Sensationalism is a type of editorial bias in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieces are overhyped to present biased impressions on events, which may cause a manipulation to the truth of a story.[1] Sensationalism may have reporting about generally insignificant matters and events that do not influence overall society and biased presentations of newsworthy topics in a trivial or tabloid manner contrary to the standards of professional journalism.[2][3]

Some tactics include being deliberately obtuse,[4] appealing to emotions,[5] being controversial, intentionally omitting facts and information,[6] being loud and self-centered, and acting to obtain attention.[5] Trivial information and events are sometimes misrepresented and exaggerated as important or significant and often include stories about the actions of individuals and small groups of people,[1] the content of which is often insignificant and irrelevant relative to the macro-level day-to-day events that occur globally. Furthermore, the content and subject matter typically affect neither the lives of the masses[1] nor society and instead is broadcast and printed to attract viewers and readers.[1] Examples include press coverage about the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal,[1][7][8] Casey Anthony Trial,[1][9] Tonya Harding's role in the attack of Nancy Kerrigan,[1][10] the Elian Gonzalez affair[1][11] and the O.J. Simpson murder case.[1][12]


In A History of News, author Mitchell Stephens (professor of journalism and mass communication at New York University)[2] notes sensationalism can be found in the Ancient Roman Acta Diurna (official notices and announcements which were presented daily on public message boards, the perceived content of which spread with enthusiasm in illiterate societies).[2] Sensationalism was used in books of the 16th and 17th century, to teach moral lessons. According to Stevens, sensationalism brought the news to a new audience when it became aimed at the lower class, who had less of a need to accurately understand politics and the economy, to occupy them in other matters. Through sensationalism, he claims, the audience was further educated and encouraged to take more interest in the news.[2] The more modern forms of sensationalism developed in the course of the nineteenth century in parallel with the expansion of print culture in industrialized nations. A genre of British literature, "sensation novels," became in the 1860s the best example of how the publishing industry could capitalize on a rhetoric made of surprising turns in the narrative to market serialized fiction in the expanded market of the periodical press. The London magazine "Belgravia" edited by the popular author of sensation novels Mary Elizabeth Braddon between 1867 and 1876 offered one of the earliest theories of modernity and its “shock value” mediated by sensationalism. The attention-grasping rhetorical techniques found in sensation fiction were also employed in articles on science, modern technology, finance, and in historical accounts of contemporary events, as discussed by Alberto Gabriele in Reading Popular Culture in Victorian Print.[13] The collection of essays Sensationalism and the Genealogy of Modernity: a Global Nineteenth Century Perspective edited by Alberto Gabriele is also helpful to track the transhistorical presence of sensationalism in several national contexts in the course of the long nineteenth century. Scholars in the collection engage in an interdisciplinary discussion on popular culture, literature, performance, art history, theory, pre-cinema and early cinema.[14]

In mass media

One presumed goal of sensational reporting is to increase or sustain viewership or readership, from which media outlets can price their advertising higher to increase their profits based on higher numbers of viewers and/or readers.[15][16] Sometimes this can lead to a lesser focus on objective journalism in favor of a profit motive,[17] in which editorial choices are based upon sensational stories and presentations to increase advertising revenue.[17] Additionally, advertisers tend to have a preference for their products or services to be reported positively in mass media, which can contribute to bias in news reporting in favor of media outlets protecting their profits and revenues, rather than reporting objectively about stated products and services.[16][18]

However, newspapers have a duty to report and investigate stories related to political corruption. Such investigative journalism is right and proper when it is backed up with documents, interviews with responsible witnesses, and other primary sources. Journalists and editors are often accused of sensationalizing scandals by those whose public image is harmed by the legitimate reporting of the scandal. News organizations are not obliged to (and are often ethically obliged not to) avoid stories that might make local, state and national public figures uncomfortable. Occasionally, news organizations mistakenly relay false information from unreliable anonymous sources, who use mass media as a tool for retaliation, defamation, victim and witness tampering, and monetary or personal gain. Therefore, any story based on sources who may be reasonably assumed to be motivated to act in this way is best interpreted with critical thinking.

In extreme cases, mass media may report only information that makes a "good story" without regard for factual accuracy or social relevance. It has been argued that the distrust in government that arose in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal created a new business tactic for the media and resulted in the spread of negative, dishonest and misleading news coverage of American politics;[17][19] such examples include the labeling of a large number of political scandals, regardless of their importance, with the suffix "-gate".[19] Such stories are often perceived (rightly or wrongly) as politically partisan or biased towards or against a group or individual because of 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. It may include sensational aspects such as zealots, 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 the elements needed (such as pertinent background, investigative, or contextual information) for the audience to form its own opinions on the subject.

