Sensationalism’s Newest Disguise

Maddy Avni, Staff Writer

Coming with the epidemic of “fake news” that began during the recent election, there has been a large increase in awareness of media sources. As social media news outlets put out articles of dubious origin, more and more consumers are becoming cognizant that the source of their news matters. By now, it is second nature to many of us to avoid articles with clickbait titles, pieces from news sites we’ve never heard of, and anything our grandmothers share on Facebook. Most of us would rather get our news from established and hopefully objective sources. However, there is an insidious genre of articles that walks the line between news and fodder. You probably encounter them every day, but do you realize it? I’m talking, of course, about social news.


Social news is a recent phenomenon that has cropped up with the increasing popularity of social media. It can take the form of a social media account, like many Twitter pages, or its own media platform, like Buzzfeed. Although the name might make it seem like social news is a happy medium between dry but informative news and fun but vapid social media, the truth is that it’s a whole different animal. Social news is so, well, new, no one really knows exactly what it is or whether we should be trusting it. I think, however, that confidence in it is misplaced. Despite its appeal, there are many signs that point to social news being an inferior source of information.


The advent of social news means that articles can spread with a speed unprecedented in the news industry. Many outlets of shady news, especially those trying to garner support for their biased viewpoints, are taking advantage of this fact. Sensationalist, opinionated, and outright false articles are finally having their day in the sun. We know to avoid the more blatant ones, but how many of us still read Buzzfeed News? How many of us follow Facebook pages and Twitter accounts in place of reading a newspaper? We, the consumers, are the ones who give social news outlets the power to spread, and in my opinion, it’s time to stop.


When you see an article that you think is social news, always, always, always fact check it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been reading and trusting Buzzfeed News for a few days or your whole life. In recent times, every aspect of daily life has become tinged with our own opinions, including social news outlets who claim to be reporting objectively. As sensationalist media invades both reputable sources and social media, resist it. Don’t let someone else’s opinions become your own.