I work as a part-time journalist as well as a romance author and am I aware that scintillating stories and descriptions allegedly sell books and papers… but I totally detest the concept of “Yellow Journalism”.
“Yellow journalism and yellow press are American terms for journalism and associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate, well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales.[ Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.” (Wikipedia)
I want to read or watch the news for facts, details and not just to see people crying or in misery. The recent tragedy in Miami was used by media to attract viewers and readers. It is horrible and sad news about all the people who perished, but very little, if any, news was shared about the heroes who combed through the piles of what was once a building to rescue LIVING beings. Crews came from many places in our nation, they combed through the rubble for, in some cases, people they had never even heard of. Others provided food and shelter to those who lost their home.
We heard very little, if anything, about the efforts of rescuers, those who came to offer aid, and tales of families who were fortunate enough to be reunited. I scoured several articles and while I know I didn’t get to all of them, there wasn’t a single mention of the people who were actually saved by heroes. Yes, the tragic facts were that people died, it was unexpected and heartbreaking and by all means important. BUT people also survived and helped others to survive and that is news too.
How many times have TV reporters shown up, reported on the “story” and then lengthened their broadcast by thrusting the microphones at crying witnesses and simply asking, over and over again, “How do you feel?” As a former first responder I can tell you that seeing someone die in a tragic accident NEVER feels good… so why keep pressing those who are emotionally hurting to boost ratings with their despair? Stick to the facts, good and bad, to me that’s news.
A few decades ago my husband was working as a news photographer for a local newspaper. Part of his job was to listen in on emergency channels and photograph news events as they were happening. There was the one day he came across a devastating house fire. The family, including children and pets, all made it out alive thanks to the heroic actions of the responding firefighters. The house and everything they owned, in the material sense, was gone.
Mark took dramatic photos of the parents hugging their children with tears running down their faces. He had shots of firefighters covered in soot and still entering the house to save whatever and whoever they could. When he got his photos back to the newspaper editor, the first question the man asked was “Did anybody die?” Mark answered, “No the firefighters saved them all.” The editor gave a simple answer which absolutely stunned my husband, “Too bad. That won’t sell.”
Please, News Editors for newspapers and TV media, give us news and facts, not sensationalism. We have enough soap operas and TV dramas to fill our appetites for scandals and tears. Let’s celebrate some of the good that happens, the heroes that come through for us, and the tragedies that “could have been worse” if not for the quick actions and selflessness of others.