In broadcasting

Sensationalism is often blamed for the infotainment style of many news programs on radio and television.[2] According to sociologist John Thompson, the debate of sensationalism used in the mass medium of broadcasting is based on a misunderstanding of its audience, especially the television audience. Thompson explains that the term 'mass' (which is connected to broadcasting) suggests a 'vast audience of many thousands, even millions of passive individuals'.[3] Television news is restricted to showing the scenes of crimes rather than the crime itself because of the unpredictability of events, whereas newspaper writers can always recall what they did not witness.[2] Television news writers have room for fewer words than their newspaper counterparts. Their stories are measured in seconds, not column inches, and thus (even with footage) television stories are inherently shallower than most newspaper stories, using shorter words and familiar idioms to express ideas which a newspaper writer is more free to expand upon and define with precision.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Issue Area: Sensationalism." Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting. Accessed June 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Stephens, Mitchell (2007). A History of News. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-518991-9.
  3. ^ a b Thompson, John (June 22, 1999). "The Media and Modernity". In Mackay, Hugh; O'Sullivan, Tim (eds.). The Media Reader: Continuity and Transformation. Sage Publications Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7619-6250-2.
  4. ^ "Sensationalism." Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Accessed June 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Sensationalism." Accessed June 2011.
  6. ^ "Issue Area: Narrow Range of Debate." Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. Accessed June 2011.
  7. ^ The Epoch of Clinton, So Close Yet So Far Accessed September 2012
  8. ^ Monica Lewinsky back in spotlight with PBS' two-part 'Clinton'. Accessed September 2012
  9. ^ Casey Anthony trial: Media frenzy at new heights Accessed 2012
  10. ^ Incredible news: tabloids meet news. (tabloid news sensationalism) Incredible news: tabloids meet news. (tabloid news sensationalism) Accessed September 2012
  11. ^ Elian Gonzalez and "The Purpose of America": Nation, Family, and the Child-Citizen September 2012
  12. ^ The Five Hardest Lessons from the O.J. Trial Accessed September 2012
  13. ^ Alberto Gabriele, Reading Popular Culture in Victorian Print: Belgravia and Sensationalism, New York and London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009 ISBN 978-0-230-61521-2
  14. ^ Alberto Gabriele, ed. Sensationalism and the Genealogy of Modernity: a Global Nineteenth Century Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan, 2016 ISBN 978-1-137-60128-5
  15. ^ "What's Wrong With The News?" Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. Accessed June 2011.
  16. ^ a b "Issue Area: Advertiser Influence." Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. Accessed June 2011.
  17. ^ a b c Sensationalism, Newspaper Profits and the Marginal Value of Watergate Accessed September 2012
  18. ^ "Issue Area: Censorship." Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. Accessed June 2011.
  19. ^ a b Watergate scandal changed the political landscape forever Accessed September 2012

External links

24-hour news cycle

The 24-hour news cycle (or 24/7 news cycle) is 24-hour investigation and reporting of news, concomitant with fast-paced lifestyles. The vast news resources available in recent decades have increased competition for audience and advertiser attention, prompting media providers to deliver the latest news in the most compelling manner in order to remain ahead of competitors. Television-, radio-, print-, online- and mobile app news media all have many suppliers that want to be relevant to their audiences and deliver news first.

Although all-news radio operated for decades earlier, the 24-hour news cycle arrived with the advent of cable television channels dedicated to news and brought about a much faster pace of news production with an increased demand for stories that could be presented as continual news with constant updating. This was a contrast with the day-by-day pace of the news cycle of printed daily newspapers. A high premium on faster reporting would see a further increase with the advent of online news.A complete news cycle consists of the media reporting on some event, followed by the media reporting on public and other reactions to the earlier reports. The advent of 24-hour cable cable- and satellite television news channels and, in more recent times, of news sources on the World Wide Web (including blogs), considerably shortened this process.

Bagel head

Bagel head is a type of body modification pioneered in Canada and practiced in the Japanese underground scene. It is a temporary (6-to 24-hour) swelling distortion of the forehead created by a saline drip and often shaped to resemble a bagel or doughnut. In 2012, after appearing on a National Geographic TV special, this practice became the subject of sensationalism as news outlets worldwide misleadingly declared it a "Japan trend".


