05 March 2015

Sensationalism and the Media

The other day, I had dinner with some friends who happen to be Filipinos. We were remarking about how news seems to be more about entertainment and not about honest reporting. There have been a couple of incidents in the Philippines, and my friends were remarking that the media seems to be writing sensational news reports without actually investigating what has happened. I have to say that sometimes these things leave a bad taste in the mouth.

See, as much as I haven't been living in the Philippines for a while now, I still follow the news every now and then. I still get RSS feeds into my news reader. And somehow, I feel that the news reporting styles are so pathetic that I wonder why I even read them.

For example, back in January, the Pope visited the Philippines. And guess what articles were found online? I found an article reporting that the Pope's skullcap flew because of the wind when he stepped out of the plane. And I was like, really? This was news? How so?

Another example was during the same month, when the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant was held. The Philippine entry unfortunately didn't even enter the top cohort, and so perhaps the Filipinos wanted some other representation. So they thought of Miss Jamaica. Is Miss Jamaica Filipino? Heck, there was an article mentioning that she unfortunately isn't. Why is this news?

Sometimes, I wonder, the quality of news reports we get is going down to the point that it is less about reporting what happened in the world, but more about providing entertainment to the people. I used to read Israeli news reports as well, but stopped for the meantime, since I also had the feeling that everything is more about sensationalism and not about honest to goodness reporting. When you see reports about little events that are included only because the word "Jewish" is involved, then you start wondering.

So I wonder, why is the media like this? Is it because the consumers want sensationalist journalism? Maybe. Hence I hope that the consumers would be a little bit more educated and stop partaking in this chicanery. However, the media on the other hand also has the responsibility to deliver good public service, and this, unfortunately, is lacking, so it seems.


  1. I took a class on Chinese media at university, and I remember that Asian medias in general would rather focus on positive news while Western media thrive on scaring people and on negative sensationalism. This is so true when you see the headlines on CCTV... that and food. Asians are obsessed with food!

    1. Zhu,

      I never realized that difference. I guess I was too young to remember and reflect at the quality of news when I was still living in Japan. I'll keep that in mind next time I have the opportunity to check it out.