Why all the attention to a giraffe when nuclear threats are real?

Scoot Blog

April 17, 2017 - 1:15 pm

Considering tension is building between nuclear-capable North Korea and the United States in the aftermath of U.S. military strikes in Syria and Afghanistan, why would 1.2 million people tune into to watch April, the giraffe, give birth live on social media?

This is an easy question to answer.  With all the military tension in the world today, over 1 million people tuned into to watch the live birth of a baby giraffe, because it was interesting.  That’s it.

Whenever I do a topic that does not touch on the most serious issues of the day, I will get a few texts like, “Slow news day, Scoot?” or “With all that’s going on you are talking about this subject?”  I never take these comments seriously and I have never considered dropping the topic I was talking about, because a few people don’t understand media – or people.

There are topics that are so serious and their impact is so immediate that they are the focus, when those topics are breaking.  However, to emphasize only the most serious topics is to ignore the audience’s appetite for diversion that touches human nature.

What captures our attention in the media are the stories that are out-of-the-ordinary.  We are all bombarded by topics that carry life and death consequences nearly every day.  While humans are rightfully concerned about serious issues and big or breaking news, humans are also looking for distractions and the simple miracle of the birth of a beautiful and majestic animal, like a giraffe, serves as a distraction.

The news stories that have the biggest impact on our daily lives are not the stories that always get the most attention.  Rather, the news stories that get our attention are the stories that are covered and talked about.

The idea that “there are more important things to talk about” on any given day may be true, but the goal is to serve the audience and serving the audience means letting human nature be the guide. 

The birth of a baby giraffe has virtually no impact on our personal lives, but it became a news story that was included in nearly every newscast and covered extensively by all of the cable news channels over the weekend and again this morning. 

There is no question that news stories that have an impact on our lives today, or in the near future, are covered extensively and there is usually an attempt to let the audience know how a story affects them and why they should be interested.  But there are also stories, like the birth of a giraffe that may not impact on our lives, but it’s something human nature is innately drawn.

The fact that a topic that has no direct effect on our daily lives is covered on the news or talked about on talk radio does not mean the other more serious topics are not important.  But particularly in the United States, where the news media is driven by free market principles, the giraffe birth is an attention-grabbing story.

The birth of a new giraffe may actually have received more attention because of all the pressing tension filling the news and talk shows every day.  In humans, there is an instinct to relieve stress and the greater the stress - the greater the instinct to escape it.

When you consider all that is going on in the world on this day and the stress many are feeling over politics – we needed a heart-warming story to distract us and to remind us that the world is not all bad.



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