Vandalized Perception

by TheCitizen on November 26, 2015 - 11:59pm

Today because of the Evolution of our media tools, it is easier to have access to information from all corners of the world. The controversy of Dr. Nancy Snyderman who violate quarantine was chosen for this analysis. While in Liberia, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News chief medical editor worked with a freelancer cameraman from Vice News, Ashoka Mukpo who contracted the Ebola virus disease. Once repatriate to the United-States Dr. Snyderman was caught in her car outside her residence while she had agreed to submit to a voluntary quarantine of 21 days to minimize the risk of further outbreak. 


According to Dr. Snyderman, Journalist from TMZ stalk her New Jersey residence, staff at the center for the elderly would not give to her 88-years mother its vaccine against influenza because they knew she had seen her. Her ex-husband, a freelance journalist lost a story because someone did not want to get into a car with him.(Nancy Snyderman) 


 To avoid the risk of contagion, the Ministry of Health of New Jersey has place Dr. Snyderman under a compulsory quarantine order. According to the main article of this study, she was asked to stay away from NBC for two 21-day cycles. She returned to NBC News in December. One month later, while she was presenting a report on possible treatments for peanut allergies whereas her father had died shortly before it. She failed to hide her emotions and Twitter had quickly been inundated with tweets stating "Well Nancy Snyderman is either having a stroke or is drunk"(Twitter). March 12, 2015, Dr. Snyderman gave her resignation to NBC News as Chief Medical Editor due to the Ebola controversy. I clearly understand the legitimate concerns that some might have because of a possible proliferation of this virus on American soil and I agree any vital information to the field of public health must be shared and be accessible. But I think this abusive news media coverage to protect the American nation raises more harm than good. That's why the main objective of this thesis connected with my program of study (health science) is to answer the following question: Does sensationalism in the news media influence the health field in ethically troubling way? I firmly believe that sensationalism undermines the goals of medical journalism because the real vital news that has a real impact on our society are set aside in the name of entertainment and I also believe the focus on scandals represents an obstacle because it tends to victimize the person concerned. 


First thing first, what is medical journalism? According to a scientific communications director, medical journalism "deals with life and death, hope and fear, health and disease, progress and failure, coping and crises, fact and speculation, safety and risk" (Ragnar Levi). Medical reporters deal with everything from the highest technology to the helping hand, from laboratory science to hands-on clinical practice it's therefore not surprising that medical stories attract a large audience in traditional media because of the vitality of the information! The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia clearly said sensationalism is “a type of opinion piece outlook to present or hold a partial perspective, often accompanied by a refusal to consider the possible merits of alternative points of view in mass media in which events and topics in news stories […] are over-hyped”(Wikipedia). And, this is why I firmly believe that sensationalism undermines the goals of medical journalism and simply because it is against the fundamental duty of journalists. Some people might say sensationalism is nothing new, proven itself, it pays and is a great form of entertainment. Is the ideal solution for independent media if they want to continue to exist! it is important to realize that the readers / viewers loses their freedom because their perception of the reality is biased. And, sensationalism news in the media often (1) report “on insignificant matters as they carry the same social weight as stories that have an immediate impact on society [ or (2) present ] newsworthy topic in a trivialized manner”(Greenshell). 


Secondly, by applying the ethical framework of utilitarianism, I intend to demonstrate that the focus on scandals represents a big obstacle for the traditional news media type. The doctrine of utilitarianism comes from a branch of theology, a class of ethical theories, which mainly focuses on happiness and the repercussion to the act committed. It is pertinent to remember that the main goal of Dr. Nancy when she went to Africa was to report on Ebola virus in Liberia with her team “not [..] to become the story”(Dr. Snyderman). The repercussion of sensationalism news media are pretty clear: (1) diversion of the main subject, (2) a wave of disinformation and general panic, (3) victimization of the victim and his family according to Dr. Snyderman “[she] swear to God: If it had been Salem, [she] would have been burned at the stake.”(Dr. Snyderman). Some might say that if in the first place she'd never leave home none of this would have produced. I agree that this controversy was caused by her thoughtless gesture. This ridiculous situation had only intended to make her an example. The irony of this situation is that the cameraman who contracted the virus was discharged from the intensive care unit before she was allowed to leave her house. I think we all agree that this situation is not fair and according to the applied ethical framework, utilitarianism the abusive usage of sensationalism in our traditional news media had done more harm then good due to the fact it vandalize their viewers /readers perception. 


In conclusion, the main aim of this thesis related to my ending study program was to evaluate if the sensationalism in news traditional media type could influence the health field in ethically troubling way? We learn sensationalism in the news media is “a type of opinion piece outlook to present or hold a partial perspective”(wikipedia) therefore readers/viewers can't make really good decisions, according to a news activist author sensationalism media often (1) report “insignificant matters as they carry the same social weight as stories that have an immediate impact on society [ or (2) present newsworthy topic in a trivialized manner” (Greenshell). Sensationalism tend to create more harm than good (*e.g. diversion of the main subject, wave of disinformation, general panic, victimization). I remain convinced that the sensationalism undermines the goals of medical journalism. I suggest an imaginary line which separate the Entertainment industry and traditional news media. Thus, readers / viewers can have access to really good information that will help them make decisions in their daily lives. I take this text to make this small opening about sensationalism in our traditional news media. “Sensational stories are the junk food of our news diet, the ice-cream sundae that you eagerly gobble up. You know it's bad for you but it's delicious.” (Jon Stewart) 






Abramovitch, Seth, and Nancy Snyderman. "Nancy Snyderman Breaks Silence on Ebola Nightmare, NBC News: "People Wanted Me Dead" (Exclusive)." The Hollywood Reporter. N.p., 26 Aug. 2015. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. < >. 



MacLean, Charles. “On Modern Sensationalism”. Proceedings of the Musical Association 24 (1897): 39–55. Web… 

Ransohoff, David F., and Richard M. Ransohoff. "Sensationalism in the Media: When Scientists and Journalists May Be Complicit Collaborators." Sensationalism in the Media: When Scientists and Journalists May Be Complicit Collaborators (n.d.): n. pag. Universitat Pompeu Fabra. 4 July 2001. Web. 25 Nov. 2015. < >. 



Killough, Kevin. Changing the Narrative How Media Sensationalism Affects Public Policy and How Activists Can Use It to Their Advantage. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada = Bibliothèque Et Archives Canada, 2008. Print. 


Other news articles: 

Rice, Lynette. "Dr. Nancy Snyderman to Leave NBC News." PEOPLE. N.p., 12 Mar. 2015. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. < >. 

Rogers, Tony. "Jon Stewart Blasts Sensationalism in the News Media, but Is It Really So Bad?" News & Issues. About News, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. < >. 



"Bias." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. <>. 



Ken. "Well Nancy Snyderman Is Either Having a Stroke or Is Drunk #NBCNightlyNews." Twitter. Twitter, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015. <>. 


Greenshell from Newsactivist: 

"OP2: Media Ethics + Program." OP2: Media Ethics + Program. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. <