March 15, 2016
Yet another important Tuesday has come and gone as today primaries took place across the country in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. In this political season, it is even more important for news outlets to inform audiences about political topics. Despite the focus on politics, media types still have to break through to these audiences. As Vivian notes with the Ball State study, the average person spends 68% of their day surrounded by media. With the large quantity of exposure, people have become desensitized to media. Media occupies the background of tasks with little time spent actively engaged in media types. Here enters the task of breaking through the clutter to reach desensitized people.
In the world of politics, attention-grabbing headlines are used to break through the wall of desensitization and actually reach the audience to put politicians and social issues at the forefront of our minds. One way that media try to break through is by controversy. Another is through violent or violent rhetoric to grab attention.
Looking at today’s New York Times, the front-page alone shows both of these attempts with articles such as “2 Front-runners Find Their Words Can Be Weapons” and “More Protests By Labor Vex China Rulers.”
From titles like these one can see how journalists aim to report controversies like the protests in China or uses violent language like comparing words to weapons to break through the mundane and grab the attention of readers.
Online, the article “2 Front-runners, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Find Their Words Can Be Weapons” has sparked over 1000 comments. This shows how through a headline, the medium broke through the clutter. Even though the article started shining Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a negative light, the focus caused you to remember them more because of controversy rather than Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio, and the other politicians mentioned as they started to get lost in the clutter of the article.
The Media of Mass Communication, Chapter 1, pg 3-John Vivian