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May 18, 2020
Sensationalism Breaks the Internet
The internet has afforded many news outlets a stage to dramatize and exaggerate celebrity, political, crime, and sex news. Nowadays, the audiences are very much engaged similarly to the O.J Simpson cultural phenomenon back in the 1990s. Currently, stories do not have to be newsworthy, but it must be able to entertain, grab readers’ attention and encourage clicks. The reach guaranteed by the internet adds value to internet media sensationalism. Today, one of the most sensational news on the web surrounds the infamous Kardashian brand. From my observation, many internet tabloid websites capitalize on reporting specifically on the life of reality TV star, Kim, Kardashian. This assertion is to draw your attention to the world of sensationalism that has dramatically captured the media and stir up a cultural phenomenon. In that, reporting the news has become a circus of hoax, thus shifting away from real professional journalism. In this paper, I will present eight websites which include Shaderoom.com, TMZ.com, List25.com, People.com, Daily Motion.com, Baller Alert.com, US Weekly.com, PerezHilton.com that have captured the essence of sensationalism on the internet.
Shaderoom.com is the latest news outlet online that provides a broad range of trending celebrity news, fashion and beauty trends. It is highly interactive, entertaining and explicit. This tabloid driven website allows viewers to share their honest opinions on celebrity news. It openly invites users to share information or “tips” to writers about newsworthy activities. It provides current information on happening in society thus, supporting citizen journalism in the juiciest and dramatic way. Shaderoom.com is very popular on Instagram where it attracts 18 million+ users according to their Instagram account. Shaderoom.com has a social media component that fuels sensationalism because this tabloid driven internet account attracts daily celebrities themselves and other socialites through their personal Instagram accounts. Information is taken from the celebrities pages and added to the Shaderoom website by simply taking a screenshot of the page or using the share tool. Most times celebrities respond to rumors and news surfacing about them on the websites. This type of behavior led to the emergent of a popular title called “clapback”.
“Clapback season” is the term used to describe a situation where celebrities send very feisty feedback on commentary related to a story, a picture, belief, or activity associated or about them. Celebrities leave harsh comments or videos on the website and Instagram addressing fans and the writers in an angry and personal tone. This elevated and outspoken social media frenzy will be highly retweeted, shared and remain a hot topic for weeks across the press.
The website was created as an entertainment outlet where the creator shares her opinions on famous people lifestyles and shortcomings leave highly opinionated comments about celebrities or trending events in society. For example, Shaderoom trolled the 2016 Half time Beyoncé performance. In order words, the website meets The Random House Dictionary definition that sensationalism is intended to produce starling or thrilling impression, or to excite and please vulgar tastes (Stevens,1991).
PerezHilton.com is long known for its contribution to celebrity gossip. Although it is not highly loved by many, the brand itself have sustained loyal viewers and name for itself within the entertainment industry. According to the website, PerezHilton.com “has become one of the leading go-to sites for celebrity news garnering over 300 million hits a month.” The site is known for the most current updates of Hollywood socialites and celebrities. Its eye-catching storyboard layouts and headlines cover scandals and lawsuits. Hence, invading the privacy of many. This style of reporting aids my understanding of the sensationalism. Furthermore, PerezHilton.com satisfies the criteria in sensational journalism, a lot of mainstream stories are just rewritten across the internet with similar details, the same number of paragraphs, same language, and arguments. I think these columnists sometimes use copy and paste to distinguish their blogs or news slightly. I have seen this widely across the internet, and PerezHilton.com are guilty of this as well.
Perez Hilton, the columnist pry into marital affairs, law violations, contract terminations, lifestyle and the health of celebrities. The websites use a lot of drawings on images to exaggerate or highlight the main idea of their stories. For example, a zig-zag line down Johnny Depp and his wife wedding picture. Besides, the language is riveting and exciting, and Perez Hilton, the owner of the website, has successfully captured the attention of many in delivering the juicy news in Hollywood.
US Weekly is also a big hit in the media. Over the Memorial day weekend, I took note of internet websites that has the most trending news on social media. In the entertainment field, US weekly flooded many of my channels and social media accounts with some greats stories through mainly videos and pictures. The website itself cover stories about moms, pets, style, beauty, surgeries, news, and entertainment. There is a lot of subheading such as Exclusive, Movie Trailers, Latest News, Feuds, OMG, and RIP. Many hashtags are associated with US Weekly, which helps to boost their market reach. These hashtags are linked to the website by a click which eventually leads to other trending conversations.
I must say, however, that the website has a lot of sex appeal and many stories implied some sexy, playful activity within the entertainment industry. There was a story titled “Kylie Jenner Showcase Cleavage”, and another included “Kate Hudson Showcase Bikini Body”. From the readings in class, I realize sex played a critical role in the development of sensationalism. It has impacted the media to the point where if there are no sexual inferences in news or advertisement the website or company failed to attract viewers.
TMZ.com is the what I consider “speculative video paparazzi reporting” because the staff questions any and everybody’s business in the sports, entertainment, business and political arena. They influence the ways people gets the news. The brand strives on Hollywood news and gossips. Often, TMZ blogs and videos always report factual stories from very reliable sources. According to its website, launched in 2005, TMZ’s meteoric rise followed its exclusive on two of the biggest stories in entertainment: Mel Gibson's DUI arrest and subsequent encounter with law enforcement, and Michael Richards' ill-fated trip to the Laugh Factory. TMZ also broke the news of the breakup of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline's marriage (TMZ.com,2016).
