Friday, March 29, 2013

CNN’s Yellow Journalism Slip Is Showing


I came across an article on CNN this morning that reeks of sensationalistic yellow journalism.

While I don’t like to spend my time - or fill the digital pages of my blog – with posts of a negative nature in general, some rationalizing part of my psyche suggested that by calling the article out, some person somewhere may recognize it as what it is and, in turn, they may be more wary of such schlock in the future – or better still – make someone else aware of the practice.

I know it’s a large order - but if the majority of people called out the many instances of yellow journalism/sensationalism/infotainment that the news media tries to pass off as news, then perhaps they will stop doing it.

Here’s a screen capture of the article on CNN that I came across this morning.


I actually saw this article “evolve” to its current state. Just yesterday morning , the article on had a title that read something like “Rare Kennedy family photos released” and a sub-header mentioning that they were taken at Camp David.

They were very nice and innocuous photos of JFK, Jacquelyn and the children. Some were of Carolyn on horseback, other were of the couple and the children visiting with family and friends and a couple of them showed a young JFK Jr. in the cockpit of Air Force one.

And it is those two photos that some web news producer - desperate to raise the hit count on the article - rebranded the very next morning as “Eerie JFK Jr. photos released”. 


As you can see from the screen cap above, they even used one of the two so called “eerie” photos to highlight the article. Ironically, you’ll find no mention of the word “eerie” in the actual article. In fact, it’s the exact same article as yesterday which consists of a slide show of about eight photographs with some short captions.

It’s total bullshit.

In this context, every photo of every person ever taken in a car that later went on to perish in a car accident can now be considered eerie. Or, perhaps any photo of a person ever seated at a table of food must now be known as eerie should that same person sadly choke to death years later.

My partner George said it best in my opinion when he stated that because of this 24 hour news cycle/circus that has been created, new media is desperate for stories to fill every second of the space that will capture viewers attention first. And that is what throws the doors open to the shellacked garbage that is now passing for news.

The trick is to be aware. Be circumspect. Be not so ready to swallow everything that comes across the screen as valid. Be ready to pass on the paper cup filled with Kool-Aid until you’ve read the ingredients.

The rebranding of the Kennedy Camp David photo story by CNN is the perfect example. There is nothing eerie about a photograph of a little boy excited to be sitting in the cockpit of a plane. Most kids would leap at the chance. Even if that same boy eventually died in a plane crash years later as an adult, it only make the photo a coincidence. What you have in that circumstance is the opinion of an editor being disguised as real news for purely sensationalistic purposes.

It’s an editor looking to lure viewers -  the same way a Venus Fly Trap lures its prey.

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