Talk:Media circus

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Some of the events on this list I'm not so sure I'd call a "circus" in the pejorative sense (Columbine really was a big deal, and while it was in the news a lot, I don't think it was overblown). As the article even mentions, sometimes there is an underlying social issue behind them, and let's face it: the reason the media does this is because the public eats it up. At least in the United Kingdom, the media focusing Diana's death is somewhat understandable/expected. I'd call it a "media circus" in the United States, however, since we have absolutely no connection to Diana at all. By this definition, every U.S. presidential election is a two-year-long media circus. --Birdhombre 15:25, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Was Jessica Lynch actually a POW in the Iraq war. The reports I read suggested the contrary. Rintrah 6 July 2005 07:48 (UTC)

Hurricane Katrina[edit]

I removed Hurricane Katrina from the list of media circuses because, as a truly important story, it doesn't really fit on the list. There are a lot of other things that could probably be taken off the list, in fact. sɪzlæk [ +t, +c, +m ] 04:33, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

I agree. A media circus is specifically when the news media descends on a story to a ridiculous extent and camps out waiting for a result (hence the "circus" part of the metaphor). It's not just anything that gets a lot of news coverage. I thought the pope deathwatch was ridiculous, but it probably wasn't to the world's Catholics. The Florida recount is similar; we're talking about a US presidential election hanging in the balance and a landmark Supreme Court decision tipping the scale. That ain't a runaway bride. Moreover, there is no reason for this article to include a huge list in the first place. --Tysto 05:40, 5 October 2005 (UTC)
One strategy is isolate and forget. Create a playground called "List of media circus events". Let the kids draw on the walls there so they dont disturb the main article. Or, occasionally weed out the list here. Stbalbach 05:51, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

These stuck out to me as not really fitting:

  1. The death of Pope John Paul II (April 2, 2005)
  2. The election of Pope Benedict XVI (April 19, 2005)

-These were both pretty big events, not overblown media fetishes, as far as I could tell

Also the last Friends episode

I'm removing the Black Saturday bushfires. That was a big deal. Hundreds of people died. (talk) 11:56, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Florida Recount/Presidential Election of 2000[edit]

I'm going to remove the 2000 Florida recount from the list. That was a truly newsworthy story with an outcome that affected millions of people in a substantial way. When you compare this story to lets say, Elian Gonzalez, it is apparent what is a media circus and what is not. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) .

source citing for every single media circus out there[edit]

I think asking for sources for every single media circus event out there is uncalled for. This issue has the potential of being larger than just this article. For instance, I posted a "blizzard of 96" source back in May 2005 "Blizzard of '96" exposes media hype" an editorial by ELIZABETH A. DAVIS, Daily Beacon Editor linking to the daily beacon. This is a red link now, but Google has preserved a copy in its archive [1]

So there you have one editor of one newspaper saying that she thinks it was a media circus. Is that enough sourcing? Does a blog source count? The other side of the spectrum would be requiring that at least three PhDs from Ivy league universities declare that a particular event " was a media circus" and so that would prove it. If there's no substantial discussion on this issue, I am going to delete the fact tags from the article. Wikipedia policy says that fact tags should be used sparingly, and I think most of the events listed (for example, the Jackson trial) are unquestionable examples of media camping out to cover a story. [2] is this source enough? Do you really need sources on each of these events, especially if they might be red linked by this time next year? MPS 19:37, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

