Handling hype…

Once again Poynter has come through with a great overview of how to tell when a major story has been hyped.

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.

One thought on “Handling hype…

  1. I’ll have to defend the crews who had to cover Irene.

    I’ve seen the wind damage a hurricane can do to a town along the Gulf Coast even though the building codes are very stringent (Katrina doesn’t count since it was a levee failure – though I will say is seeing NOLA in person right afterwards was surreal…and the smell).

    A slight change in meteorological conditions (the dry air from the Texas death ridge wasn’t entrained) and Irene would have been deadly to New York/Connecticut/Rhode Island. Houses there are wood, trees are not trimmed and buildings do not have hurricane shutters. Break a window in 70+ MPH winds from a tree branch flying and your roof will blow off from the increased interior pressure.

    While yes, some of the reporters out there were f’ing idiots and much of their dangerous antics should have been stopped (WTTG’s Tucker Barnes comes to mind as well as that female reporter on Long Island who got swept off her feet in a storm surge), most stations I looked at I would say did not over-hype the storm. Its only because Irene didn’t slam directly in New York as even a category one is why people have the luxury to point fingers.

    If the dry air wasn’t entrained into Irene, she slammed into New York City with 73+ MPH winds, and the media only gave updates via tickers as Ms Moos seems to be implying she wanted…what would the critics be saying?

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