Bias is disproportionate weight in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

Biases can be learned implicitly within cultural contexts. People may develop biases toward or against an individual, an ethnic group, a sexual or gender identity, a nation, a religion, a social class, a political party, theoretical paradigms and ideologies within academic domains, or a species. Biased means one-sided, lacking a neutral viewpoint, or not having an open mind. Bias can come in many forms and is related to prejudice and intuition.In science and engineering, a bias is a systematic error. Statistical bias results from an unfair sampling of a population, or from an estimation process that does not give accurate results on average.


The Bild newspaper (or Bild-Zeitung, literally Picture; [ˈbɪlt]) is a German tabloid published by Axel Springer AG. The paper is published from Monday to Saturday; on Sundays, its sister paper Bild am Sonntag ("Bild on Sunday") is published instead, which has a different style and its own editors. Bild is tabloid in style but broadsheet in size. It is the best-selling European newspaper and has the sixteenth-largest circulation worldwide. Bild has been described as "notorious for its mix of gossip, inflammatory language, and sensationalism" and as having a huge influence on German politicians. Its nearest English-language stylistic and journalistic equivalent is often considered to be the British national newspaper The Sun, the second highest selling European tabloid newspaper, with which it shares a degree of rivalry.Der Spiegel wrote in 2006 that Bild "flies just under the nonsense threshold of American and British tabloids ... For the German desperate, it is a daily dose of high-resolution soft porn". According to The Guardian, for 28 years from 1984 to 2012, Bild had topless women featuring on its first page; the paper published more than 5,000 topless pictures.

Dirty Laundry (Don Henley song)

"Dirty Laundry" is a hit song written by Don Henley and Danny Kortchmar, from Henley's Gold-plus debut solo album I Can't Stand Still, released in 1982. The song hit #1 on the Billboard Top Album Tracks chart in October 1982, prior to being issued as a 45. Lyrically, the song describes mass media sensationalism and yellow journalism.

Released as the second single from I Can't Stand Still, it spent three weeks at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1983. The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, representing sales of over 500,000 records in the US.

False balance

False balance, also bothsidesism, is a media bias in which journalists present an issue as being more balanced between opposing viewpoints than the evidence supports. Journalists may present evidence and arguments out of proportion to the actual evidence for each side, or may omit information that would establish one side's claims as baseless.

Examples of false balance in reporting on science issues include the topics of man-made versus natural climate change, the alleged relation between thimerosal and autism and evolution versus intelligent design.False balance can sometimes originate from similar motives as sensationalism, where producers and editors may feel that a story portrayed as a contentious debate will be more commercially successful than a more accurate account of the issue. However, unlike most other media biases, false balance may stem from an attempt to avoid bias; producers and editors may confuse treating competing views fairly—i.e., in proportion to their actual merits and significance—with treating them equally, giving them equal time to present their views even when those views may be known beforehand to be based on false information.

Gentleman Junkie and Other Stories of the Hung-Up Generation

Gentleman Junkie and Other Stories of the Hung-Up Generation is an early collection of short stories by Harlan Ellison, originally published in paperback in 1961. Most of the stories were written while Ellison was a draftee in the United States army between 1957 and 1959. These were sold to Rogue Magazine, a pulp fiction magazine of the era. Other stories in the collection had appeared previously in publications ranging from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine to a Chicago weekly newspaper.

Gentleman Junkie... is different from many of Ellison's subsequent short story collections in that none of the stories are in the speculative fiction genre. The stories provide social commentary on racial discrimination, bigotry, and other forms of injustice prevalent in United States during the 1950s. In particular, 'Daniel White for the Greater Good' and 'The Night of Delicate Terrors' depict the plight of African Americans prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Other stories also deal with oppression and injustice. 'Free With This Box' is based on an occurrence in Ellison's childhood and describes abuse of power by police.

Dorothy Parker famously gave it a good review, saying Ellison was "a good, honest, clean writer, putting down what he has seen and known, and no sensationalism about it." Ellison has since stated that the positive review from such a prominent literary figure changed his life and gave him a sense of validation as an author.

List of newspapers in Hungary

The number of national daily newspapers in Hungary was 21 in 1950 and it increased to 40 in 1965. In 1986 the Press Act became effective, regulating the newspaper market in the country. Following the collapse of the communist regime the act was revised in January 1990.This is a list of Hungarian newspapers and other papers, online newspapers and portals as well.

