Sensational is an adjective that describes something or someone as inciting interest and excitement. It can be used when details about a topic are presented in a particular way so as to incite the most interest or excitement. Also, it can simply be a way to say something is great or awe-inspiring.
The adverb form is sensationally.
Sensationalistic is the adjective form of the word sensationalism.
Sensationalism is a noun for the act of using details and information in a way to incite fervor or excitement.
Sensationalist can also be an adjective or a noun for someone who practices sensationalism.
In short, sensational can sometimes be a synonym for sensationalistic, but not always. And when one wants to be clear about the meaning of sensational, the more clearly defined sensationalistic is preferred.
Southend United midfielder Michael Timlin could make a sensational start in tonight’s crunch play-off clash with Stevenage at Roots Hall. [Echo News]
“The newspaper has been writing sensational news tarnishing India’s image,” Mr. Kumar said. [The Hindu]
Boldly courting the kind of debate about how (or whether) the Nazi death camps should be depicted that dates back at least as far as Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah” (1985), “Son of Saul” is likely to draw admiration and outrage alike: Does its uncompromising restraint and formal rigor serve as a corrective to the sensationalism and sentimentality favored by Hollywood, or does it merely substitute one form of exploitation for another? [Variety]
He left office apparently harboring the same belief — that a sensationalistic media is always missing the important story, which coincidentally happens to be the one most flattering to him. [Boston Herald]