This was actually the topic I discussed in my GRE essay, and used sharks and their media headlines as an example.
Although rare, these events are dramatized both by incessant media coverage and Hollywood feeding off of the "shark scare" phenomena. The recent media storm covers two great white shark (GWS) events: the recent bite that occurred off the coast of California, and the surge of GWS sightings off of Jersey Shore.
We'll cover the former first. The LA Fire Department twitter released this update (below) following the shark encounter:
You've got newsfixnow with this headline:
CBSNews covered the encounter as well:
Lets go to the dictionary...
Well, I doubt the shark considers the swimmer an enemy force, let alone was planning an all-out battle against him. And I doubt the shark was violent while trying to get loose from a fishing line it was caught on, most likely making this shark scared.
You know, now that I think about it, you can use BETTER HEADLINES. Take, for example, UPI's coverage:
But wait, it gets better.
A great white shark being reeled in by a fisherman bit a nearby swimmer near Manhattan Beach Pier in Los Angeles County, officials said.
The swimmer was taken to the trauma center at UCLA Medical Center where he was listed in stable condition. The injured swimmer was conscious and able to breath on his own the the entire time of his rescue.
Congratulations Danielle Haynes, you did a good deed by reporting on a story that, yes, has "media appeal" but did not take it out of proportion to villanize an animal that was most likely scared out of its mind.
Another reporter decided to cover the recent increase of GWS sightings off of New Jersey, titling their piece as:
It's summer, and someone took a video of a great white shark snarling alongside a boat off the coast of Cape May last month. Another was caught in the waters near Queens. Sharks were spotted in Long Branch and Seaside Heights not long after.
Pay passing attention to news and social media in recent weeks, and it would be hard not to believe the Garden State is being invaded by the finned beasts of pop culture nightmares.
Why could this point not be drawn through a title that did not include "killer sharks"? I'm sure a better title could have been made. While they tried to make a good point, in my opinion, the title detracted from it.
So what can be done about this? This is a culture-wide problem. We're attracted to drama, and sometimes flirt with fear. For the media to stop sensationalizing "shark attacks," we as a community need to let them know we won't allow it.
If we are to help conserve these animals, we can't have titles like this from the Daily Mail UK:
These image-slandering headlines have to go.
Replace fear with facts, and sensationalism with science.