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Scoot's Blog

Tune in to "The Scoot Show" for lively, candid discussions about news, politics and culture with WWL's "Radical Moderate!"

Weekdays 1pm-4pm

Twitter: @scootwwl
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Scoot: Media giving us exactly what we want with missing airplane saga

Does the news of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 warrant the massive media coverage it is attracting?

Last night on The Scoot Show on WWL, a caller said that all he keeps hearing from the multitude of experts is “maybe,” “speculation,” and “we just don’t know,” and yet, with so little known over a week after the mysterious disappearance of a Boeing 777, cable news continues to treat the story as “breaking news.” CNN has had almost wall-to-wall coverage. Is this story worthy of such attention?

Several CNN executives, who asked not to be named, have justified the amount of time the network has been spending on the disappearance of MH 370. One CNN executive said, “It is a tremendous story that is completely in our wheelhouse.” Another executive said, “It’s an incredible mystery full of human drama, with an international element.” He continued, “Anything international plays into our hands because we have more reporters to deploy all over the world.” Still another CNN executive said, “One way to define ourselves is to go all-in on stories of human drama.”

Some media critics have criticized the attention CNN has given the mystery, but CNN has seen a boost in their ratings. Something I talk about often on the show is that the news is designed to attract an audience, and therefore focuses on elements that are important to any good drama. One CNN executive said that the news story about the missing 777 is dominating “water cooler talk” in offices and has dominated conversations in party settings across the country and they feel like they are responding to the public.

In January, CNN’s ratings were among the lowest ratings in the cable network’s history.  If the goal is to attract he largest possible audience – then should CNN be criticized for focusing on a news story that is attracting attention and increasing ratings?

Critics have certain criteria by which to judge and analyze entertainment – from movies to the news – and that criteria is often different from how a mass audience judges entertainment. We can all think of movies that are our favorite movies and we know some of those movies did not win critical acclaim and may even have been panned by critics.  So, who is right – the critics or the audience?

This is a much-debated question. But as long as the goal of the news is to attract an audience, news programs will be driven by a desire to focus on stories that contain elements necessary in any successful form of entertainment – human drama, mystery, sex, and death. To say that “news is entertainment” is not to suggest that it is a fabrication or that it is fun and enjoyable. Defining “news as entertainment” simply means that news-oriented programs respond to the stories that are quick to capture and hold the attention of a mass audience.

I can’t talk to a friend now who doesn’t ask me, “Hey, Scoot, what do you think happened to the plane?” and I’m sure you have had a similar experience.  As humans, we are naturally compelled to follow mysteries, and the disappearance of a Boeing 777 – referred to by pilots and air traffic controllers as a “heavy” because of its size – is a mystery. And the agony of what family and friends of the passengers are feeling bonds us as human beings.

Planes close in size to the 777 were used as weapons of terrorism on 9/11 – America and the world are sensitive to the idea that a plane could be used for terror attacks. That possibility adds further intrigue to the mystery. Where is the plane? Is it being prepared to be used as a weapon against the United States or one of our allies? These are the unanswered questions that continue to feed this story.

There is a great temptation for people to criticize the media for not reporting “real” news that is important to us – and yet – it is the audience that is actually telling the media what to focus on.

If you don’t like what you see on the news – you might want to be honest about the things that attract and hold your attention as a member of the audience.

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03/18/2014 6:34PM
Scoot: Media giving us exactly what we want with missing airplane saga
Please Enter Your Comments Below
03/18/2014 7:44PM
beam me up scotty
The plane the plane
03/18/2014 8:15PM
Real Name
I assume Scoot has a real name. Is he hiding his past? As far as I know, the other hosts use their real names. What's the deal?
03/18/2014 10:16PM
his real name is gay boy lover
03/19/2014 2:08PM
Attention, attention
If you don't like the host of the show or the blog why don't you switch to something that suits your taste?
03/19/2014 9:55PM
Scoot has been involved and a radio leader in N.O.He has an established past inthe city and a strong following goin back many years.He is a true professional.Keep up the good work Scoot.
03/20/2014 8:11AM
A plane has essentially disappeared. It deserves a lot of attention.
03/20/2014 8:47AM
a friend
Ran into u that Sunday evening w/ur lady friend in front of the double tree by Harrahs, I told u I lov. Ur show. Iam sheryl I was w/my husband. That was doing midcity n Thor parade. I think ur lady friend name is Marlene, for give me if iam wrong. But u have a gift....ur voice.! I know u know that. But when u talk I listen. God bless scoot.
03/20/2014 6:25PM
Your last blog about st Patrick's day first shows a very flamboyant gay man to sensationalize your blog. You are no different then the media you critisize
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