The Daily Gamecock

Carnival Triumph incident grossly exaggerated

Sensationalism in media reflects decay in societal values


As kids we used to gather around campfires, eat junk food and hear stories from grown men whose years of experience have shown them unfathomable phenomena. Now if I ever want to hear a horror story, all I have to do is check any major news network, and last Thursday was no exception. The story of the Carnival Triumph is peculiar. I had seen hostage situations and manhunts unfold before me but never something like this. Hundreds of people waited helplessly on what had been called a “floating Petri dish” after the plumbing on the cruise ship broke. The tortured souls could see civilization from the deck of the ship, but they could only sit and wait as they putted closer to a place free of exposed sewage, at the speed of a lawn mower.

As I was watching CNN anchors struggle to pry information from phoned-in children aboard the ship, I had no idea why I had been glued to the television screen for the past half-hour. I was sitting comfortably from my home, thousands of miles away, with a crawling ticker giving me real-time updates, all of them grotesque and none of them engaging.

The difference between the Carnival Triumph and most other events covered by 24-hour news networks was the uncertainty or, rather, the lack of uncertainty. There was little to no danger involved in this story. We were told that the ship was simply without power and plumbing, and outside the implied risk of being on any kind of sea vessel, there was nothing inherently scary enough to strike fear into the viewer. After 10 minutes of watching the broadcast, viewers knew how this story would end.

America seems to be infatuated with train-wreck TV. Programs no longer have to supplement actual noteworthy stories or compelling characters if they can just make you glad that you are not a part of the scene, and even news broadcasts are included in this. Rather than reporting incidents as they are, media often sensationalizes every event and exaggerates human behavior. Reality TV shows like “Dance Moms” and “Gypsy Sisters” are perfect examples, and the line between news and TV shows is beginning to blur. Stories about the Carnival Triumph did just that: buy into the decay of American entertainment.