Shock Value Stories Deserve Real Journalism Too

By Jennifer Gardner

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As a journalist, some stories just make me shake my head. The latest ridiculous story masquerading as news was the story about the 9-month-old baby in Pakistan that was arrested and fingerprinted FOR MURDER and is currently in hiding.

Hold me back while I yell at these journalists for not doing their job. Shock value stories will get readers, but there is often a lack of significant reporting that accompanies them.

I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this story. The idea that a baby can be charged with murder is absolutely ludicrous. There has got to be more to this story than is actually being reported. The baby was charged because one of the policemen apparently complained that the “whole family” had beaten him up. It takes “taking things literally” to a whole new level.

The article briefly mentions the fact that the Pakistani police system is corrupt and has many issues but doesn’t go into much detail about it. If a police system is so corrupt and dysfunctional that it is charging a mere baby with murder, there are deeper issues that need to be investigated. I would love to see a follow up investigative piece about the Pakistani judicial system, but it’s not responsible journalism to publish a piece like this. It’s capitalizing on the shock value without providing much real journalism behind it.

Don’t get me wrong. This story did have some reporting, but there was so much lost opportunity with this article. Are there any types of articles that you commonly see that are lacking reporting? What can we do as reporters to combat this lack of informative reporting?

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3 responses to “Shock Value Stories Deserve Real Journalism Too

  1. I think you completely hit the nail on the head when you said this type of irresponsible journalism capitalizes on shock value without providing real journalism. It’s as if the writer thinks the story is so shocking that no one will notice how poorly written or researched it is. This problem is also recurrent when journalists try to be the first to break a news story. While being the first to report something is great, it means nothing at all if the story has holes. A careful, difficult balance must be struck, and I’m not sure anyone has found the perfect way to do it yet.

  2. I completely agree with you. Sometimes journalists report just enough to get the story done and turn it in in time and don´t really care about how it could be better and much more informative. This case shocked me when I read it too, but it didn´t answer any of the questions I had when I finished reading. I think the baby being change is a fact and it´s important to tell but that´s not the story. The story should be how a baby can be charge with murder? It just sounds illogical and everybody who has read that article have thought the same thing… Sometimes if the article does´t explain things like these, it sounds fake.

  3. Exactly! It was irritating because it sounded insane enough to be fake but there wasn’t any information we could judge the story on.

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