Sunday, September 04, 2011

Six Criteria for Identifying Hype

Julie Moos posts persuasively at Poynter that what some called stormporn wasn't. She provides criteria to help making such judgments that are actually  helpful. And she cites a type of news coverage where we see hype/sensationalism at its most egregious.

Though hype is, in part, the difference between individual and collective judgment, hype does not always need to be subjective or solitary. Here are some objective criteria for determining whether news is hype, disproportionate to its relative impact.
  • 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?
These criteria explain why journalists are rightly accused of hyping the disappearances or murders of young, white females and ignoring the disappearances of young, black females. The context of coverage, in particular, points toward hype: We pay unequal attention to girls in peril, depending on their race.

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