PHOTO | Tara Espinoza
It is breaking news! At least, that’s what all of the headlines are calling it. Is all of this news really so breaking, though? Or is it just yellow journalism?
Yellow journalism, according to Oxford, is journalism that is based on sensationalism and crude exaggeration. The hallmark of yellow journalism is the use of eye-catching headlines or modern-day “click-bait” in order to increase sales.
As a newspaper team, The Arka Tech is familiar with the techniques of yellow journalism. We, too, are guilty of making a sensational headline now and then. However, we have noticed a growing trend in yellow journalism over the last year.
This trend is not the same as the trend of click-bait produced by social media and web news, though it is correlated. This trend is one of sensational news being produced by big media outlets. These are outlets that are not your usual tabloid. We expect yellow journalism from tabloids. That is the whole point of tabloid journalism; because of that, it is easy to recognize a tabloid and know that all of the news in it is going to be exaggerated and untrustworthy.
The problem Arka Tech is seeing today is significant news sources like The Washington Post, Fox News, CNN and others using the same techniques as these tabloids. This is a problem for a few reasons.
Firstly, bigger news sources are trusted by their viewers to be informational and more trustworthy. They already have thousands of people who read their news. They should not resort to sensational headlines like a desperate small news company. This contributes to the already dire spread of misinformation.
This kind of journalism is also often fear-mongering. This means that it instills anxiety in society by exaggerating and misleading. Normal small problems suddenly become major issues. These things then become politicized, and divides are forged. There are often issues sensationalized in the media that are likely things that happen all the time. However, the media locks onto it and for a week, everyone is suddenly worried about foreign spies, secret documents, or somebody’s personal emails. Yet, once this week is over, everyone moves on and doesn’t care. It is as if it was never a serious problem in the first place, and it probably never was.
Another problem is that headlines and stories like these can distract from important issues. Humanitarian problems like natural disasters are pulled away from by things like celebrity weddings and congress scandals. Things that deserve the public’s attention get hidden behind dividing news stories that often don’t matter.
Yellow journalism has been a problem for a long time. There are many things that cause it and many more reasons why it is a problem. There may be a better way to stop the media from using these techniques. But we can educate ourselves and recognize when they use yellow journalism. The better we can decode the news we are reading and find what is really important, the better we can keep ourselves from falling victim to misinformation and sensationalism.