-with Ayanna Mehta
Now that the media has shape shifted into a constant, chaotic news cycle, consumers have to constantly alter their methods for seeking out accurate news and information. Ever evolving to remain relevant (profitable) media organizations continue to adapt and redefine new ways to get revenue - and media sensationalism is typically at the top of the list.
It's important to understand how headlines drive media sensationalism that in turns motivates our ADD-induced eyeball action. The more clicks an online news organization gets, the higher its traffic numbers, and the more they can charge for ads.
That’s the revenue-generation principle of almost every news online site today, whether it’s a traditional publication or primarily a digital one. The better" the headline, the greater the trigger for us - and the greater the number of clicks.
It’s also a breeding ground for reporting on news that originates in conspiracy theory. (We’re not discussing QAnon here, but the media does need to take responsibility for that.) This past April in a piece on coronavirus conspiracy theories
, New York Times’ Max Fisher wrote “..The belief that one is privy to forbidden knowledge offers feelings of certainty and control amid a crisis that has turned the world upside down. And sharing that “knowledge” may give people something that is hard to come by after weeks of lockdowns and death: a sense of agency.” With actual fact checkers a thing of the past, there’s no mechanism for granting validity - resulting in a perfect storm of disinformation.
From politics to the pandemic, we really don’t know what’s happening in our world, or what will happen tomorrow. Digging into the media feels like a way to regain control, but what you have to realize is that most of the news media is no longer news
. In fact, media sensationalism is actually betraying us and making things much, much worse. Mind pollution is only one of the problems.
[pullquote]People hear what they want to hear. Not only does the media know this, they are making money off of it.[/pullquote]
Understanding media sensationalism and its relationship to revenue is the first step to help cut through the clutter. Not only that, this knowledge can reduce the amount of emotional turbulence you may feel, particularly if you’re prone to doomscrolling.
In your search for facts, make sure you're filtering your information based on these following unfortunate truths about the state of most media today: