Sensationalism is the over-hyping of matters in the media in order to boost readership and audience. Various methods can include intentionally being controversial, extreme exaggeration, purposely omitting factual information, and engaging certain emotions. The main goal is to attain more readers for higher profits and advertising costs.

There are some rare occasions where the press reports only what they believe are good stories, not what is factual and relevant. Sensationalism was used often in the 16th century in order to team moral lessons. It also helped bring new audiences to the news with the lower classes not fully understanding politics and the economy at the time. Today, whether it is political negativity or news portrayed mistakenly as a joke, subjects that are complex are frequently at risk of sensationalism.

Return to Journalism Encyclopedia.