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Don't Panic - the health warning some Newspapers should carry (pic courtesy of http://thefrugalbunny.blogspot.com/)

I felt compelled to comment on this blog post because it chimed with me following an article I read in Zest about rising anxiety levels in society and how journalists may be adding to these through sensationalising breaking news

In his article Nitesh Dhanjani is discussing the potential security dangers associated with twitter and it’s use by terrorists. It is not that I do not see merit in some of his argument but I cannot help but feel that this type of coverage leads to the type of society inhitited by fear which was the basis of the Zest feature.

The role journalists may play as scare-mongerers should not be underestimated, especially now news is available 24/7 and at the click of a button. It is pretty hard to avoid the kind of headlines employed in an effort to grab our attention in an increasingly competitive news market.

The governments of our countries in the ‘developed and democratic’ west ask us to stand strong and resillient in the face of terrorist threats but is it any wonder people are afraid when they are exposed to daily reports on all that is scary in the world. I daresay society has lost the ability to measure what constitutes as a true threat to their safety.

And it’s not just issues like terrorism which are sensationalised in this way either. When I typed ‘sensationalist headlines’ into google I stumbled across this blog post which had generated quite a conversation among its readers. It appears hyperbolic journalism is not limited to matters of national security and can be found surrounding far less threatening issues.

But yellow journalism is by no means a new phenomenon; the term itself was coined in late 19th century America to describe the levels of exaggerated and biased journalism the founders of the New York Journal and New York World were willing to resort to in what was the greatest circulation battle of the time.

Joseph Pulitzer, the original yellow-bellied journalist? (pic courtesy of Lex-Ham Community Theater)

Joseph Pulitzer, the original yellow-bellied journalist? (pic courtesy of Lex-Ham Community Theater)

Today, with circulation figures of most major newspapers in Britain plummeting, should we fear greater misrepresentation of the news is yet to come? And now with any Tom, Dick or Harry (myself included) able to write their version of the news and post it on the internet without a thought to the ethics of journalism, will the public find it even harder to get well informed and unbiased news?

Or, alternatively, has unbiased news always been a fallacy? And does every journalist from the seasoned hack to the citizen blogger have an agenda, even if it may be a subconcious one?

Plenty of questions, does anyone have any answers?