A reporter needs to avoid sensationalism in his or her story to gain attention from the media. Although a reporter’s job is susceptible to the press, traits of sensationalism breed biased stories that eventually lead to lies and manipulation of readers or viewers, stirring reactions and provoking thoughts.
It has long been a disturbing dilemma of reporter’s genuine sense of fair reporting or inappropriate desire to make money even at the expense of misleading the media. Quite Disturbing!
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How Can A Reporter Avoid Sensationalism?
It is almost impractical to avoid sensationalism entirely. However, there are techniques for curbing it while still giving the media exciting and profitable content.
Some of these techniques include:
Avoid Sensationalism Via Social Media.
Social media has much misleading news for clout and marketing. Therefore, it would not be wise for a reporter to get information from social media. Reporters have to beware of what they read on social media and avoid allowing it to influence what they give to the press.
Do Your Own (DYO) Research.
The importance of doing your research cannot be overemphasized. You can not take any news from the internet and give it to the media.
You will entirely be held responsible for any form of sensationalism in that story. So if you see a report or ‘fact’ mentioned in a story, and that information is valuable, and you have some time, do your research to confirm its credibility and avoid sensationalism.
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The principle and impartiality apply to the way a journalist writes about a particular subject and the way she behaves in public. A reporter should be intentional and impartial and also convey a picture of these qualities to avoid sensationalism. You do not want to say something and act in a different light.
Use The Inverted Pyramid Style.
One standard method used by reporters is the inverted pyramid. This style needs to be thoughtful and includes editing the story so that the essential details are written first to be easily read.
The story’s basic facts are usually based on who, what, when, where, and why. They appear at the top of the lead section, with less ambiguous information in the following areas. The style emerged as a telegraph product.
The distorted pyramid proved helpful when the telegraph connection failed during transmission; the editor still had vital information in the beginning.
The reason for such writing is threefold. First of all, style is helpful for writers, as this type of reporting is easy to complete in the short term, set by journalists, especially in today’s fast-paced news business.
Second, the style benefits editors who can, if necessary, cut the story from the ground up without losing important information. Finally, the style remembers traditional readers, most of whom read-only articles or read only a few paragraphs but can still learn a lot of important information in this reading quickly.
Be Conscious Of How Often You Read The News.
Many news can distort your direction of reasoning. It would be best to check the news once or twice a day when you’re in a sound mind to meditate on them. Try this for a few days, and then see if you notice a difference in how you feel.
So much news can stir so many thoughts which can be contradictory. It can lead to an unintentional form of sensationalism in your story.
Carefully Select Credible Sources.
There are many sources of information on the internet. To have credible stories, you must have a few credible sources of information that offer legitimate, confirmed, more in-depth, and balanced coverage. Look for renowned experts offering informed opinions. It would be best high class as they would not want to tarnish the reputation they have built over a couple of years.
Pay Attention To Criticism
Criticism can either be constructive or destructive. However, they both have something in common; your mistakes, which means sensationalism in this article.
The only difference between both types of criticism is that the destructive criticism hopes that you fail, so they exaggerate your mistakes.
Sometimes, it would be wise to pay attention to a destructive critic as they show no mercy in exposing your mistakes since the constructive critic has some love and respect for you. They might find it unkind to tell you the intensity of your mistake, in this case, sensationalism.
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Avoid Blowing Facts Off Proportion.
It is vital to express facts at their level of intensity. When you use ‘intensive’ words, it can lead to sensationalism which can put a story on a higher pedestal than it is. As much as you want to grab the media’s attention, you do not wish to force wrong emotions from them.
Implications Of Sensationalism In A Reporter’s Story
Reporters know that if their story does not excite a viewer, the reporters involved are financially hurt. It sometimes pressures them to come up with an exciting story.
Sensationalism is deeply rooted in our society. It will always have a complex relationship between the people who use the content and those who produce it. Our best way is to recognize this content and try to identify the lies presented to us.
As reporters, it is their job to convey the truth to the public and not deceive them with their stories. But unfortunately, sensationalism violates many moral guidelines in favor of these tactics.
It becomes even more worrying when journalists act without all the facts.
Sensationalism also raises concerns about the moral conflict with the reporters’ honor code—the extreme environment conflicts with the reporters’ honest and impartial work.
The thing about sensationalism is that it works.
One of their best tactics in favor of emotion is news headlines. If you look at a magazine or website and see those big words in bold, they are attracting your attention.
The media and the media know that news headlines attract readers, so they use this to their advantage. Many times news headlines include an exaggerated display of events. They can beat the most common thing out of proportion with the right words.
Anger is the act of deliberately playing with fear of others to arouse fear or anger – another exciting tactic. The media will capture the fears of others to see their content.
Reporters should do all they can to avoid sensationalism in their stories.