The Daily Exaggerator

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Investigate how journalists grab your attention then create your own sensational headline for a current news story.

Critical concepts: sensationalism, spin, bias, fear mongering, media criticism.
Creative task: Sensationalise a news story and publish your own newspaper.
Author: Dr Jodie Taylor, SAE Creative Media Institute

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Sensationalism in the news media is a serious problem because it undermines readers’ and viewers’ ability to think critically about the information they are absorbing.

Watch the montage below and discuss what you think the editorial intention of these statements are.
Does any particular media effects model spring to mind? Clue: who’s Noam Chomsky?

Jon Stewart's Media Sensationalism Montage at The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

What are the social consequences of selling fear?

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And it’s not just an American thing…

ABC Q&A scandal and the mainstream media’s response.

On Monday 23rd June 2015, Zaky Mallah, the first Australian charged under Howard-era anti-terror laws, appeared on the ABC’s Q&A program as an audience member. He was given the opportunity to ask a question of the panel which caused a huge controversy and according to the Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull, demonstrates extremely poor judgement on the part of the ABC. Consequently, an entire review of Q&A has been ordered.

"Grave error of judgment" says Malcolm Turnbull after Zaky Mallah appearance

Other media outlets have also used this opportunity to defame the ABC, launching sensationalist attacks on the broadcaster as shown on the front page stories featured below.

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Does Mallah have the right to freedom of speech or, as Malcolm Turnbull believes, should the media do everything possible to limit the platform for Mallah and others like him to express their opinions? Mallah’s social media profiles are littered with violent rhetoric and this is undeniably alarming. But does photoshopping a black ABC flag into the hands of a terrorist distort our perception of the truth?

Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Zaky Mallah on Q&A

Your task: six simple steps to sensationalise any story.


Step 1
Investigate some of the writing techniques journalists use to grab your attention:

How to Write Sensational Headlines

Dissociated Press presents: The Fording Report A Special Report by Herman Fording In my long and illustrious career I have fabricated countless headlines; all of them brilliant, many of them tru…

The Headlines We Wanted to Run but Just Couldn’t

Headline writing is the darkest of arts-it’s just so easy to do wrong. The best headlines, after all, are a delicate balance of elements expertly combined: clever but not too clever, in-your-face but not too BuzzFeed-y, informative but not too wordy, catchy but not in a way you’ve heard millions of times before.

How to Write Click-Worthy Blog Headlines Without Resorting to Clickbait

You shouldn’t have to bait your prospects. Provide value in everything you write and prospects will naturally be drawn to you. Image source No matter what goals you have for your content marketing, you need to be able to write headlines that get clicked.

Step 2
Check out what’s making news in Australia by visiting one of the online print media sites below and read through some of the stories of the day.

Trusted, accurate, impartial – Australian Associated Press

AAP is Australia’s national news agency, delivering a continuous stream of breaking news, information and photographs direct to subscribers. Media companies have trusted AAP Newswire content for more than eight decades. Our news service sets the standard for accuracy, reliability, relevance and impartiality. With an international network of journalists, photographers and producers, AAP Newswire covers […]

ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

For the latest weather warnings in Queensland and NSW, search on ABC Emergency Use the top stories selector to choose top stories and features from your state or territory. Latest State & Territory News Latest Local News Select a local news region Please enable JavaScript to load the latest local news.

Step 3
Turn your news story into a front-page headline by sensationalising it with an attention-grabbing headline. You can copy and paste text from the actual news story you are referencing in the body of your article, but the headline should be your creation. Try and apply some of the techniques you discovered in step one to help you if you get stuck.

Step 4
Do a google image search and find a picture to match your headline. If graphic design is your thing, feel free to manipulate an existing image to make it more salacious like the ones in the ABC story above.

Step 5
Now that you have your news story, use the online newspaper generator below and follow the instructions to generate a new headline for your story. Make sure you copy the original news story text into the body of the article so we can see how you have transformed the sentiment of the piece.

Funny Newspaper Generator with Your Own Picture | Fake News Generator

Use this free online newspaper generator to create your own spoof newspaper articles. Just upload a photo and add your own text. Our fake news generator is super easy to use! Here’s an example of what your funny newspaper article will look like: The actual page will be full US letter size, and you can download it as a high quality pdf to print on your home printer.

Step 6
Add your sensationalised story to the class Padlet on the Contribute tab of Campus Online.

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FYI: My “FAUX NEWS” press pass above is an example of a culture jam. Make sure you’re in class next week as we will be making more culture jams like this one.