Sensationalism

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Sensationalism refers to the use of sensational subject matter, style or methods, or the sensational subject matter itself; behavior, published materials, or broadcasts that are intentionally controversial, exaggerated, lurid, loud, or attention-grabbing. Especially applied to news media in a pejorative sense that they are reporting in a manner to gain audience or notoriety but at the expense of accuracy and professionalism. Sensationalism could thus be a type of editorial bias in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieces are over-hyped to increase viewership or readership numbers. It is also a a theory of philosophy that all knowledge is ultimately derived from the senses.

Quotes[edit]

  • He was after a sensational story and this, of course, could not be constructed out of mere truth; not out of officially released truth, anyway. It was essential that the news-reading public should feel, first, that the community was in danger and secondly that people—well-off people, “official” people—who ought to have known better, were to blame for it.
Sensationalism, in epistemology and psychology, a form of Empiricism that limits experience as a source of knowledge to sensation or sense perceptions. Sensationalism is a consequence of the notion of the mind as a tabula rasa, or “clean slate.” ...
  • Sensationalism, in epistemology and psychology, a form of Empiricism that limits experience as a source of knowledge to sensation or sense perceptions. Sensationalism is a consequence of the notion of the mind as a tabula rasa, or “clean slate.” In ancient Greek philosophy, the Cyrenaics, proponents of a pleasure ethic, subscribed unreservedly to a sensationalist doctrine. The medieval Scholastics’ maxim that “there is nothing in the mind but what was previously in the senses” must be understood with Aristotelian reservations that sense data are converted into concepts… All our faculties come from the senses or . . . more precisely, from sensations; that our sensations are not the very qualities of objects [but] only modifications of our soul.
    • The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica in: sensationalism, Encyclopædia Britannica
  • Of real sensational journalism, as it exists in France, in Ireland, and in America, we have no trace in this country. When a journalist in Ireland wishes to create a thrill, he creates a thrill worth talking about. He denounces a leading Irish member for corruption, or he charges the whole police system with a wicked and definite conspiracy. When a French journalist desires a frisson there is a frisson; he discovers, let us say, that the President of the Republic has murdered three wives. Our yellow journalists invent quite as unscrupulously as this; their moral condition is, as regards careful veracity, about the same. But it is their mental calibre which happens to be such that they can only invent calm and even reassuring things. The fictitious version of the massacre of the envoys of Peking was mendacious, but it was not interesting, except to those who had private reasons for terror or sorrow. It was not connected with any bold and suggestive view of the Chinese situation. It revealed only a vague idea that nothing could be impressive except a great deal of blood. Real sensationalism, of which I happen to be very fond, may be either moral or immoral. But even when it is most immoral, it requires moral courage. For it is one of the most dangerous things on earth genuinely to surprise anybody. If you make any sentient creature jump, you render it by no means improbable that it will jump on you. But the leaders of this movement have no moral courage or immoral courage; their whole method consists in saying, with large and elaborate emphasis, the things which everybody else says casually, and without remembering what they have said. When they brace themselves up to attack anything, they never reach the point of attacking anything which is large and real, and would resound with the shock. They do not attack the army as men do in France, or the judges as men do in Ireland, or the democracy itself as men did in England a hundred years ago. They attack something like the War Office--something, that is, which everybody attacks and nobody bothers to defend, something which is an old joke in fourth-rate comic papers, just as a man shows he has a weak voice by straining it to shout as they show the hopelessly unsensational nature of their minds when they really try to be sensational.
  • Perhaps MacKinnon should reflect on these suggestions that the censorship issue is not so simple-minded, so transparently gender-against-gender, as she insists. She should stop calling names long enough to ask whether personal sensationalism, hyperbole, and bad arguments are really what the cause of sexual equality now needs.
  • Having adopted the Bible as our only Rule of Faith and Practice, and having ascertained that it is both the Doctrine and Practice of the Bible to expose vice and sin, and having also ascertained that licentiousness, which is one of the most flagrant and abominable of all vices, is not recognized by the Bible as an exception to the general rule of exposing vice and sin–It necessarily follows, That It Is Our Duty To Expose Licentiousness.
    • Reverend J. R. McDowall in: WORLD Magazine "McDowall's Defense of Biblical Sensationalism"
Those who dumb down the news, trivialize the news with in-studio shouting matches passing for debate, those who tart up the news with celebrity gossip, scandal and sensationalism are playing right into the hands of those that stand to gain the most from the news being seen as irrelevant and trivial and no more or less worth your attention than the next episode of ‘American Idol'... -Dan Rather.
  • Those who dumb down the news, trivialize the news with in-studio shouting matches passing for debate, those who tart up the news with celebrity gossip, scandal and sensationalism are playing right into the hands of those that stand to gain the most from the news being seen as irrelevant and trivial and no more or less worth your attention than the next episode of ‘American Idol' ...I worry that if it becomes no more than a reality show, something that could be scripted and rigged behind the scenes without anyone really getting upset about it, that our freedom of the press will become another one of those constitutionally granted rights that can be watered down and eventually taken away from us.
Cartoon on stories of German soldiers impaling children on their bayonets - of whole families'; incidents of women and children being used as human shields during combat; 'numerous' cases of rape; and horrific examples of children being bayoneted by drunken German troops. The 'evidence' on which the committee based its allegations was, in many cases, extremely flimsy. - Bryce report
  • Some of the most lurid and sensational findings of the Bryce report on German 'atrocities' in Belgium concerned the alleged mistreatment of women and children. This extract recounts 'many well-established cases of the slaughter … of whole families'; incidents of women and children being used as human shields during combat; 'numerous' cases of rape; and horrific examples of children being bayoneted by drunken German troops. The 'evidence' on which the committee based its allegations was, in many cases, extremely flimsy.
As a United States Senator, I am not proud of the way in which the Senate has been made a publicity platform for irresponsible sensationalism... - Senator Margaret Chase Smith.
  • If at all, he was under any pressure or he was being coerced either obliquely, directly, implicitly that certain people be named and others deleted, was it not incumbent upon him to make it public at that point of time. Sensationalism formed the staple of his tenure', to debate the CAG reports at any forum of his choice. Vinod Rai was perhaps "saving these little nuggets of sensationalism for what is a post-retirement pension plan these days — that you write and create enough sensationalism around it...it would be my pleasure to demolish the findings which he had come to in his report so that the nation comes to know conclusively what really was the truth.

External links[edit]

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