What is the importance in separating fact and fiction in the media? In our increasingly polarized political landscape, the line between truth and personal judgement is diminishing. We have more sources than ever before to receive our information and news. As the primary goal of traditional news reporting is to inform the public, does this objective fail when opinions make their way into the media scape? The American public must stop feeding into this frenzy if they want the impartial news they seem to desire.
According to the New York Times, there are three different types of reporting styles: broadcasting, commentary and “sensationalism.” In the traditional broadcast reporting style, only the facts are stated, leaving the audience the power to interpret what is said. Broadcasting is purely an informative technique used to best educate the public on newsworthy stories. Commentary or opinion-based reporting takes the reporters’ beliefs into consideration and gives the public alternative viewpoints on looking at a story.
Opinions are often located in editorial pages in newspapers or on cable network shows and provide multiple insightful perspectives, and are important to political discourse. In contrast, the sensationalist reporting style takes facts and spins them in a way to evoke emotional appeal. This “paparazzi” style of coverage has changed the way we think about the news. In the 2016 election, sensationalism has made its way into some political media coverage, and in those arenas has detracted from key policy issues. According to Politico, during this election the media is more caught up with the “drama” of candidates rather than the policy issues. The media coverage in this year’s election differs from past elections with a more extreme candidate-centered reporting style. The Washington Post Magazine argues that for the past year, news networks speculate more than they report, which is leading to more political conflict than unity.
As the 2016 election has controlled media attention, many sensationalized stories have made their way into the news. While most people complain about this exaggerated style of reporting, US News reports that people actually claim to like controversial and bold stories. Why are we drawn to this reporting style, even when it is the least informative? According to the Huffington Post, sensationalized stories sell, but do not result in societal progress.
Continuing down this path may lead to intensified partisan divide, which could be threating to our political scape during this controversial election season.
As communication strategies continue to transform during this election season, both from the media and the candidates, this blog series will delve into some of those new strategies.