Attracting Readers vs. Sensationalizing Crime

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Robin Barton

Crime reporting is especially susceptible to sensationalism. But is it ever appropriate?

Competition for readers and consumers of news has never been more intense. Because the public can get information from so many sources—newspapers to TV to the Internet—journalists may be tempted to resort to sensationalism in order to attract an audience and get an edge.

The word "sensationalism" was first used in the nineteenth century to criticize the so-called "yellow journalism" of newspapers such as the New York World and New York Journal. The term has since been applied to media coverage that's controversial, shocking . . .

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