Why do dead birds fall from the sky? Should you care? Seems like the news media likes to find connections in odd occurrences that continue to plague our country. The media it seems, loves a crisis or at least stories of animals dying en masse. Why is this news? It is certainly odd, one of the criteria for newsworthiness and it seems like there are an abundance of these events happening. This commentary on the recent avian news http://wp.me/pmsUw-1G suggests that this might be a case of human lemmings pushing each other over a cliff. View this video and then add your comments: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7211633n


22 thoughts on “Inflammatory News Stories or Journalism

  1. Premonitions, religious and superstitious omens have always been news. Even back in the days of the Romans, some may have believed they DID need to “beware the ides of March.”

    Mysteries and unexplained natural happenings are newsworthy because people like to try to find answers to them. I think it is frustrating to folks that there are things in nature that they can’t answer. People enjoy trying to answer these mysteries with either science or religion. And science and religion seem to always have some kind of an answer.

    Specific to the bird’s incident, people already started making claims that this was an omen to the apocalypse and others say it is an omen to the Mayan ending of the calendar in 2012. Both ideas try to explain what happened, but both come from different belief foundations.
    In a nutshell, sensationalism is just that… sensational!

  2. There are several articles on the World Press site that comment on birds dying in numerous states in The US and of birds dying in South America as well all around the same time. The Drum Fish deaths occurred only in the US and only in a specific pond with a specific type of fish which leads scientists to conclude that a disease of illness infected the area causing the deaths.
    Although there is not an explanation for the bird deaths, scenarios have developed as possible causes: loud noises causing panic in the poor-vision birds to take flight at night and weather patterns becoming too cold for birds to survive in. Considering the vast spread of bird deaths, the cold weather patterns seems to be most plausible explanation. Unexpected cold weather patterns can cause thunder to develop without a storm when the cold air suddenly rushes into warm air, explaining the loud noises that were heard in several states in the US.
    The only time religious explanations were given on the site was by people leaving their comments and most didn’t have any factual backing, just opinion. It’ll be interesting to see what the conclusion is once further research has be completed.

  3. I agree that while the deaths of these fish and birds is interesting, whether or not it is news worthy is a question. I agree with Jennifer that people want to be able to explain things and know why things happen. While I believe that it is important for scientist in the area to figure out the reason for these deaths I can’t help but wonder if the media is just trying to ‘stir the pot’. As there is no known reason for these occurrences and they are not involving the mysterious deaths of humans then why worry people with things that are unknown.

  4. I think these types of events are newsworthy because they remind us of our own mortality which typically causes fear. Unfortunately, the media does do a good job of heightening fear in the public. Fear always gets a response from people especially when we don’t understand something. This can be applied to scientific as well as cultural phenomena.

    There is usually a logical reason for everything and I think it is really important to figure those reasons out, so we can then find a solution. I imagine some of the mass deaths might be attributed to some kind of human interaction, and if it is a result of environmental damage, the media should report that, instead of sensationalizing it as some kind of apocalyptic sign just because we don’t have all of the facts. That’s just plain ignorant and irresponsible.

  5. I don’t think think was sensationalism at all. The video doesn’t really make any rash judgments as to why the animals died, and I actually think that a random mass death of fish and birds is newsworthy. Granted, this may be more appropriate for the local news then national, but its definitely at least above a puff piece, and is newsworthy. This probably wouldn’t have been news 15 years ago or so, but with heightened sensitivity to global warming, along with the fact that bees may be dying off (which would severely affect the human race), makes it more credible to go on the air.

    1. “Heighted awareness” for nature and its manifestations could have been a CBS consideration when running the story. Still, this story was arguably newsworthy for its odd and mysterious qualities, and gave time to several ‘theories.’ However, the story could have been framed differently through interviews with local scientists/voices of authority. The clip of the film “Birds” was irrelevant and challenged the professional standards assumed by news institutions.

