Tuesday, October 27, 2009

From tragedy to hoax

One news story that seemed to be everywhere two weeks ago was that of 'The Balloon Boy.' Now, it is quite silly to think that such a story would exhibit newsworthiness, which is "the value of any particular item to a news organization." News stations were providing live coverage of the balloon in the air and during its landing. It even cut away from a live broadcast of President Obama in New Orleans. This story attracted such attention because it was such a bizarre story about a young boy's life in danger, which consequently triggered the audience's emotions and concerns over his safety. This is a perfect example of Surette's definition of a media trial, "in which the media co-opt the criminal justice system as a source of high drama and entertainment." When this news story first unfolded, it was presented as "breaking news" and was dealt with on a very serious level, as you can tell in the youtube video below:
The news reporters followed this story with great concern and described the great lengths authorities took to aid the boy. 
However, once the truth behind this story was revealed, respect was lost and it was portrayed by media as a hoax. It even resulted in a "Balloon Boy Halloween Costume.
This article from New York Magazine deals with this issue as a joke. It jokes that "The best part about dressing up as Falcon, though, is that when you get drunk and vomit on yourself later in the night, you can pretend it's all part of the costume, and instead of people being disgusted, they'll respect you for your devotion to authenticity." The Balloon Boy case is similar to the example Lambiase gave in "The Problem with All American Girls" which focused on the evolution of a murder coverage. It is interesting how quickly the media changes its standpoint and portrayal of the same news story as new evidence is received.   

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