Excess, Intemperance and Overabundance across Cultures and Literatures
Edited By Ryszard Wolny and Stankomir Nicieja
Too Much Trivia in the News? A Critical Discourse Analysis of Sensationalist Headlines in Online Newscasting
← 310 | 311 → Katarzyna Molek-KozakowskaUniversity of Opole
This study explores the issue of the increasing intrusion of entertainment into news reporting, a phenomenon known as infotainment. Media Studies literature demonstrates that commercial news outlets tend to trivialize and/or dramatize their news coverage to attract ever wider audiences and maximize their profits (cf. Bell; Langer; Conboy). One such discourse strategy is called sensationalism, and in this study it is understood as a specific way of “packaging” information to make it appear as more interesting, relevant or attractive than might be the case. However, despite a general awareness of this trend, newscasters’ strategies for increasing audience appeal have rarely been researched empirically from a discursive perspective. The rationale behind conducting a study of such an apparently trivial phenomenon may need to be specified. For one, in the world of excess news and overabundance of stimuli, media consumers tend to live in a state of information overload. This state, arguably, makes them less critical and more susceptible to manipulation. For another, with the ongoing colonization of news reporting by infotainment, the question of the quality of deliberation in the democratic public sphere needs to be addressed.
This study investigates headlines, since they are considered the paragons of sensationalism. Headlines in online newscasting play a key role in acquainting the readers with the topic of the story, although, as Andrew (25-26) shows, the connection between the headline and the body text is no longer to be taken for...
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