The Problems Facing The Media of Today

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Unbiased, informative news is under threat.

Samuel Boulos, News Writer

     The news is a vital part of having knowledge about global events in this day and age. It is where we get the majority of our information on what is going on with Government, global crises such as the Coronavirus and global warming, and more. Therefore, It is dangerous when the news is unreliable in any sense. This unreliability takes many forms such as exaggeration, clickbait and the personal biases of those who own the news companies or the biases of the reporters. Ideally, the integrity of the story should not be compromised for any reason such as ratings or biases. Especially today, it is important to be as accurate as possible with information so that the consumers are not confused and untrusting of the news. Media sensationalism is a problem because it makes people skeptical of the news and harms productive conversations. 

     Sensationalism existed long before there were modern news outlets and comes from humans being drawn to “exciting” topics such as violence and sex. Sensationalism is when your friend is telling you a story and likely highlights or exaggerates the exciting parts. This concept of sensationalism is brought to a whole new extent in the news. It is an instinct for many to click when reading an exciting advertisement for a news story such as “Worst Tornado Seen by Mankind.” This is considered “clickbait,” which means that somebody made the article title or advertisement much more exciting than the actual information in the article. Clickbait is a common thing and many people fall for it all the time. Junior Teddy Devoll stated, “Sometimes I fall for clickbait because the article title can be misleading, or the cover photo could be misleading, but most times I would find the stuff that I’m looking for when I want to find it.” Junior Slade Baldwin also said that “I do feel that the news is exaggerated.” High school chemistry teacher Sarah O’Brien echoed this statement saying, “ I feel that headlines, for example, are purposefully attention-grabbing and consequently misleading.” This shows a general sense of distrust in the news that creates an unhealthy environment for understanding and trying to help solve important issues.

     Due to the media sensationalism, the news becomes more untrustworthy and malleable to the public. Recently people have been much more skeptical of the news due to its bias. There are even many charts (that do contain some biases themselves) that contains many news sources and places them based on their accuracy and whether they are more liberal or conservative. Most of these news sources lean toward one way and are not very reliable and the trend was that the more neutral the source, the more accurate it is. This plays into media sensationalism because often when an article is sensationalized, the political preferences of the outlet or the journalist influence the way in which the article is exaggerated. Additionally, this makes it so that people can brush off news stories as “fake” or “unreliable” with no backup in arguments that can ruin healthy conversations about important topics. This is a major issue because conversations are key to understanding one another and working together towards a better future.

     It is vital that the public can trust the news that they consume. However, as media sensationalism grows and the need for clicks begins to outweigh the importance of intelligent, informative, unbiased reporting, the news that matters most is at risk of going unnoticed and unattended. It is important to understand media sensationalism so that it can be avoided and combatted. Only if these steps are taken will the integrity of journalism survive.