  6. Anything that’s a break from the norm is a possible candidate to make the news, in this case it just so happens to involve 4000 dead birds. I found it funny how quickly clips from Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The Birds” were woven into the news story. Whenever I see features like this I wonder if it was just a slow news day and the editors at the station were looking for something that would keep the publics interest. With no explanation being provided about what caused these birds to behave in this way every person is entitled to voice whatever opinion they have, and people do love to speculate about these things.

  7. I found the video to be interesting. The mass death of birds and fish is something that I have never personally seen before and I imagine the experience of it would be odd. The death is a mystery and I believe that this contributes to the story because it allows the viewer to actively think. The story that is being presented to them allows the viewer to ponder the question of why did these animals suddenly drop dead? There is speculation of disease killing the fish and fire works spooking the birds.
    If just a couple fish or birds died then there wouldn’t have been a story. People are not very attached to wild birds and fish, but when the species of fish and bird become severely affected from a mass death then an interesting story exists.

  8. Birds are creepy. Dead birds are even more creepy. I tend to pay attention if I’m wandering about my world and a crow or raven is suddenly around and caws at me. I try to figure out if I was thinking something important at the time and I remember it. I remember vividly four years ago that I was in the mood to take a drive to do some trivial errand. It wasn’t really important that I head out at that second, but I had decided to go and when I opened the door to walk out to my car, I noticed that there were some 13-20 crows surrounding my car. They weren’t hanging around anywhere else in the neighborhood and I’ve never seen that many out there. But they were all on the ground around my car. This was mid-day, no one else around. I walked out saw them, looked around and then quickly decided that it was okay for me to go back inside and run the errand later. No big deal, message taken. I wonder what I would have done if they were dead birds. Ew.

    I’m sorry, but I think any large number of dead anythings is newsworthy. I don’t think it’s outlandish to consider that the world might be coming to an end when large numbers of dead things happen. It is certainly worth looking into. Dear so and so, birds and fish are dying and no one knows why. Is the world coming to and end? Sincerely, Fearing the Rapture.

    Dear Fearing, Probably not.

  9. I don’t think becasue the news medias have lack of news to report so they choose to report these kind of news. I do believe somehow these kind of news is meaningful. It is because it can remind us that our ecological environment is became weird and weird. Sometime we can’t understand the nature is because we don’t know the nature well, therefore, this kind of news is a chance for us to know more what is happening with our nature and remind us to care about the nature more. Of course, it is possible that the news medias didn’t think that much, they just want to get more audience to wathc their news because human are curious of everything.

  10. The death of the birds and fish is the mystery that really catches the audiences’ attention because they must surely think that how those odd tragedies occurred. I think this is how the media intends to make the news newsworthy by using the mystery of death to increase the awareness. Besides, the audiences might try to find the answers and causes of the incidents by following this media, so the news channel will obtain more audiences and rating. Nevertheless, if we think about the ecosystem, it’s very serious issue that why those wired tragedies happened. To sum up, we are curios about the causes of mass of death, and we will try to figure out how much those dead animals are, and why it happened, and what’s going on with the nature, so a lot of questions will come, and the news will definitely newsworthy.

  11. I think this story was newsworthy. It always important to remember that out nature does matter and the cause being unknown to these deaths could affect us as people in the long run. The media is to get the word out to the public about what’s going on within our world which is exactly what this story did.

    1. I agree with you, I hadn’t thought of this story in that way. It is important to understand what is happeining in nature. Great point.

  12. Stories like these reinforce in the reader his or her own conclusions because the objective answer is left open for interpretation. For the media, they’re easy to report because there’s no authority to tap that will provide the explanations needed to close the story. That’s not to say these stories aren’t newsworthy but, with the news media, there is an inclination to draw parallels between seemingly unrelated events. In the case of the CBS report, the viewer is expected to conclude that because of the proximity of the two events, the effects share a similar cause.

