The Media That Cried Wolf
MEAN IRENE! MONSTER! MONSTERCANE! Well OK, even I’d read that last article, but I for one am already getting tired of the media coverage surrounding the potential visit of Hurricane Irene to the tri-state area this weekend. And it’s only Thursday. [Ed note: published early Friday morning.] Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not trying to downplay the significance that unusual weather like this might have, but I am also having a very hard time deciding just how much stock to put in the sensationalist claims the newsfolk are making. Between this week’s record-setting east coast earthquake and Hurricane Irene, well, the newsmedia is as happy as schoolgirls in the front row of a Justin Bieber concert.
So what’s the problem here? The media is simply trying to educate the masses (while beating the competition’s coverage of the exact same occurrence)…but the side effect of this magnitude of coverage is that it tends to make mountains out of molehills. Tiny incidents that end up amounting to nothing get so blown out of proportion that it leaves the newsmedia with little credibility in the eyes of its audience. Which, as we all know from childhood fairy tales, can mean that when something truly important happens, no one’s listening anymore. So far this week, Washington DC has been teased by California for its reaction to an earthquake while Florida has scoffed at New York for battening down the hatches in preparation for Irene. For every article warning of this potentially destructive storm, there are dozens poking fun at how crazed people are getting over it. Are these voices of reason, or seemingly harmless fun that could result in the loss of lives because no one wanted to be the one to truly heed evacuation orders? Only time will tell, and hopefully it’ll be the former.
The lesson (that will hopefully be learned SOMEDAY) here is that whatever your message may be, shouting it from the rooftops and drilling it into your audience’s mind until they can’t bear to hear it anymore is hardly the way to build trust and reputability. Prioritization is key, and once your message is successfully out there, either build upon its success or call it a day and prep for whatever might happen next. Because one thing’s for sure – there will always be something to happen next.
-Trish Salge, Sr. Art Director and Expert Sandbagger, The S3 Agency