Additionally, they frequently stalk the people of interest seeking confirmations about leads and later upload the videos for humor on the website. These attics is what makes TMZ.com news brand so unique. Their filmed roundtable discussions amongst themselves and short blogs ignite excitement, laughter, suspense and shock. Furthermore, TMZ staff collectively pass judgment and scrutinize whoever is of interest in the most uncensored and unapologetic tone. Their favorite headlines are “exclusive” and “breaking news” which usually introduces a strong story and juicy scandal or gossip respectively. Their videos are normally a group of employees criticizing and laughing at famous individuals. In my opinion, the criticism is brutally hilarious and extraordinary. As a result, I am inclined to believe this is a sensational style of reporting. For example, the headline “19 Shirtless Shot of Gregg Sulkin for his Birthday” or Johhny Dep, “AMBER IS A LIAR” He’s Not a Woman -Beater” other subheadings include TMZ Urban, Kardashian, W.T.F, Memba Them, Guess Who and R.I.P.
People.com has been in existence for a while. In the past, the owners tried to align its brand identity with more modest, tasteful stories about celebrities. But, I have noticed that currently they too produced sensational stories and create story lines around rumors in a more conservative way. There tone and language are just as influential on tabloid gossip lovers. They focus on pop culture topics which either spark curiosity, outrage, laughter or interest. Dave Quinn, a columnist, shared a story about a politician daughter, Palin getting victory over ex-fiancé and he quoted “baby daddy” on May 27, 2016. This story drew my attention because “baby daddy” seems like a very presumptuous word to link with a politician's family member. This website projects it works in a softer tone but the type of Hollywood news reported is not short of drama.
This website depicts it articles and pictures in a more moderate tone but the kind of Hollywood news reported is not short of fulfilling characteristics of sensationalism. Personal life highly influences a majority of their contributions over the years. Therefore, if they did not use the personal struggles of the vibrant, and wealthy celebrities as a tool for making most of their profits, People.com could have been considered less sensational. When news about celebrities break-ups, relationships, drug, and anger problem are not heavily conveyed on their website, People.com cannot fall in a different media category.
List25.com was created to present less popular intriguing facts in a ranking sense. It aspires to educate and also spark laughter, shock, fear or curiosity about many aspects of everyday life. Therefore, this website is not focused on Hollywood. Instead, it embarks on nature, history, science, travel, bizarre and other miscellaneous topics. List 25.com carries a list of 25 conspiracies that turned out to be true, 25 most dangerous breed dawgs,25 cute warmth text messages.
In short, List25 has attracted over a million users according to its website since its debut in 2011. Today, the website is still consistently pacifying the curiosity of its viewer. I understand the concept of not having a top 10 list because people nowadays always want to see more regardless of the emotions provoked by a story or picture. Personally, the most gore and thrilling stories presented in the top 25 list usually have me wanting to see more. Therefore, List25.com have dived into the sensationalism by providing "excess" regardless of the type of content. They have managed to accomplish this through research and many feedbacks left on their social media accounts, which include YouTube, Pinterest, Daily Motion and Instagram.
Daily motion.com is a breeder of advertisements stifling intriguing stories. Daily motion.com tends to annoy users and waste viewer’s time. In my experience, this website always makes me angry because of the influx of ads popping up when I am trying to find the story that originally draw my attention to the site. The website has an abundance of incredibly weird never before seen stories. The Most Popular section is very entertaining and mind blabbing. An example, 50,000-Year-Old Beer Recipe found Video got my attention even those I am not a passionate drinker. It just sounded like an exaggeration, and I want to see for myself. The type of behavior fuel sensationalism where users' curiosity increases the website profitability.
DailyMotion.com website videos are widely circulated on social media. The bizarre and intriguing headlines benefit from the click-pooling mechanism. It helps pool money for the site because, after two clicks on a story, an advertisement comes up. This results in the viewers are waiting for the ad video to complete so that the rest of story can be fully understood. Furthermore, sometimes these same stories and videos are fake. This concept is very popular in sensationalism.
Ballert.com is a popular website that focuses it reporting on professional sports athletes in the industry. Both local and international sports teams are featured, and the male players are targeted for gossip and rumors. Also, the website position itself as an insider within Hollywood posting updates on players personal life including "flings", lawsuits, fashion, style, finances, endorsements and past life before fame. The website is filled with pictures mainly of players with females companions.
This sensational website requires a free subscription before you can have access to the blog. It aligns itself with many another tabloid structure website like Shaderoom.com and Bossip.com. It promises women specifically an audience or community to discuss all things “ballerific” as the website describes. This statement leads me to Bird account that an article once stated that show business secrets of Hollywood Stars claim to tell “inside story” in a seemingly never-ending chronicling of divorce, infidelity and intrigue nude secrets of Hollywood stars. I believe Baller Allert.com place emphasis the professional players unfortunate lifestyle in building its brand.
In conclusion, sensationalism is very much prevalent today, and the internet has exploited its users this type of journalism. At the same time, it the loyal lovers of these type of intriguing news, gossips and rumors that empower the writers and developer. The business and marketing component of news reporting has tinted the quality of reporting. Evidently, these websites battle with accuracy and as such achieve some of the most eye-grabbing news. Most times information is either manipulated for sales, and profits. These eights sites have received backlash from celebrities or mere viewers, hence, portraying journalism as show business. Sensationalism has degraded the values of people and has lowered the ethical standards of many. However, I believe that List25.com provides a calmer form of sensationalism than the others that built their brands around Hollywood. Hence, Hollywood has significantly impacted today’s culture.
Stevens, John D. "Sensationalism and the New York Press.”: J.D. Stevens: 9780231073967. Columbia University Press, 1 Apr. 1991. Web. 28 May 2016.
Quinn, Dave. "Bristol Palin Poses with Daughter Sailor Grace and Ex-Fiancé Dakota Meyer After Child Support Victory." PEOPLE.com. 2016. Web. 27 May 2016.