prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Archive for March, 2014

Cannibalism, Cable News Style

Posted by prof e on March 30, 2014

newsI can’t take credit for the catchy title…it is a line by Joe Concha of the website Mediaite. Concha is referring to the over-the-top coverage of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 by one cable news network in particular, and how other networks have taken to bashing CNN for their overboard speculation and sensational reporting for the past three weeks. The thing that is most disconcerting about the coverage is that there has been very little new information to report. Imagine being asked to fill the airwaves for 24/7 for three weeks with little to no new information. This kind of over-coverage has made CNN and easy target for competitors MSNBC and Fox News.

CNN has taken this “all-in” approach before with the Boston Marathon bombing and the Trayvon Martin story/trial. Critics of MSNBC and Fox News have pointed to MSNBC’s obsessive coverage of Governor Chris Christy’s Bridgegate and Fox News’ relentless coverage of ObamaCare.

For now it appears that CNN has found success with their approach. Wall-to-wall coverage of “Breaking News” (regardless of whether there is anything currently “breaking”) seems to be attracting ratings and advertising dollars…and that will no-doubt ensure that the practice continues.

Concha was interviewed by Howard Kurtz on his show Media Buzz. You can watch the clip at the link below.

http://video.foxnews.com/v/3410330300001/pundits-sniping-over-missing-plane/

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Disaster du jour and Limited Attention Spans

Posted by prof e on March 17, 2014

carjackLast week I was late for work because I was watching a live, high-speed car chase near Denver. The driver had car-jacked a vehicle which, unfortunately, had a 4-year-old in the back seat. At times going the wrong way on the interstate, the suspect was involved in several accidents and car-jacked two more cars before being captured by police. You can see the highlights here.

In the end nobody was hurt, but at any point in time it could have turned into a disaster. It can be hard to look away from real life as it is imploding. Maybe it is the novelty that comes from the possibility that you’ll see something that has slipped by the gate-keepers and editors.

Live television and breaking news can be a powerful combination. Watching events unfold and listening to reporters and anchors search for words to describe the indescribable is unscripted TV at its best and worst. The best is the energy and excitement that comes with the immediacy and urgency of the dramatic pictures and sounds. The worst is the exploitation of disaster and mayhem for ratings.

According to some, the recent wall-to-wall coverage of the missing airliner, Malaysia Flight 370, is another case of media exploitation. While reporting has given way to speculation by a long line of experts and analysts, audience members continue to flock to their TVs to watch the story unfold one drop at a time. The New York Times is reporting that the story has led to exceptional ratings for CNN. But CNN’s coverage has not been without its critics. The Times reported that “comedian Bill Maher, referring to the CNN founder, posted on Twitter: ‘Ted Turner wishes he was dead so he cld roll over in his grave.'”

Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that the coverage of Flight 370 has distracted us from paying attention to Russia’s play for the Ukraine…which was a distraction from the atrocities in Syria…which became the topic of attention after we grew bored with the uprising in Egypt…which…well, you know.

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