  13. I understand why all these deaths are newsworthy. We are always trying to explain everything, and when we can’t, it stirs up our curiosity. Moreover, it’s of human nature to try to relate things as much as they can. Thousand of deaths, few days in between is enough to destabilize people. It seems that every uncommon event is worth talking about, and could make news. The media decides which of them actually are in the news, but most of them are considered.

  14. One of the reasons stories like this show up every now and then, I think depends on whether it is a slow news day or week. I guarantee if there was another Lindsey lohan scandal, this story would get shoved way down the newscast that it might not even make it on air at all. As far the birds and the fish, the common denominator amongst many animals is the earth’s magnetic and electrical field. Our lifestyle constantly disrupts the, otherwise normal fields, which can hurt organisms ability to navigate. That could definitely be a possibility, amongst others.

  15. Birds falling from the sky will always be newsworthy because many people are concerned about crisis leading to disasters in nature, in social and economic life. The pubic is generally fascinated with images of glaciers melting, dead animals, polluted land fills, natural disasters and other images supporting the idea that “something bad” is happening to our world. It is interesting how the media evokes more fear by adding in the clip of people running and screaming while being attacked by birds.

    I think it would have been nice if they added a website for viewers to follow-up on the story to see if doctors actually found a cause for the events.

  16. There is always something to report in the news, good, bad, tragic, disaster, awkward, and all other kinds. Some people find some little stuff interesting and it really depends on the person who report it and who like it. Some people see it important and some people don’t.
    People these days relate many issues together trying to make sense. Of course, everything happens for a reason but sometime people just use wrong or weird reason which does not make sense to others.

  17. Seems pretty typical for the news media. They are always finding ways to exaggerate the truth and this is no exception. It was fairly obvious when watching this that the birds cant see at night so they ran into some stuff when they were scared out of bed. And the fish “had all the earmarks of disease” as claimed by some guy in the video. The news just likes to play to our fears because we will watch.

  18. I don’t think the news media should report nonsense news that people don’t care about. But I do believe some of the news has potential judgment towards the viewers. For example, if the news didn’t show the public what’s really going on in Somali, people wouldn’t know what’s really going on outside of the US. News media really want to remind the audience the effects that humans go through, and the ideal of serious causes that can affect people personally. I totally agree on the deaths of these fish and birds, but the main question is why it worth is to watch.

  19. News media noticed that animals dying en masse are very newsworthiness. To report ecological environment issues would grab a lot of audience’s attentions because people are concerned about the environment. Since there is a lot of chemical pollution around the country, it must impact wildlife in many different ways. Some wildlife maybe got impacted, some may not. In this scenario, the news media might be little over exaggerated in reporting this issue. In a scientific perspective, I believe there are many reasons can prove the mass of animals died at the same time. First, they are (birds) panic due to odd weather condition, such as sudden thunderstorms and lightning. Second, other human-made reasons like fireworks and loud noise from airplane also scare the birds. The birds’ vitality is very vulnerable. Some scientists noticed that the sudden extremely weather change, too cold to too hot during a day, is also a reason. Third, fish died might be due to the sea water sudden change pH level that fish can hardly survive in. There are many reasons causing death of wildlife. In the news, it states that “there is no toxin was found in causing the death of birds and fish”. I wonder how they can conclude toxin has no connection with the death of wildlife in a very short period of time. I think the intention of this news release is to make people to think what they’ve done resulting in others. Moreover, it is also referring to certain religious perspective, the omen to the apocalypse, it reminds people Jesus is about to come.

  20. It is really sad to know that this much of birds and fishes has died in just a week, now bringing that news up will bring listeners attention to why all of sudden 4000 birds died in one day, and will make those people who care about it, will work on fixing and knowing the main cause for the incident. However, the Media plays a very big role in gaining the attention of the viewrs. If the media is an honest media it should show whats happenning in the world and how other places where people are dying daily, but the media is not focusing on that. I agree with Dahir that media is very important in showing whats going on.

    why would people care about something without really getting to see and hear in detail what is going on at the exhibited show. Again, media is the player in this game.

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