Discuss the Difference between Sensationalism, Conflict of Interest, and Checkbook Journalism


Sensationalism in media denotes exaggerating stories. Media companies generate profits through subscriptions, ratings, and views, thus exploit different tactics to attract viewership. Some of the tactics reporters or media houses use to boast advertising sales are unconventional and include clickbait or deceptive headlines. The headlines are exaggerated or distorted in a manner that lures people to open the link, subscribe, and read the “steamy” or “hot” content as indicated.

Sensationalism includes reporting stories that catch people’s attention and sell more regardless of the social, political, or cultural impact. It is essential to note some reporters are accused of sensationalism for reporting actual events even without exaggeration. Such occurs when an individual, organization, or government wants to hide details or truth from the public, but the media chooses to report facts without leaving anything.

Conflict of Interest

Conflict of interest describes a situation where a party has divided loyalties or interests to an individual or organization. As a result, the party is compromised because it stands to benefit from either side. When an individual or organization has a conflict of interest, it becomes unreliable due to conflicting responsibilities and personal interests. An example of a conflict of interest includes a tendering process where the procurement manager has close ties with a potential supplier. Such a manager is likely to vote in favor of his or her friend’s company.

Checkbook Journalism

Checkbook journalism describes a reporter or media company paying for stories. It involves providing financial incentives or compensation to a potential news source. Checkbook journalism is common when the subject is a celebrity, top government official, or a criminal organization. For example, a reporter can offer money or paid vacation to a prominent figure’s public assistant to persuade them to disclose personal details or information about their employer. Although checkbook journalism is an accepted practice, critics argue that it undermines journalistic integrity. Paying someone for a story makes them susceptible to lying or exaggerating information to sound relevant and appealing. Such individuals may also hide information and offer the side that favors them.

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