List of newspapers in Serbia

This is a list of newspapers in Serbia.

Miami Modern architecture

Miami Modernist architecture, or MiMo, is a regional style of architecture that developed in South Florida during the post-war period. The style was internationally recognized as a regionalist response to the International Style. It can be seen in most of the larger Miami and Miami Beach resorts built after the Great Depression. Because MiMo styling was a not just a response to international architectural movements but also to client demands, themes of glamour, fun, and material excess were added to otherwise stark, minimalist, and efficient styles of the era. The style can be most observed today in Middle and Upper Miami Beach along Collins Avenue, as well as along the Biscayne Boulevard corridor starting from around Midtown, through the Design District and into the Upper Eastside.

The term MiMo has only recently been associated with the style. Popularity of the term is credited to Miami Beach resident Randall C. Robinson and interior designer Teri D'Amico. Principal examples of MiMo include the Fontainebleau Hotel, Eden Roc, Seacoast Towers, Deauville, and Di Lido hotels by famed architect Morris Lapidus; Norman Giller's Carillon Hotel, which was voted Miami Beach's "Hotel of the Year" in 1959; and the original Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida.

To some degree, Miami developed the style through the work of younger architects immediately after the war; they were more closely aligned with media promotions and sensationalism than older architects of the era. The region successfully transposed its extravagant resort styling to a national audience easily captivated by the area’s relative exoticism.The area along Biscayne Boulevard is now the designated "MiMo Biscayne Boulevard Historic District" or more uniquely named "MiMo on BiBo", for "Miami Modern on Biscayne Boulevard". MiMo Historic District runs roughly from 50th Street to 77th Street along Biscayne Boulevard, although MiMo can be found in the Design District and Midtown. Many annual festivals are held to promote MiMo architecture, such as "Cinco de MiMo" a play on "Cinco de Mayo" in early May. The area is bounded by the Little River to the north, Bay Point Estates to the south, the Florida East Coast Railway to the west, and Biscayne Bay to the east.The name is an acronym for Miami Modern Architecture. There are many examples of the architecture within the district.


Paparazzi (US: , UK: ; Italian: [papaˈrattsi]; singular: masculine paparazzo or feminine paparazza) are independent photographers who take pictures of high-profile people, such as athletes, entertainers, politicians, and other celebrities, typically while subjects go about their usual life routines. Paparazzi tend to make a living by selling their photographs to media outlets that focus on tabloid journalism and sensationalism (such as gossip magazines).

Paul Reynolds (RTÉ journalist)

Paul Reynolds is RTÉ's Crime Correspondent.Reynolds has been on RTÉ's main news programmes, in both television and radio, almost daily for over a decade. He joined RTÉ in 1991 at the same time as Mark Little, Rachael English and Sean Whelan. In June 2009, he won the Political and Current Affairs Journalist of The Year from Irish National Media Awards.In June 2011, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, a solicitor, said Reynolds had "great difficulty in accurately reporting" and he "constantly and consistently engages in tabloid sensationalism of the worst kind and frequently gets it very wrong".His brother is Gerry Reynolds, also of RTÉ.

Red Pepper (newspaper)

Red Pepper is a daily tabloid newspaper in Uganda that began publication on 19 June 2001. Mirroring tabloid styles in other countries, the paper is known for its mix of sensationalism, scandal, and frequent nudity. The paper has received the ire of the Ugandan government for publishing conspiracy theories relating to the death of Sudan's Vice President John Garang in a helicopter crash and revealing that former foreign minister James Wapakhabulo died of AIDS.In August 2006, Red Pepper published the first names and occupations of prominent Ugandan men whom it asserted were gay. This decision was sharply criticized by Human Rights Watch, which said that the publishing could have exposed the men to government harassment because homosexuality in Uganda remained illegal. The following month, Red Pepper published a similar list of 13 women whom it claimed were lesbians.In an interview published in May 2009, the news editor of Red Pepper, Ben Byarabaha, vowed that the tabloid would continue its campaign against alleged homosexuals by publishing their names, photographs, and addresses.In September 2012, the newspaper was sued about its published nude photo of an herbalist.

Revolutionary Black Panther Party

The Revolutionary Black Panther Party or RBPP is a revolutionary pan-Africanist organization, advocating for black nationalism. The Revolutionary Black Panther Party, claims continuity of the Black Panther Party of the 1960s, as their leader Dr. Alli Muhammad MS, PhD, MD (title, Chief-General-In-Command), was raised a member. In 1992 the RBPP was officially named and has been carrying on with its started aims of "protecting and defending our people against genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, the Black African Holocaust and race war waged against people of African descent."

