Sensationalism in the Midst of a Crisis

By: Mahvish Akhtar
W hen I was in college, we learned all about how the media sensationalizes the news and what yellow journalism was. Yellow journalism is when the media misrepresents or overplays scenarios to their benefits to gain viewership and readership.
I know you learned that because, of course, google. We know everything these days. Sometimes more than we need to, we should.
Everything seems important. Everything seems worth reporting and telling the world about. We feel like we’re doing the world a favor. We are not participating in any kind of sensationalism when we are just passing on useful information about something that affects all of us, we think. Something that can change all of our lives forever, we say.
Creating fear and misleading the public. Spreading information while stretching the truth. Taking situations out of context when posting.
Many times it is not intentional, let us face it though, everyone loves a good gossip. We feel we are not hurting anyone. It’s just a fun little activity. What’s the harm in telling the world that some woman was pulled out of her house because she didn’t report herself back to the hospital after getting a positive result. The harm my friends is hysteria, panic, and unnecessary fear in public of their fellow human.
Right now, everything is essential. Our lives are changing every moment. How can we not talk to the world about what is happening? How can we not describe everything in detail because all of a sudden, life is fleeting? Someone has to document everything that happens. Someone has to tell the coming generations about us. Who will keep the lamps burning after we are gone? We could perish at any second. This virus cares for no one. Rich or poor, white or black, brown. It’s tearing down countries. Trampling empires. This is here to teach us the reality of how helpless we are.
This ladies and gentlemen is how you sensationalize the truth. There isn’t any lie in the statement above. However, comments like these are all about doom and gloom. We are here, and we are more capable than ever. We were taken aback by this thing; we were unprepared, that’s true. Now we know. The death toll has been a terrible loss. We have been humbled, we have realized our actual place in this vast universe, but now we know. We have banded together, and we will conquer it, for that is what our Lord demands of us. For this is what we were created for, to complete his tests and trials.
Coronavirus is a contagious illness that has killed so many and will keep hurting people unless we take it seriously. Let’s try and follow the rules, do as we’re told so we can get passed it as quickly as possible and with as little lives lost as possible.
We,as a public, are not the perpetrators; we are the victims. Of course, we are. Have we looked around, however? Have we seen what kind of world we live in?
Right now, we are all fighting for our lives together. Not as a city or a country but as the world. We are all in solidarity with each other. We want everyone to survive. Luckily, or not so luckily, we all have our own personal media channels now that transmit across the world. So now we are all basically practicing the same duties as a news channel. I’m not saying every individual has the same responsibilities or sworn duties, but most people sure do act like it.
What happens when there are millions of media channels, and they all are representing their point of views? What happens when everyone says different things about the same problem and shoves it in our faces as the truth?
My family is spread out around the world, as is the case for a lot of people. I am thankful for technology that I can see them and talk to them at this confusing and scarytime.
Nevertheless, my concern stretches far beyond my family and friends.I know everyone understands that feeling. Our humanity and compassionshines through in unique ways. We want to help. We want to do something to change what is. We want to hold your hand when we see you writhing in pain. We want to comfort you when you can’tleave your homes to bury your dead. When we can’t do any of that, we pour our hearts about it on the internet. This can be a great release; we need something to do while we sit here locked up in our houses watching the world burn.
That’s when the urgency to post and convey those kinds of messages and information is felt. We are desperate. We want things to change; we want to be helpful. Our minds are working faster than our bodies ever can under the circumstances. Let me tell my neighbor to stay home because he could be this guy who coughed up blood and died. Let me explain to my sister that she could be hooked up to 5 different machines and not able to see her kids for weeks. All that information flows out. All the information about what to do what not to do; Sometimes it’s accurate, sometimes its just something we read or hear from someone.
I’m sure our hearts are in the right place a lot of times. It is crucial to pass on information. It is even more vital to ask people to stay safe. Remind people HOW to stay safe. Reminders like if you’re staying home and washing your hands, you will be fine. Also, thank you for doing that and helping all of us stay safe. Remember, staying in, is not just safe for me and you, its safe for your friends, family and those people whom you desperately want to help.
Spread these kinds of messages. Everyone using the internet shouldn’t become a news outlet.
Not all information is the right information. Also, not all information is essential.
Right now is the time, more than ever, to cut through the clutters of our mind and accurate information before we put it out there. We could be saving someone’s life. After all, isn’t this how it all started? Didn’t we just want to help? We didn’t know what to do, and we started posting what we thought was useful.
Look.
Stop.
Google.
Search.
Consult a friend or a colleague who is in a related field.
Gather the credited useful information.
Share.
One message. One search. One phone call: 30 minutes. That’s the difference between solid information that can help brighten someone’s day that is fighting for their lives on the other side of the globe and scaring someone without providing any helpful information.



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A thing of beauty is a joy forever

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