Tuesday, March 03, 2015


sen·sa·tion·al·ism /sen'sa,SHehnl,izm/
1. (especially in journalism) the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement."media sensationalism"
2. [PHILOSOPHY] another term for phenomenalism.

Lest anyone read my entries of the past couple days and believe me to be a partisan; allow me to point out that it is not only Faux News that is worthy of derision and scorn. CNN, the once reputable station of news and information on cable television has certainly suffered its own credibility slide over the years.

Here one need not look any further than a typical day’s scheduling to see what I mean by this.

One need simply look at the number of items that CNN touts as “breaking news” to see what I mean. First, let’s make sure that we agree on what this phrase means. Contrary to what CNN seems to think, “breaking news” does not mean “this is a sensational story that we can make you interested in regardless of whether-or-not we actually know anything about it!” So, what does this phrase mean? Here, more-or-less, is the definition they taught in my Journalism classes back at the University of Central Florida where I was a Broadcasting major in the eighties:
break•ing news
1. newly received information about an event that is currently occurring or developing."now some breaking news of a fire in the business district"
Given that definition, no number of exciting banners, dramatic music intros, nor tantalizing lead-in text can make the fruitless search for a plane that went missing “breaking news.” CNN earned the scorn of Saturday Night Live for their constant labeling of their “Continuing Coverage” of the non-developing story with their satire about the CNN Pregnancy Test. “Breaking News: CNN more confident than ever that it will soon know if you're pregnant .”

Granted, all the major news outlets try to whip-up some excitement around their news coverage. But CNN cannot possibly justify the lengths to which they go to make the slimmest shred of a story seem exciting. Sure, their ratings were good, but at what cost? Their reputability is damaged. A recent poll of how well informed consumers of the major news sources placed CNN near the bottom – they were above only Fox and “Watched No News” in their scores.

Wherever you are, I hope that you have the intellectual wherewithal to know the difference between News and Hype.

Don Bergquist – March 03, 2015 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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