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Yellow Journalism On The Internet

Buyer Beware: The Big Sale

The 1920′s and 1930′s brought us commercial radio. We later found ourselves watching images on the sparkling screen. Magic from signals. It wasn’t perfect but we were addicted as if it were a drug. The brain responded with sensory data overload.

The Gutenberg press passed along greatness centuries ago, but there were lies on certain pages. Newspapers gave us immediate hysteria. Next stop — the digital world. An economy based on information. Corporate media. Mass advertising. Audience measurement. Digital exhaust.

Desktop publishing brings us instant eye-catching headlines. The days of the press are not completely over; it’s just that the journalism 2.0 crowd has more options. Social media spreads the thread. We know the score in seconds. Internet community manager. How many clicks? You can be a rock star!

But no matter how modern, it’s good old yellow journalism. Well researched, legitimate news just doesn’t sell. The audience has to be dazzled into a story, or a cliffhanger. Hyperreality hangover, Batman!

Sensationalism. The hidden agenda. A conspiracy theory. (The hidden motive is money. That’s the real naked truth.)

We want trivial news, mirrored news, faked news. The Political Circus. It’s the medium not the content (but let’s pretend it’s the content).

The underdog. The Rocky story. The Elvis story. He’s left the building.

We want competition. Circulation wars. We want to be educated from the so-called experts, well maybe not. Give us a funny, saucy headline. Show us the UFO, the PHD, the HTML, and the PDF. Can you say drama Big Daddy?

The big scare. A murderer on the prowl. A new virus without a name. The boogeyman. Crime everywhere. (Ignorance doesn’t count Dracula.)

Another foreign war. Another scandal. “Oh, the humanitarian effort!”

And what do you know, more dirt on another politician. He showed himself again. He denied it. He admits it. Watergate, Weinergate, etc. He didn’t have sex with that… Well, you know.

Propaganda. The president tells me how I should live. The first lady tells me how to eat. The royal wedding. Stop it!

Fact-based reporting? Are you kidding me? How about an illegal strip search. Give us something provocative. We want Lady Gago — whatever. I’m having stimulus withdrawal symptoms. Give the old guy 75 years in the slammer for recording police? Creepy critters Chicago.

Use some hyperbole. Exaggerate. Use keywords like cruelty, harsh, broken-hearted, futuristic, nuclear, bubble, crisis, rebel, hoax, incident, payoff, sex, abuse, torture, controversy, etc. The Naked Whatever. Nostradamus.

Lobby, use plagiarism, be more vague, make generalities. Pay off reporters to make your career soar. No problem. Hey, shell out a little more green and buy yourself a key eyewitness. Start up a baseball team with a government scheme.

Accuracy what? Simulated reality. Hand waving, head banging, stereotypic movement. The meme. The talk show. The stalker. The hater. The troll. The heckler.

The ultimate sin? You’ll find that out in the next episode (post). If we have the time that is…

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Image: luigi diamanti /

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