According to the Encarta Dictionary, English North American Version, Journalism is a noun, and is the profession of gathering, editing, and publishing new reports and related articles for newspapers, magazine, television or radio.
Using the same reference, we find that Sensationalism, on the other hand, is the practice of emphasizing the most lurid, shocking and emotive aspects of something under discussion or investigation, especially by the media.
These two definitions are the basis of my thoughts today.
We live in an era where the “news” is everywhere we turn. It is on the radio; it is on the television; it is on our computers, iPads, iPhones, Kindles, or any one of the other devices we carry. The only problem is that this “news” is reported in many different ways.
Some media like to spread the news like the farmer spreads fertilizer. The intent here is to plant a seed and watch it grow. It doesn’t make any difference to the person reporting it whether it is true, has been investigated thoroughly, or is just idle gossip. If that particular media agent feels it is going to generate money for the media outlet, that is apparently all that counts. It could also have a domino effect and generate some unfortunate incident caused directly from their improper reporting..
Other media only write or talk about subjects they feel will benefit them. Our political system is like that. It doesn’t make any difference what party you are a part of, you can find information that makes you feel good about your decisions, regardless of their authenticity.
We are all guilty of bad reporting, from time to time. What? You say you don’t think you are? Well, perhaps you are perfect, although I have yet to meet a perfect person.
Here is an example of bad reporting by good people.
The other day a friend called to get additional information about a party to be given by a mutual friend. I had no idea what the caller was talking about. When the caller found I had no knowledge of the party, he became concerned that my feelings were hurt since I apparently had not been invited. As it turned out, this party was barely into the planning stage, and was just conversation between two acquaintances.
Information comes from all kinds of sources. It is our responsibility to check not only the sources, but also the content of that information. I lead the pack in getting busy, half-reading something that fits my thinking at the time, and sending it out, only to discover later what a fool I was for not checking it out first.
The next time you hear something, or you read something, or you see it on your special device or television set, check it out before passing it on. Be sure it is Journalism and not Sensationalism.