Well yeah, we need to cite a source when labeling an event a media circus. Otherwise the list is meaningless, its what a bunch of random wikipedia editors believe. With cited sources it actually has value. Who calls it a media circus, and in what context, is just as important as the label. It doesnt need to be an external link, it can be the quoted sentence from the source (which is better than links, which expire). What constitutes a source is well documented see the Wikipedia:Verifiability policy, as well as the Wikipedia:Reliable sources guideline. --Stbalbach 21:31, 1 January 2006 (UTC)
As an example on why we need citations, a google search of "baby jessica media circus" shows over 250 hits.. yet almost every one traces in origin back to this Wikipedia article. I tried but cant find a verifiable source. Im sure it exists somewhere--Stbalbach 23:20, 1 January 2006 (UTC)
Citing sources is a requirement, there's no disputing that. However, I don't believe that the section in question is aimed at listing events that were called by a third party a "media circus" (as in, someone saying this was a media circus). In the article we explain what is a media circus, the circumstances that identify it. We then list events and situations where it happened. It may not be possible to find a direct statement as to "this was a media circus". And that's particularly true for events that took place in non-English speaking countries, where the expression "media circus" does not exist (but situations with overwhelming media attention do). Verification may be empirical.
I'm drawing this from Stbalbach's edit summary, where he cited "original research" for naming events a "media circus" unless someone has named them as such previously. That's not really the case, and that's not what the article section is about. For instance, I witnessed the media circuses in the Brazilian events and the Portuguese one. But it is highly improbable that we're going to find a source that actually states something like the Casa Pia situation was a media circus, or The Casa Pia media circus, simply because the expression itself is not used in the countries where those events took place. Doesn't mean that those weren't media circuses, as "stated" by the contributors who added the entries. You see, a "media circus" is a general definition of a general situation where there's an excessive, or unjustified, media attention around an event. This may very well be defined by an empirical verification of how much space a particular piece of news got as it was unfolding. The fact that no one conspicuos enough went out and said (or wrote) that it was a media circus does not invalidate the practical situation of a media circus. And, as MPS said, it is, after all, just someone's opinion, since there's no such thing as an "official registry of media circuses".
That being said, I do believe that the opening paragraph for this section can be somewhat misleading in that regard, so I'll try to reword it to satisfaction. And I'll remove the tags. We can, however, discuss this further here, if needs be. Regards, Reduxtalk 17:57, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Look, a list of events that a bunch of anonymous wikipedia editors think qualify as a "media circus" is about as valuable and useless as asking random people on the street. If we cant quote sources then it shouldnt be in the article - not only on the grounds of original research policy, but on the grounds of the NPOV policy: "media circus" can be used for political purposes, to paint an event in a manner that supports ones position about an issue (including POV's about the medias role in society). That is why it is dangerous and out of line for Wikipedians to have open season on what is labeled a Media Circus. It's important to know who called it a media circus, under what context. For example, the OED uses direct quotations from published sources to back up its definitions, it doesnt just make up examples on its own. --Stbalbach 18:24, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Apparently, you missed my point. I said that it is not always possible to find a statement saying "that is/was a media circus", especially for events taking place outside of the English-speaking world. A lot of stuff added to Wikipedia gets included on account of the knowledge of users of events that took place in their country, location, or at least in a place speaking the same language as theirs (which provides for a certain proximity). And again, there's no official determination of a "media circus". It's not, in any way, an internationally standardized, objective reference. A "source" here would just be someone's opinion, probably a reporter's, or someone with access to communication channels. Under those circumstances, anyone could claim that the inclusion of an event based on the statement of a certain person/media channel is POV, and that would be mighty hard to dispute. Users include information based on their knowledge of events, and we have pier review to ensure the quality of the entries. There could be discussions here on whether or not this and that events were actually media circuses, based on our understanding or how much media attention certain events had and whether or not they were appropriate for the importance of said events.
Finally, you seem to be the only one with the opinion that the contributions for this section constitute original research. A claim that an event is/was a media circus is an observation of facts (at least in theory — hence the need for pier review, and so on), a classification based on the parameters that our own article sets for the term. Being that there's no official classification of media circuses and (this cannot be stressed enough) the fact that outside the English-speaking world the term will never be used, that's as valuable an input as any.
Btw, if one thinks about it as you are, what's the validity of this very article's definition of a "media circus"?? There's no official definition, so everything that is written there came from our contributors' general understanding of a general, colloquial even, concept. That's how the very article was written. By your own logic, it would appear that you should VfD this entire article, as POV, unsourced, based solely on "the opinions of contributors" (or obtained from a partial, disputable source that could be viewed as POV) and thus, useless. So make up your mind.
And what "violation of policy per discussion" was that? There was no discussion, you are the only one saying that there was a violation of policy going on here. The only other people to post in this discussion, MPS and myself, seem to disagree. Obviously, this is not clear cut, so please be more careful before asserting a policy violation based on your opinion alone. Regards, Redux 22:13, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Here's something from WP:NOR (especifically, the part in bold — I bolded it):
In some cases, where an article (1) makes descriptive claims the accuracy of which is easily verifiable by any reasonable adult without specialist knowledge, and (2) makes no analytic, synthetic, interpretive, or evaluative claims, a Wikipedia article may be based entirely on primary sources (examples would include apple pie or current events), but these are exceptions.
This seems to be exact case here. Regards, Redux 22:26, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

No, the article should not be VfD, media circus is a term that is widely used by many people in different ways. All Im asking for is when an example of the term is listed, that it be sourced - the reason is, the usage of the term can only be understood in the context of who is using it and how. Media circus has multiple connotations and which meaning is being applied to an event is relevant. I would imagine there are dozens of examples that can be sourced, why is this such a problem, how many examples do we need? This is not a "List of .." article it's an encylcopedia article.

