Sensational Sensationalism


Aidan Silitch, Opinion and Humor Editor

When one first arrives at VICE New’s homepage, it’s exactly what you would expect in this day and age. Tons of articles and videos slamming Trump take over the homepage, and the few that don’t instead seem to have the sole purpose of eliciting shock (see I got High off Edibles with Waka Flocka in Amsterdam, or We Asked an Expert Why You Think Cannibalism Is Gross). Does this seem weird to you? Because it does to me.

Over the past two years of Trump’s presidency, I’ve noticed a stark decline in the variety of journalism advertised. We are no longer exposed to a plethora of stories from around the world and instead are bombarded by a constant cacophony screaming TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP. Unfortunately, VICE isn’t the only news outlet that has fallen prey to this. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox all have homepages that appear to be shrines to Trump’s ignorance. You might be asking, why has this happened? The answer is simple: Trump is a polarizing figure who sells news. In fact, this shock journalism is a major factor in why Trump is in power. According to The Street, Trump received five billion dollars worth of free media. People aren’t interested in the evils, such as climate change, or racism, that plague our world, but are instead interested in the latest asinine thing Trump’s done. This type of journalism is called sensationalism, and it isn’t something new.  

A few years back, CNN went berserk reporting on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight (you know, the one that disappeared WITHOUT LEAVING A TRACE). According to The Boston Globe, Of the 189,400 words used to report an entire day’s worth of news, CNN dedicated 75,929 of them, or more than 40 percent, to the Malaysian plane.” 40 PERCENT! Why would they do this if not to please us, the American populous? We eat this sensationalized news up, and as a result, are rewarded with more and more news that is all flash, and no substance.

What are we gonna do about this? I don’t know. I don’t have a feasible solution, but I think a good place to start is to stop falling prey to mass hysteria. Don’t worry, you can skip the news on one Trump press conference. Do you really need to know about Trump’s golf vacations, or whenever Kellyanne Conway is being an idiot? You know these things stink, so stop re-reading what you already know.

That is not to say that you should stop reading the news. No, if you stop informing yourself you become ignorant. I’m saying that you should look harder and deeper for the stories that matter, not the ones that Apple News picks out for you.