Journalism is an art form like abstinence is a sex position.
We’ve all read it – that headline that promises more intrigue and drama than the entire year’s 7de Laan combined. And we’ve all been disappointed by said headline’s accompanying article. “10 Smeared Across Road” we later find out is an unremarkable, yet tragic, accident where there happened to be some blood on the road.
Why do we get angry when what we’re promised turns out to not be as intense or riveting? Is it because the media lied to us? Or put more accurately, ‘enhanced’ the truth? Or is it because we were secretly hoping for that headline to be, in fact, the truth? Two sides of the same coin, maybe, but wildly disparate implications.
But that’s a conversation for another day. Sensationalism exists, and it gets on our nerves. Both facts I’m sure most will agree to. But why is it here? Shouldn’t our news outlets report the truth, and just the plain old truth?
Bear with me for a second here.
Like everything, news companies are businesses, more often than not aimed towards making a profit. At the rise of the newspaper industry, it was novel to read about the events of a neighbouring town. Today, it’s absurd not to read about the lives of billions of people all around the world. The amount of information that trickles down our news feed is overwhelming. So what’s a journalist to do so their product stands out more? Sensationalize.
Back to that coin, and the side which I believe is what irks us: we feed off depravity. Whether we approve of it or not is not the point. Whether we actually enjoy reading it or not is up for debate. But it’s blatant that the more shocking the news, the more likely we will read it.
So how does this save your life? Let me put it this way, without sensationalism, you’d be left with a very empty view of the world. Do you ever read something that doesn’t look appealing? Like food, clothes and electronics, appeal factors in a lot whether we consume something or not.
A news agency has two main businesses – publishing news, and marketing. And in a consumerist environment, marketing is the magic tape that holds everything together. We don’t know what we want. We don’t know what we need. Same is true for news. We don’t know what we want to read. We are told.
Without sensationalism, we’d be left with nothing to read. Our need for depravity dictates it. And from the business side, it’s the news agencies’ best tool to market themselves without detracting from marketing other products. It’s brilliant. Journalism isn’t art. Sensationalism is.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.