  • A "source" here would just be someone's opinion, probably a reporter's, or someone with access to communication channels. .. That's exactly right, it's always just someones opinion, even for Wikipedia editors, which is all the more reason for it to be sourced, this is a reference work, not a public opinion poll. If I come here to reference examples of media circus it should be more than self-referential. BTW some of the events if you search on them in Google with "media circus" are entirely self refential with dozens of hits all pointing back to Wikipedia and no original source.
  • the inclusion of an event based on the statement of a certain person/media channel is POV .. actually it's POV when you dont back it up with an external source because your making it look like hard reality/fact, when in fact its just someones opinion. When you cite a source, at least your open and honest about it. It's certainly permissable to list other peoples opinions on Wikipedia when they are sourced, that is not POV, we are just reporting on what other people say, which is what we are supposed to do. Its when you dont quote sources that it becomes POV.

As you say, it is opinion if somthing is a media circus, so the NOR rule cited is not relevant because it's not easily verifiable and it it does in fact make an interpretive/evaluative claim.

For foriegn sources, you dont need to actually quote the term, just a quote that gets the same concept across, there is is allready one cited example like that in the article that doesnt use the exact term "media circus". --Stbalbach 00:17, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

I understand the point you're making, of course, but when you read the article itself, you see that a "media circus" is not exactly a simple adjective. It's not the same as saying something is "interesting", or "beautiful". Naturally, if we were going to state on any article that something is "beautiful" or "interesting", we must cite an external source that has referred to the object in question as "beautiful" or "interesting". The meaning of a "media circus", as we define it on our article, is a situation (any situation) where the media coverage is out of proportion to the event itself. That's why I quoted that passage from WP:NOR, it's something easily observable, to a reasonable person (very important, rules out exaggerations by any user). Example: the O.J. Simpson trial, the media went completely ballistic over it. A classical media circus.
Additionally, for the international events, there seems to be little to no point in linking a page in a language that users will not be able to read as a rule; it will not make it verifiable for the English-speaking user here on Wikipedia, especially if the page linked does talk about the event, but just doesn't refer to any exaggeration on the part of the media. Furthermore, for places with less internet traffic, or just less tradition of pointing out the exaggerations of the media, there just may not be an all-out statement about exaggeration in the coverage of some topic, even if it's a media circus, with a colorful tent.
When a user states that something was a media circus, hopefully (s)he will not be stating a mere subjective opinion about an event, but rather but rather listing an event in which the media coverage fits what we describe in the article as a media circus. Regards, Redux 02:45, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
I've been talking to some other editors, and as it turns out, it seems that the article itself wasn't too clear on what exactly is a media circus. Apparently, it is peremptorily POV, and its use necessarily means disparaging the media cover of an event. This changes everything. I will be rewording the article extensively to reflect what the term really means, and as for entries on the list that are unsourced, they will be deleted from the article, and reinclusion will be conditioned to providing a source that previously said something negative about the extension of the media coverage of any given event.I'll be waiting a period of no less than 24 hours and no more than 48 hours so that anyone wishing to post here concerning those changes has time to do so.
And especially, thanks to Stbalbach for bringing this up in the first place. Redux 22:17, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
hmm.. well, thanks.. is there an archive of this discussion online, or was it IRC/email? I'd be interested what the rationale is for calling it always disparaging of the media. I hadnt thought of the term as being entirely pejorative, that it might have some neutral use. But the more I think about it, the more that makes sense. Why else use it except to cast a judgement, since the term is POV to begin with. This is similar to McMansion, and probably should have a similar lead section, describing it as pejorative, when it was first used, its metaphorical implications. For the examples they just need a google search of "event + media circus" and most of them should find a quote, wouldnt take too long. If not, move them to the talk page so someone in the future can work on it rather than loose them entirely. --Stbalbach 02:46, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
Actually, the discussion is right here. I was actually interested in getting more users involved in the discussion here, but from the start everybody was being emphatic about how it was, indeed, original research to label something as a "media circus", because it meant editorial judgement of the events. I was disputing that based on what our article is stating, which led to believe that...well, just read my earlier posts, both here and there. Naturally, I started to notice that there were too many users expressing a very similar opinion about the usage of the term, so I started to suspect that maybe my source — the article — could be wrong. Finally, Slrubenstein (talk · contribs) flat out said it: (...) the phrase is used rhetorically in an inherantly POV way (...). That, along with your comments, as well as the input of SlimVirgin (talk · contribs), Bkonrad (talk · contribs) and Jkelly (talk · contribs) convinced me that it was me who had it backwards. Redux 12:18, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
Ok thanks. Regarding the definition, I think it is pretty clear that it is a POV term: Media circus is a metaphorical term used to describe a news event where the media coverage is percieved to be out of proportion to the event being covered. Metaphorical term and percieved to be, these things mean someones opinion, a metaphor is a rhetorical device. --Stbalbach 15:54, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
media circus is not a metaphorical term as much as an idiom for media overemphasis on an event. I think we can all agree that "Media circuses" are perceived in the popular consciusness even if it is hard to verify that "X is a media circus", kind of like the Red state/bluse state divide and Missing White Woman Syndrome. Before edtining this article, I was editing another article called media hype which dealt with the same topic. This tendency of media overamplification, or rather the assertion that the media overamplifies, is as common as the assertion of liberal media bias and other popular assertions that may be popular fictions. Our job as wikipedia is to document these assertions and where they come from and some possible/asserted/common examples used when discussing the phenomenon. I would propose something like the ten blogger test, where if we can find ten bloggers/newspapers/editorials that use the words "the media blew this event all out of proportion" or "overambitionus coverage of this event" or "I am so tired of the media hyping this notherwise unnotable event." , then this is a necessary but not sufficient condition for inclusion in the list of media hyped events. I have reviewed the discussion and I agree that there are pejorative uses of the term 'media circus, but I also it would be possible to craft some sort of ten blogger test that would allow us to distinguish commonly though-of media circuses from malicious propaganda... separate the wheat from the chaff (or at least separete the chaff from the total BS). MPS 16:24, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

I believe that the article's incisiveness about what a "media circus" is, and what it means to label an event as such, is hurt by certain affirmations, especially when it says that it can be perceived in a number of ways, including (...). I feel we need to clarify that, so that there can be no doubts in the reader's mind about the meaning of the term.
About MPS's suggestion, well, the more sources the better, I suppose, but we must keep in mind that the list is merely illustrative, it should be there only to help the reader visualize, for lack of a better term, what has been discribed in the article. The entries need a source cited, this has been made clear, but I don't think we need to create too much of a procedure for inclusion. A basic guideline of requiring a source attesting that the event has been described as blown out of proportion by the media should suffice.
In fact, when I think about it, we are better off with a very short list. It would be overkill to end up with a list of 40 countries, each with three or four entries. If people wanted to produce such a list, then it would be better to start a "List of media circuses" (and link it here); and there we could/should set a higher standard for inclusion, so as to prevent it from becoming a mosaic of opinions. Redux 23:28, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

Quite frankly, having "citation needed" on every line is ugly as hell and redundant.

I agree. Removing uncited material. Cite tags have been there long enough. -- Stbalbach 02:34, 3 April 2006 (UTC)


I found this political cartoon when doing a Google Images search for "media circus." I'm not sure what would be the best way to include it in the list, but certainly this would work as a citation; this cartoonist believes the Lorena Bobbit, Michael Jackson, Harding/Kerrigan, Menendez Brothers, O.J. Simpson, and Clinton Health Reform media coverage in 1994 was circus-like. --Birdhombre 18:24, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

It would be a great image for the article, does it pass the Fair Use test? Im not sure it would qualify. --Stbalbach 19:14, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately, I'm not sure it would qualify as fair use either; see Wikipedia:Fair_use#Counterexamples. It seems unless we're commenting on the cartoon itself, it's not fair use. I wonder if perhaps it would qualify as an "illustration" of the term media circus, though. We could also just link to the cartoon, but I'd be afraid the URL would change later. --Birdhombre 20:08, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Just to add a bit more information on the image: it's on the cartoonist's website at, which also notes All Images Copyright Rob Rogers. United Media is the contact for licensing and copyright information. I'm new to Wikipedia images, so I'm not sure where or how this type of image fits into the fair use rationale. --Birdhombre 20:20, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

non-pejorative use[edit]

Regarding this recently added section:

Despite a news issue being accused of being media circus, in some cases, increased coverage may not be entirely without social value. For example, critics suggest the Laci Peterson case may have been amplified because it concretely represented and solidified the opposing views and vocabulary in the abortion debate, i.e., whether someone could be tried for the "murder" of an unborn child [3] [4] as compared to the "termination" of a fetus/pregnancy. If so, accusations that it was a media circus may be unfounded.

