Misinformation in the Media
by jeremieaudet on November 2, 2016 - 11:58pm
Why does media exist? Are they about information, or about sensation? A pit bull killed a woman during the last summer. Media such as T.V.A or L.C.N took that non-important news and took it to the front page; it created fear in the population. The government even had the idea of a law that would oblige the pit bull owner to let professionals kill their dogs. That example is one of many others. The real issue is that sensationalism in media can lead to disinformation.
First of all, media tend to use sensationalism in order to sell papers. In fact, news corporations are broadcasting non-important information to the public. They’re creating stories and bringing anecdotes to the front page. It’s actually not dramatic, citizens love to be entertained, but it’s problematic when these kinds of news become headlines. Some people think, like Mitchel Stephens in his article Is Sensationalism in News Media a Bad Thing? that, ‘Sensationalism is unavoidable in the news because we humans are wired to be alert to the sensation.’ It’s actually not true ; humans can have sensation in lots of other ways (listening to a movie, doing sport, etc.), and it’s dangerous to create a link between sensations and information. In addition, some journalists are bringing the opinion that ‘sensationalism serves a function by promoting the spread of information to fewer literate audiences’ (Mitchel Stephens), However, broadcasting channels should ensure that their listeners have the knowledge to interpret news correctly instead of bringing the quality of information down.
To continue, money in media can lead to sensationalism. The most important reason why this method exist is that it brings more attention, more views and so, more revenue. For instance, CNN is the most influent media in north-America. The channel has the biggest audience in the United-States. However, they put new breaking information each hour that is not really interesting for the public. There’s a solid link between sensationalism and news. Huge media wants their public to be entertained and not really informed, so they put sensationalist news each hour to keep the public attention. Additionally, the republican Ben Carson said: “Love of money is the root of all evil.” So the answer of why media use sensationalism is evident ; there is a lot of money to make when they have always broken the news.
Finally, we could bring the public back on the road of good information by abandoning the huge media stations. The major problem with institutions like CNN, LCN or TVA Nouvelles is that they’re giving political opinions. These channels are taking news and ; ‘’apply a unified political-cultural world of view to the unfolding event of the day’’ (Fischer-Zemin). When media give opinions, the public is biased. For instance, during the Second World War, the Nazi journalists gave their opinions on the economic crisis in Europe ; they said that it was Jewish people fault. That example is extreme, but it’s a good way to understand how biased information leads to misinformation.
Nicolas Lemay Castonguay