Author Julie Moos’ definition:
Hype is the discrepancy between the real value of something and the perceived value of that same thing.
She also provides the some criteria to help you decide whether a story is hyped:
Amount of coverage: How much time and space is this news occupying?
Dominance of coverage: Is this news taking over a platform (website, newscast, front page) and/or dominating several platforms?
Prominence of coverage: How prominent is this news? Is it leading a newscast, on the front page?
Type of coverage: Is the news trivial or vital? Are respected newsmakers acting as if it’s vital? Is the event unexpected, rare?
Tone of coverage: How urgent is the message, how intense the delivery? Are the graphics and images conveying crisis?
Context of coverage: What else could or should be receiving our attention instead?
Hype sells news -both time and web space and newspapers. Headline and teases grab your eye. The more lurid, the better. However, if that lead-in doesn’t live up to the reality, then the reader/listener/viewer backs off a bit more each time, learning maybe not to trust so much the next time.