I think we need to see a specific quote of the term "media circus", in what context it was made, who made it, and why. This article is about the term "media circus", not a general article about the media pros or cons (a discussion of which would be POV). --Stbalbach 22:55, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Take your pick [5] do a CTRL-F search on "media" MPS 23:38, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

(re)moved uncited events[edit]

The following were (re)moved from the article to here for lack of citations. The cite tag was in place for about 3 months or more and no efforts were made to correct the problem. Cite tags are ugly and distract from the quality and integrity of the rest of the article, they can't be a permanent solution.--Stbalbach 02:41, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Out of curiosity, what term was used to describe the acknowledged media excesses at the Scopes Trial, the Floyd Collins cave rescue attempts, the Lindbergh kidnapping and the Sam Sheppard trial, all of which were covered to death by press, radio, newsreels, and TV in the last named? I see the Floyd Collins incident being termed a Media event, with radio interviews with the man dying trapped in a cave,. I recall the term media event still being widely used in a critical or pejoritive manner in the 1960's and early 1970's. Edison 03:27, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

I added Corby again since I found 2 RS for it. Greglocock (talk) 11:07, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

OED missed a couple of earlier uses[edit]

The article says "According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known use of media circus, in published print, was in a June 29, 1978, Washington Post article: "Princess Grace herself is still traumatized by the memory of her own media-circus wedding to Prince Rainier in 1956." (section B1)." A search found the following prior uses:1)Gelman, David, Greenberg, Peter S. et al, "Ringmaster at the circus," Newsweek. New York: Jan. 31, 1977. Vol.89, Iss. 5; pg. 77. Source type: Periodical. ISSN: 00289604. ProQuest document ID: 1098541. Document URL: (subscription) retrieved Dec. 20, 2006. "Brooklyn born photographer and film producer Lawrence Schiller managed to make himself the sole journalist to witness the execution of Gary Gilmore in Utah....In the Gilmore affair, he was like a ringmaster in what became a media circus, with sophisticated newsmen scrambling for what he had to offer." (emphasis added). 2)Kifner, John, "Massachusetts Isles Wave Secession Flag," Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1857-Current File). New York, N.Y.: Apr 6, 1977. pg. 50. Source type: Historical Newspaper. ISSN: 03624331. ProQuest document ID: 75063334. Text Word Count 606. Document URL: (subscription) retrieved Dec. 20, 2006. "Mr. McCarthy came to the town meeting last night to plead his case, opening his case by nodding disparagingly toward the bank of television lights and cameras and apologizing for 'bringing the media circus into town and disrupting your town meeting.' (emphasis added). How are these not earlier uses than the one cited by the article and by OED? Edison 21:29, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Yeah OED doesn't always get it right. BTW they have a way to submit entries online if you ever wanted to help them update their records (not sure the URL). My only qualm with this is:
The first known published use of the term
This suggests there is some authority behind the claim "first known use". Since it is just us editors searching databases that counts as original research. Have we searched New York Times archives, Washington Post, LA Times, New Yorker? There must be others. I found this book from 1976 mentions it. -- Stbalbach 22:59, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
Their bogus claim should be deleted entirely. Then we can include 1 or 2 early cites we have found which are earlier than theirs find, perhaps yours from a book and mine from Newsweek, which had wider circulation than the book and qualify them some how if not as "the earliest" then as "an early," as much as I hate weasel words. We now have 3 earlier uses than the one they cited. I did search the NY Times archive. It was supposed to be in the TV program listings earlier, but I could not find it reading through the listings. Perhaps bad character recognition, or just the juxtaposition in 2 separate adjacent sentences. Edison 03:13, 20 December 2006 (UTC)
OED makes no claim that anything is the oldest universally, it is just the oldest listed (I guess if you've never seen an OED entry it wouldn't make sense: they list about 5 or 6 quotes sorted in chronological order - this quote happens to be the oldest one - not the universally oldest one, but the oldest one listed in OED). Some people take it for gospel that the oldest in OED must be the oldest in existence - sometimes that is true - OED does try to find the oldest, so it is significant and carries some interest - but OED makes no claim to it being universally true. Anyway.. hopefully the new note is more clear. I have The New Yorker archives on another computer and will try and see if anything older turns up there. How old was the TV listing? -- Stbalbach 05:08, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

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