Today I was disappointed in reading that Joy Behar was leaving the talk show The View. Not because of her announcement to retire from the show, but because it was front page news, EVERYWHERE. After turning on my laptop to read the days headlines, I saw it on the front of Yahoo, CNN and The New York Times to name a few. On The Washington Post website, it was one of the top tags, on the front page!
I can understand that to some, her departure is saddening. Behar and Barbara Walters are the only remaining co-hosts since the shows premiere in 1997, but is this seriously big news? Have you ever examined the headlines and laughed or wondered exactly what makes it attention-worthy? It is apparent that society determines the popularity of events, based upon relation to hype, controversy, disaster or pure bizarreness. Which brings about the question: What makes the News?
Last month in Chelyabinsk Russia, a large meteor exploded over the city, injuring roughly 1000 people. It was also coincidentally the same day asteroid DA14 was to pass by the earth at a proximity of 17,000 miles, a rare event. For a few hours, the Russian meteor explosion was top news on websites and television stations. Later that afternoon asteroid DA14 passed by Earth, which quickly pushed the meteor out of the spotlight. For hours after, Brent & I browsed the news for updates on the meteor explosion. With little information found, we were perplexed about why it wasn’t being broadcast. With waiting years to see the asteroid and much hype and anticipation, millions of eyes were on the sky. Twitter and the internet were a buzz and nothing much was heard about the meteor that day. Where were the posted videos and pictures of damage and cleanup afterwards? Perhaps if it had occurred on a different day it would have been the most talked about news stories that day or week. Guess we’ll never know!
Controversy is an important factor when determining what makes something news-worthy. This week in controversial news, Mother Teresa’s sainthood was questioned, NYC began preparations to ban large sugary drinks and in television news, the show Mike And Molly came under fire for a racially offensive joke regarding Native Americans and Alcoholism which you can read here. Controversy intrigues society and brings about conflict and dispute. English writer William Hazlitt said it best: “When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest.”
Bizarre and humorous news stories are often a popular topic. Did you hear about the Canadian couple who were arrested for arguing about who got the last beer which lead to a chip-dip fight? How about a Mother who was arraigned for hiring strippers for her sons 16th birthday party? And don’t forget the man who now possibly faces jail time for laughing too loud…..in his own home! Quirky stories intrigue society because it is simply peculiar. Perhaps, we look for these stories to take a moment to laugh or merely compare our life to those with more “interesting” ones. Regardless, the offbeat stories are often the most popular, particularly when they include celebrities. Remember Anderson Coopers laughing fit?
With the available methods of sharing information it is safe to say that society dictates what is important, popular and newsworthy. Hitting a like button, posting on a social media site or clicking a link allows for news to trend and therefore allows society to control what becomes important.
I will now leave you with an interesting fact: News of a blog post written by my husband Brent that was Freshly Pressed, was shared on social media and viewed on WordPress over 13,000 times in one day. The topic: How to hold a hamburger properly.