Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Miami TV news operations exist for one reason: To scare the sh*t out of you!

So there I was scanning my Facebook newsfeed for important news stories when this headline jumped out at me: "Davie girl OK after bite by garden snake."

I clicked the link which led me to the website of a well-known Miami TV station ... you know, the one with "Plex" in its name.

The only reason I clicked is because I figured there had to be more to the story. After all, if it was a non-poisonous snake and the girl was OK, where's the story?

Here's what I found:
A South Florida girl and her father had a scare Tuesday after she was bitten by a snake in her neighborhood.

Davie resident Martin Castro said he and his daughter were walking outside their home, along Southwest 71st Terrace and 40th Court, when suddenly she started crying.

Castro said he picked her up and saw what had happened. "I started panicking because I didn't know exactly what it was, but I saw the bite on her leg, and that's when I noticed it was a snake because she was pointing it out to it, and I got a little, I got scared."

As it turns out, Castro's daughter had been bitten by a common garden snake, which is not venomous.
That's right, there was no story.

However, there are about a dozen phrases that send Miami TV newsrooms into overdrive...and "snake bite" is one of them. "Shark attack" is another. You get the idea.

But in South Florida, there's a higher likelihood that someone will die a horrible death in a fiery car crash on I-95 than there is that someone will die from a snake bite. (A four-year-old boy from Bryceville, FL, died last month, one week after being bitten by a timber rattler.)

Deaths from snake bites are extremely rare. In the United States, about five people a year die after being bitten by a poisonous snake.

But don't take my word for it.
It has been estimated that 7,000–8,000 people per year receive venomous [snake] bites in the United States, and about 5 of those people die. [Source: CDC]

Thousands of people are stung by insects each year, and as many as 90–100 people in the United States die as a result of allergic reactions. [Source: CDC]

The fact is you have a greater chance of dying from a wasp or bee sting than you do of succumbing to a snake bite. But no Miami TV reporter will ever include those facts in a story of this kind.


Because TV news directors have a dirty little secret that they don't want you to know: TV news operations don't exist to inform. Their sole mission is to scare the sh*t out of you.

Here's how another TV station covered the story. They even scrambled a helicopter.

Listen to Local 10 reporter Neki Mohan describe how the snake "jumped out of the bushes."

Wow! A jumping snake?

Tell me more, Neki!

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