Sensationalism in Yoruba newspapers: Not necessarily post-truth


A definition of sensationalism is that it is a type of editorial bias in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieces are overhyped to present biased impressions on events, which may cause a manipulation to the truth of a story (emphasis mine). For Yoruba newspapers and indeed newspapers published in other indigenous languages of Africa, sensationalism may not necessarily be to cause “manipulation to the truth of a story”. For Yoruba newspapers, the essence of sensationalism would be to be loud and obtain attention. The newspapers do this with the dramatisation of headlines to get readers’ attention and sell. In the paper I argue that sensational headlines in Yoruba newspapers are merely performative and this is in line with the culture of public communication among the Yoruba. This does not necessarily make such communication untrue or unserious. With copious examples of news stories and headlines from Alaroye, a Yoruba newspaper, I argue for the validity of the news contents of the newspaper despite the sensational style of presentation of its headlines. The paper also makes a distinction between tabloidisation and sensationalism and argues further that while certain contents of Yoruba, nay African newspapers may be tabloid, their sensational headlines are not necessarily post-truth.