"Life" is a word which is often thought in a different way by everyone. Focusing on our day-to-day life, everyone admits that life is full of happenings and these particular happenings are brought in front of us with the help of an institution and the main theme behind the covering of these happenings is the focused work of this institution which is called as "Journalism". The people involved in making all this happen are called "Journalists".
"A journalist is basically a chronicler, not an interpreter of events."
A well-known US media critic Bill Moyers once said, "A journalist is basically a chronicler, not an interpreter of events. Where else in society do you have the license to eavesdrop on so many different conversations as you have in journalism? Where else can you delve into the life of our times?"
So this is the opinion of Moyers on Journalists and Journalism. The very first line of the quotation above describes the work of responsible journalism, not of sensational journalism. This means the journalists are hoped to work devotedly and should not work sensationally. A written news report falls under sensational journalism if the reporter attempts to have a good written report without much consideration of the accuracy of facts and the relevance it brings to the public and to its target audience. The main and the basic points of attention would be somehow missing rather misjudged. A journalist is not commissioned to interpret what the report is all about but rather, a journalist is tasked to simply listen, ask, and jot down facts and always and never forget to verify the details.
The journalists are usually provided with a long multi point's agenda for their job to be done in the right direction. Journalists are tasked not to integrate their personal judgment on their reports. It is up to the audience to make their own judgment based on the news report. It is up to them to decide whether the news is good or the news is bad especially if it involves people.
Sensationalism is inter-linked with publication of the fallacious news in many ways. Actually, sensationalism is most commonly done in tabloids except some tabloid-type publications that still preserve the integrity and credibility of their news. Writers who practice sensational journalism incorporate personal ideas to their articles. With this, the main objective of true journalism which is to deliver true information is on the line. What the readers read is not pure news but incorporated on the news are the writers' perspective.
American historian and journalist, Frank Luther Mott, uses five criteria for defining sensational journalism out of which I am describing 4 as follows:
1. Massive headlines designed to scare individuals into purchasing the newspaper or magazine - when often the news is in fact, minor.
2. Overuse of images or drawings.
3. The utilization of false interviews, headlines designed to mislead readers.
4. Sympathetic angle depicting an 'underdog' fighting against the system.
Newspapers and other media outlets that are credible and try to remain fair and balanced, try to report news-worthy events without the sensationalism, but with a focus more on facts and details. Therefore, to be accused of sensational journalism in the industry is often like biting a thumb at someone in a Shakespeare play.
Nevertheless, media practitioners have some kind of edge over the popular people as media practitioners are the only people permitted to enter and be part of large gatherings especially of controversial events. This press freedom has been abused by media professionals ever since. If not, why are there people called media critics?
Finally, I would conclude that YES Sensational Journalism is a menace to the system and the society. Because we depend upon journalism for all that is happening in our world. No sensational journalism would be documented if journalists will not put into account their own perceptions and personal judgment to any of their final written output.