Sensationalism in the Media

Should i be worried?

One of the biggest problems with journalism and media today is making something bigger than it should be. We see it everywhere. It’s happened countless times where the media covers something so intensely that it even changes the outcome of the situation. Let’s take what is happening in Ferguson as an example. Governor Jay Nixon just recently announced a state of emergency in Missouri. Why is that? Why must he be so worried about the decision of the supreme court that he takes national safety precautions for this dilemma? Because the media has made it into something so big that people are becoming involved like never before.

One huge story that has been in the news over and over again is the outbreak of Ebola in the United States since late summer of 2014. The first article I chose is simply about a nurse who recently returned from Africa that is being tested for Ebola. The article is entirely dedicated to warning the public about another possible case of Ebola. Yet, that is just it, it is just another POSSIBLE case. The article even mentions the fact that the nurse is at a low risk for Ebola, but they continue to dedicate the entire post to the fact there is a risk of another case to worry more people about it.

That first article was published on the business journals for Saint Louis. The next article talks about the same nurse who is being tested for Ebola in Jefferson County. The reason I chose this one as well is because of their opening statement that reads; Does Missouri have it’s first case of Ebola? Of course everyone is going to want to know the answer to that. There’s no way anyone would ignore that lead sentence. What continues to boggle my mind is the fact that it was already announced once this article was released that the woman did in fact test negative for Ebola after all. Like the article just before it had said, the woman was a low risk because she was never in actual contact with anyone that had Ebola in Africa. She went into the hospital after running a fever and feeling muscle aches.

Yet, that is not it. Not even close. This same story was published in different forms on most news stations websites that cover Saint Louis. The final article is covered by KMOV stating all the same information but then adding the crucial piece of information that states the woman is still being kept in isolation after testing negative for Ebola.

So.. I shouldn’t worry?

It’s not that the situation isn’t a serious one because it is. Ebola is a very deadly virus that could potentially spread very quickly if not prepared for. Meanwhile, in Africa, Ebola is killing thousands and thousands of people because they don’t have the means to take care of such a deadly disease. That is where the lines get blurred. News stations across the nation are taking advantage of such a vulnerable story that has the potential to capture the emotion of people all around.

Jon Stewart summarizes the sensationalism perfectly during one of his shows during the initial outbreaks of Ebola in the United States. First he points out how most stations begin to freak out after the nurse who took care of the first man with Ebola in the States contracted Ebola. Many of the stations followed with questions like; how did she get Ebola and the CDC is still trying to figure out how she contracted the virus. Jon Stewart then slams those questions with reason I might add. Of course the nurse with Ebola got it from the man she was taking care of who had tested positive for the virus as well. It’s not rocket science actually, it just makes sense. So making a big deal out of it doesn’t make sense. They are only scaring people more and warning them of potential threats that don’t even completely exist.

Journalists and reporters need to pay attention to which stories they are giving more time and attention to. They might need to take a step back sometimes and re-evaluate what information they are sending out to the public before actually informing them of it.


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