn't cause you too much disillusionment. I was just pointing out what I learned and discovered as a media practitioner. It was fun relieving those lessons. Ah...good old days.
• United States
31 Jul 11
First, I have to wonder why your star isn't a full ten. You have a habit of giving these thorough, "all bases covered" responses. :) I suppose it is idealistic to expect the media to forget profit and focus on the truth. I suppose news in general wouldn't survive if it was just truth without entertaining sensationalism. I also guess we all know this in the back of our heads but just don't think about it. Still, you pointed out a lot of stuff I haven't thought about before - like the business aspect of media.
31 Jul 11
Ratings, like in TV and here in mylot, is heavily dependent on viewpoints and opinions and other people's perception. It depends on the audience who receives the message. I would like to be a member here who don't wanted to be concerned with the ratings. Mylot is a site to express opinion, whether they agree or disagree with others. However, I will admit that sometimes my ratings does bug me only when somebody tries to sabotage me. But that's another can of worms. As you said, I try to cover 'bases' since they are people who genuine like to be informed of a particualr topic. It a good service to share what the world really is about from different perspective or from experience. Glad to be of service. Media is complicated stuff, even though some people think it was peanuts or very shallow. Reminds of my classmates who transferred from the Engineering department. They once told me they thought Math was bad. They did survive the course with flying colors.
31 Jul 11
i think the media sometimes exaggerate things, especially the life of celebrities, to get more viewers and to sell their shows/news. although, i haven't encounter news media who exaggerate new, i think media who do this just to get more viewers are very unethical. from what i know, newscasters/ news writers must deliver news to the public without compromising the facts. journalists who do such things are breaking their code of ethics.
1 Aug 11
Two cents - My professor once told me (when we were discussing this part) that the code of ethics are simply 'guidelines'. not rules. So people in the industry are asked to observe the rules but if they do break them and get caught, it's their problem. It's more of a battle between your conscience and integrity. I think that the former self of media has more of this integrity thing becuase they are really dependent on their credibility. Once their credibility is shot, it's over. Now, they can switch networks and pretend nothing happened.
• Lima, Peru
31 Jul 11
Unfortunately bad news sells and the media need money to stay in business. But not only the bad news sell, but also gossip about famous people, so there is the so-called tabloids. The reason for this is the money and the power to manipulate people's opinion. No offense to any journalist, but I once read that somebody said that reading newspapers was a waste of time.
• Boise, Idaho
31 Jul 11
For one thing there are alot of news people out there. All clammering to be the first one to post the news. And they take a chance that there infor is correct and hurriedly get it published. More responsible and respectful news companies will wake and publish well researched information after the fact.
31 Jul 11
Hi Awinds! Mass media always sensationalize something because people buy it. They think they wil get more audience or readers when they report something in an exaggerated manner. And I think it's true. Whenever something gets big, more and more people tend to pay attention to it. It's a crime against Journalist ethics but sadly, it happens. It is not acceptable of course, because they report more than the truth and this leads to confusion and lies. It is better to listen, read or watch on-the-spot news because there is little chance for journalists to twist facts. Cheers.
31 Jul 11
the media reacts to what the public wants. i think we can not solely blame the media for this. the public gets what it wants when people buy the stories and news in the current forms. i think the blogging world is influencing a bit in the way the stories are told. blogs present a good alternative as a source of information. that's why most newspapers include blogs in their websites. people should blog of the good things happening and tell the story as it happens, accurately. the media is being challenged by blogs in this way.