Its stated "military mission" is to Feed, clothe, shelter, train and defend the people. Currently, the RBPP has over 20 social and community programs throughout the United States and around the world e.g. Free Breakfast Programs, Medical Programs, Health clinics, Political Education, Schools, Family Stability programs, Domestic Violence Prevention, Substance Abuse programs, Child Abuse programs, Nutrition, Community Cleanup, Self-Defense and many other programs.

The RBPP patterns itself as the Party of action, proactivity and results, instead of rhetoric, rabble-rousing and sensationalism.

Silvester Bolam

Silvester Bolam (23 October 1905 – 27 April 1953) was a British newspaper editor.

Born in Tynemouth, Northumberland, Bolam studied at the University of Durham's Armstrong College before joining the Newcastle Journal. He then moved to work for the News Chronicle, and in 1936 became a sub-editor on the Daily Mirror. Although he left in 1938 to rejoin the News Chronicle, he returned ten months later, and in 1948 became the newspaper's editor.As editor, Bolam focused on a strategy of sensationalism, and was able to make the Mirror Britain's best-selling daily newspaper. In 1949, he was convicted of publishing material which might have prejudiced the trial of John George Haigh (later convicted of murder), and was jailed for three months. By 1953, he had fallen out with the paper's editorial director and resigned. He died a few months later.

Sound bite

A sound bite is a short clip of speech or music extracted from a longer piece of audio, often used to promote or exemplify the full length piece. In the context of journalism, a sound bite is characterized by a short phrase or sentence that captures the essence of what the speaker was trying to say, and is used to summarize information and entice the reader or viewer. The term was coined by the U.S. media in the 1970s. Since then, politicians have increasingly employed sound bites to summarize their positions.

Due to its brevity, the sound bite often overshadows the broader context in which it was spoken, and can be misleading or inaccurate. The insertion of sound bites into news broadcasts or documentaries is open to manipulation, leading to conflict over journalistic ethics.

The Post (British newspaper)

The Post was a national tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom, owned by Eddy Shah's Messenger Group. It ran for only five weeks in November and December 1988. As the first national newspaper to be both conceived and composed by journalists, The Post dedicated itself to being sensationalism-free, a bit of a departure for British tabloids of that period. During its short life The Post had the most advanced production techniques devised (which were project-managed and implemented by Bryan Dean and Graham Binns). The paper never found a consistent editorial voice or audience, and folded due to financial pressures just five weeks after starting up.

Waqt News

Waqt News is a Pakistani TV news channel owned by Nawa-i-Waqt media group founded by Hameed Nizami. It was launched in early 2007 in Pakistan. Nawa-i-Waqt is considered to be one of the most vocal media groups in Pakistan.Waqt News is affiliated with the Nawa-i-Waqt media group and joins the long list of TV news channels already functioning in Pakistan.According to a source that reviews international TV news channels, "The influential print and electronic media group is long been cited as one having critical appearance and importance in the media houses of the country. The news correspondent network of the channel is one of the largest in the country. The sensationalism and rating-oriented approach has always been a journalistic taboo for the flag bearers of Waqt."In November 2009, news managers from many TV channels in Pakistan worked out the informal, self-applied guidelines for covering news about terrorism. These voluntary guidelines have been endorsed by most TV networks in Pakistan including Waqt News.In February 2016, a confrontation between the police and the journalists was described by a major newspaper in Karachi in an article, where a Waqt News correspondent was also roughed up.

Yellow journalism

Yellow journalism and the yellow press are American terms for journalism and associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.In English, the term is chiefly used in the US. In the UK, a roughly equivalent term is tabloid journalism, meaning journalism characteristic of tabloid newspapers, even if found elsewhere. Other languages, e.g. Russian (Жёлтая пресса), sometimes have terms derived from the American term. A common source of such writing is called checkbook journalism, which is the controversial practice of news reporters paying sources for their information without verifying its truth or accuracy. In the U.S. it is generally considered unethical, with most mainstream newspapers and news shows having a policy forbidding it. In contrast, tabloid newspapers and tabloid television shows, which rely more on sensationalism, regularly engage in the practice.

In academia
News media
Political campaigning
Psychological warfare
Public relations

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.