The Balloon Boy hoax is undeniably news now: Falcon Heene’s parents -- who reportedly planned the stunt two weeks in advance -- are facing criminal charges. But the question remains: Why did the TV news channels cover a runaway silver balloon for endless hours last Thursday with so few facts to report? (Watch part of Fox News' early reporting)
Reality TV has rotted media standards: The networks’ decision to wring melodrama out of the Heene family’s fears and unsubstantiated claims, says Frazier Moore of The Associated Press, is "endemic of the more and more seductive urge to dismiss truth, responsibility and other traditional values in favor of hustling for fame."
‘Balloon Boy’ reminder that TV is full of shams
Ratings trump ethics: "This wasn't really about journalism as an ethical construct, but journalism as a business," says David Folkenflik of National Public Radio. And the transfixing image of the careening, possibly deadly mylar balloon was a good sell: "Humans being human, we wanted to watch. And the cable news executives were desperate to help us stay glued to their channels."
Balloon Boy’s transfixing effect on the media
Non-news? Is there any other kind anymore? Especially in the age of Twitter, says Diane Mermigas on True/Slant, expedient gossip has replaced cautious reporting: "We are hopelessly caught up in a vortex of high-pitched overblown, overdone, non-news that encourages the savvy ... to use other people, social media and the press to advance their own agenda."
Balloon Boy Underscores Media Folly: We’re All Digitally Duped
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- 10 things you need to know today: July 29, 2014
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- How to trim $500 from your monthly spending
- Are there too many good shows on television?
- Comic-Con 2014: Everything we learned about Avengers 2, Batman v. Superman, and more
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
Subscribe to the Week