Marches, massacres, and mayhem in the civil war period: Did sensational news always lead to sensationalized reporting?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

This chapter explores whether social identity theory accurately predicts how Civil War-era newspapers in Georgia and Colorado reported as they did on war-related barbarities that occurred in their home states. Two events were chosen for study: Union General William T. Sherman's March to the Sea and Colonel John M. Chivington's Sand Creek Massacre. War is among the foremost tragedies in human experience. It produces atrocities, shocking numbers of casualties, and uncommon cruelty, all stock subject matter for sensationalized stories. Sensationalized news has certain common characteristics, regardless of whether the topic is scandal, crime, or sex. Any newspaper might sensationalize a particular story, but sensationalism as a standard practice was uncommon outside the more competitive media markets, such as New York and Philadelphia. Social identity theory suggests that in times of war, sensational news about the enemy leads to sensationalized coverage. Social identity theory argues that vilification of members of the out-group is a common technique by those in the in-group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSensationalism
Subtitle of host publicationMurder, Mayhem, Mudslinging, Scandals, and Disasters in 19th-Century Reporting
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages317-338
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781351491471
ISBN (Print)9781412851718
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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  • Cite this

    van Tuyll, D. R. (2017). Marches, massacres, and mayhem in the civil war period: Did sensational news always lead to sensationalized reporting? In Sensationalism: Murder, Mayhem, Mudslinging, Scandals, and Disasters in 19th-Century Reporting (pp. 317-338). Taylor and Francis. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315129143