Sensationalism in the Media


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This is from Day 2 of "Putting Children in the Right," a training program I coordinated and taught in conjunction with UNICEF Belize and the Universit of the West Indies Open Campus, Belize. November 2011. Discusses resources for journalists, define sesnationalism, and provides examples.

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Sensationalism in the Media

  1. 1. UNICEF Belize &The University of the West Indies Open Campus, Belize
  2. 2. “Putting Children inthe Right” Guidelines for Journalists and Media Professionals (International Federation of Journalists)
  3. 3. IFJ Guidelines (page 63, Putting Children in the Right)
  4. 4. IFJ Guidelines
  5. 5. IFJ Guidelines
  6. 6. IFJ Guidelines
  7. 7. Resources In your folders: Handbook for media professionals Includes: data and information on children’s issues Includes storylines to explore in your coverage Checklist for ensuring balanced coverage (p. 20) Practicalities • Interviewing, taking photos
  8. 8. Sensationalism “Profit-driven news organizations are under great pressure to boost ratings by sensationalizing the news: focusing attention on lurid, highly emotional stories, often featuring a bizarre cast of characters and a gripping plot but devoid of significance to most peoples lives.” From “What’s Wrong with the News”
  9. 9. Sensationalism Definition (dictionary) subject matter, language or producing or designed to produce startling or thrilling impressions or to excite and please vulgar taste.
  10. 10. Sensationalism From “What’s Wrong with the News” “…editorial bias in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieces are over-hyped to increase viewership or readership numbers.” “…may include reporting about generally insignificant matters and events that dont influence overall society and biased presentations of newsworthy topics in a trivial or sensationalist manner.”
  11. 11. Sensationalism around theglobe USA “US Media Slammed Over Balloon Boy Coverage” (The Week UK) Video here Jamaica “To Mom With Love, Your Son Dudus” (Jamaica Observer)
  12. 12. Sensationalism around theglobe Hong Kong “Journalism or Sensationalism?” (
  13. 13. Belize examples Break into groups and critique articles Identify the kind of story Court or crime event (crime, violence, arrest, trial) Group event (meeting, conference, rally/protest, cultural or entertainment) Issue or theme Feature
  14. 14. Belize examples Checklist Is there a child in the story and is he or she named or otherwise identified? Does there appear to be a research component with accurate and proper attribution (data, statistics, other statements of fact) Which authorities are quoted and what information to they provide? Does the story help make sense of complicated issues? Does the story tend to promote understanding and compassion?