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Media: My question to you

posted by Scot McKnight

Why is our media so fixated on balloon boy and his silly parents, while ignoring the judge in Louisiana who chooses not to marry an interracial couple?



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RJS

posted October 18, 2009 at 9:23 pm


Ah…you really want to know why the media defies common sense for their own brand of logic?
Should they fixate on either?



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Scot McKnight

posted October 18, 2009 at 9:27 pm


OK, RJS, I’ll grant you that one: no, they need not fixate. But the whole thing’s a hoax so they can get on a reality show. We’ve given them one. They’ll make money on this and get just what they wanted. Bury the story.



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jjoe

posted October 18, 2009 at 9:44 pm


1. The media loves to cover the media. I’m already seeing stories about the stories that uncovered the issues with the original story.
2. It’s that old liberal media. The same reason that if a tea party and a gay rights event draw the same number of people, you can’t escape media on the tea party while the gay rights event gets :crickets:



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AHH

posted October 18, 2009 at 11:49 pm


It’s not like coverage on the Louisiana judge has been silent. It was one of the front-page stories on CNN.com for a couple of days. Saw something where one of the late-night comics had a good line — think about the poor children of the mixed-race union, one could grow up to be President.
At least he didn’t try to give Biblical reasons for denying the marriage, which might have happened 30 or 40 years ago.
And yes, balloon boy (only about 50 miles from me) gets a silly huge amount of coverage. Not like that’s a new phenomenon. Remember the baby in the well (early 80s)? More recently, the nonstop coverage on Nancy Grace et al. if any attractive woman goes missing or is mysteriously murdered.
Sadly, I think they are giving us what interests us. If Larry King had done a show with this judge or the interracial couple instead of the balloon family, I bet the ratings would have been much lower. So maybe the question shouldn’t be about the media, but about why we get fascinated by such stories.



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kingskidd

posted October 19, 2009 at 2:19 am


Don’t you notice how the media at nauseum will focus on events that should just be a blurb in the news. The take mundane and sometimes stupid stories to steadily push before our faces. Maybe this says something about our society and the shallow things that so many are interested in. Or maybe these silly stories are a smoke-screen to cover up what’s really going on. I think it is some of both.



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Rick

posted October 19, 2009 at 6:17 am


As AHH pointed out, there has been coverage of that distrubing Louisiana judge situation.
I think the balloon situation is getting so much coverage because people got emotionally involved with the story at the beginning- as they watched the “drama” unfold over the Colorado sky. The the networks know they have the attention of people when they discuss these new twists, which means higher ratings.
People are not as emotionally attached to the Lousiana situation.



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Rick in Texas

posted October 19, 2009 at 7:05 am


I suspect that Rick above is right about emotional involvement. But I’ll bet the other factor is that we have told the media that’s what we want to know more about – my means of Google analytics and the like. We’ve said by our web hits that this is the story we’re fascinated by.



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Scot McKnight

posted October 19, 2009 at 7:21 am


It’s one thing to cover something; it’s quite another to give it front row billing the way our media can do when they want to. Yes, they covered it but they lot it drop and didn’t focus in on it the way it deserved. It was, to quote another, a “teachable moment” (missed).



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RJS

posted October 19, 2009 at 7:31 am


Of course the purpose of the media is not “to teach” it is not even “to inform” — it is “to make money” which translates “to entertain.”



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Rick

posted October 19, 2009 at 7:42 am


Perhaps, rather than depending on the media, this is a case in which the church needs to take responsibility for bringing it to the attention of people.



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Travis Mamone

posted October 19, 2009 at 8:19 am


‘Cause who cares about racism when a little boy just punked America?



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Clay Knick

posted October 19, 2009 at 8:22 am


Is racism old news? I wonder. The balloon story is too sensational to let it pass. But I hardly ever try to understand the media. Ratings=money, that what motivates them.



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MatthewS

posted October 19, 2009 at 8:26 am


This is Postman’s prediction, though, isn’t it? The important will not be censored, just buried in a sea of entertainment. If there is great video or a story with a word like “cheerleader” in the title, that story will trump an event that has important information but lacks the entertainment value.



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ChrisB

posted October 19, 2009 at 10:27 am


Because no one likes to be made to look foolish.



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Dan

posted October 19, 2009 at 10:33 am


Hmmmm… Video of a loose silver balloon with the possibility of a child on board at 5,000 feet. Something falls out. Hmmmm … I can’t possibly think of a reason why this video is more interesting than 2 people at a courthouse.



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Travis Greene

posted October 19, 2009 at 3:07 pm


There are many reasons, some nefarious, some mundane. Dan @ 15 is right that, in a visual medium, stories with easy-to-cut-to video will be privileged. But there is also the TV news hierarchy of people in distress:
very young>young>very old>middle aged
female>male
if adult, parent>nonparent
attractive>unattractive
American>non-American
white*>brown>black
*bonus points for blondes



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