Spinning on viral videos and viral TV News

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:03 pm  

So I guess all of us remember the Balloon Boy story. Right around that time our band of ICMers was discussing the disgusting viral video manipulation described in The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos. Something has been bothering me about those two seemingly unrelated stories and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I kept losing sleep over this issue till just a couple of nights ago a suddden realization finally came to me – viral video practices described in the article mentioned above have been practiced by our major TV networks for years! A prime example of this was the Baloon Boy story.

After first twenty minutes of the breaking news coverage on Baloon Boy I’ve seen and heard enough. I changed the channel from CNN to MSNBC only to find the same coverage, then to abc, same story. Without a doubt other news worthy, perhaps more important events were taking place at that very moment, but for nearly two hours all major TV networks put them all on a back burner and pumped the story that some news director decided was good TV.

A conscious and delibarate decision to dim lights on other stories and issues and to put a spotlight on this story by broadcasting it on all major TV networks and their affiliates was an example of viral TV news; differentiating from viral web videos only in terms of technologies employed and mode of delivery. The final effect is the same – viewers made believe that what they’re watching matters most because thousands of others are watching it too!

I’m not very found of the term gatekeepers when it pertains to TV news, but for the time being it seems the most adequate term. It refers to the level of control that news media directors have and exercise over their audience by not telling them what to think, but rather what to think about.

In case of TV news it is performed by news editors deciding which events will be turned into news stories and which will not. In case of viral internet videos it is accomplished by manipulating the number of hits a video or story receives. The result, again, is the same – viewers made believe that what they’re watching matters the most.

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