Sensationalism and the Economics of News Media

Sensationalism in the media has a long and tumultuous history. Documented as far back as the late 1500s with news books and news ballads, into the “Penny Press” papers (cheap tabloid-style papers) of the 1830s, and now with tabloid news in contemporary times, sensational news coverage has a long tradition of attracting the attention of an interested public by packaging stories in particular ways. Although journalists and researchers have not settled on a single definition, as noted later, sensationalism is often equated with an exclusion of reporting accuracy (fewer opinion resources) and a lowered quality of information (less focus on topics of politics, education, health, or economics). Because the media business depends on ratings and circulation to remain viable, there is often a tendency ...

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