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Media circus

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Title: Media circus  
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Collection: Criticism of Journalism, Media Events, News Media Manipulation, Public Opinion
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Media circus

News media satellite up-link trucks and photojournalists gathered outside the Prudential Financial headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, in August 2004 following the announcement of evidence of a terrorist threat to it and to buildings in New York City.

Media circus is a colloquial metaphor, or idiom, describing a news event where the media coverage is perceived to be out of proportion to the event being covered, such as the number of reporters at the scene, the amount of news media published or broadcast, and the level of media hype. The term is meant to critique the media, usually negatively, by comparing it to a circus, and is considered an idiom as opposed to a literal observation. Usage of the term in this sense became common in the 1970s.[1][2]


  • History 1
  • Examples 2
    • Aruba 2.1
    • Australia 2.2
    • Brazil 2.3
    • Canada 2.4
    • Chile 2.5
    • Italy 2.6
    • Malaysia 2.7
    • Peru 2.8
    • Romania 2.9
    • South Africa 2.10
    • Ukraine 2.11
    • United Kingdom 2.12
    • United States 2.13
  • See also 3
  • References 4


Although the idea is older, the term media circus began to appear around the mid-1970s. An early example is from the 1976 book by author Lynn Haney, in which she writes about a romance in which the athlete Chris Evert was involved: "Their courtship, after all, had been a 'media circus.'"[3] A few years later The Washington Post had a similar courtship example in which it reported, "Princess Grace herself is still traumatized by the memory of her own media-circus wedding to Prince Rainier in 1956."[4] The term has become increasingly popular with time since the 1970s.

Reasons for being critical of the media are as varied as the people who use the term. However, at the core of most criticism is that there may be a significant opportunity cost when other more important news issues get less public attention as a result of coverage of the hyped issue.

Media circuses make up the central plot device in the 1951 movie Ace in the Hole about a self-interested reporter who, covering a mine disaster, allows a man to die trapped underground. It cynically examines the relationship between the media and the news they report. The movie was subsequently re-issued as The Big Carnival, with "carnival" referring to what we now call a "circus". The movie was based on real-life Floyd Collins who in 1925 was trapped in a Kentucky cave drawing so much media attention that it became the third largest media event between the two World Wars (the other two being Lindbergh's solo flight and the Lindbergh kidnapping).[5]


Events described as a media circus include:





  • Conrad Black, business magnate of newspapers, convicted of fraud, embezzlement and corporate destruction, imprisoned in Florida.
  • Toronto mayor [14][13][12]
  • Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka (serial killers)
  • Omar Khadr (Afghan war criminal, detained at Guantanamo Bay for killing American soldier, transferred to Canada, released on May 7, 2015 on the "promise of good behavior".)
  • Murder of Victoria Stafford, (8-year-old girl murdered for unclear reasons by a couple who have unclear relations to each other and the victim.)
  • Jian Ghomeshi, (CBC employee alleged to have committed more than a dozen sex assaults over more than a decade.)
  • Luka Rocco Magnotta, gay porn actor convicted of killing Chinese roommate and mailing remains to the Prime Minister and an elementary school in British Columbia.
  • Elijah Marsh, a 3-year-old Toronto boy of black descent who wandered outside in February 2015 in just a diaper, shirt and boots and froze to death.






South Africa


United Kingdom

United States

Cameras and reporters in front of the Strauss-Kahn apartment on May 26, 2011

See also


  1. ^ "Gilmore case turning into a circus for media". Milwaukee Journal. 1976-12-03. The worldwide attention that condemned killer Gary Gilmore is receiving has turned his case into a media circus Utah residents are saying 
  2. ^ Miller, Gene (1976-12-08). "Only in America - the Gary Gilmore Circus has everything but dancing bears". The Evening Independent. There is most appallingly, an only-in-America spectacle wherein a quest for justice becomes an extravaganza for the fast buck. Come, come, come to the circus. 
  3. ^ Lynn Haney (1976). Chris Evert, the Young Champion.
  4. ^ Washington Post B1, June 29, 1978. This is the oldest quote the Oxford English Dictionary has listed, although obviously there are older occurrences.
  5. ^ Brucker, R. and Murray, R. Trapped! the Story of Floyd Collins, University Press of Kentucky, 1983.
  6. ^ "When is enough Natalee Holloway madness enough?". Caribbean Net News. 2005-08-23. 
  7. ^ "Media circus comes digging for gold".  
  8. ^ Radio | ABC Radio Australia
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Global Voices - Brazil: Making a child murder into a media show
  12. ^ "Rob Ford's crack admission creates media frenzy". CBC. November 5, 2013. Retrieved November 14, 2013. 
  13. ^ Constant circus' around Rob Ford a distraction, councillors say"'". CBC. May 31, 2013. Retrieved November 14, 2013. 
  14. ^ "City hall tours relocated amid Ford media circus". CP24. November 14, 2013. Retrieved November 14, 2013. 
  15. ^ As media circus wanes...
  16. ^ The media circus around Chile's trapped miners.
  17. ^ The ‘Get’ Game Gets Going at Chile Miner Media Circus
  18. ^ Squires, Nick (September 23, 2011). "Amanda Knox compared to Goebbels by prosecutors". Telegraph (UK) ( 
  19. ^ Lim, Joyce (April 17, 2014). "Missing MH370: Day 6 and media circus in Malaysia shows few signs of relenting".  
  20. ^ Italia, Rakshande (April 17, 2014). "Desi Dialogues: Media's coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines flight appalling".  
  21. ^ "Peru police confirm Van der Sloot's murder confession".  
  22. ^ STIRI - Fenomenul „Elodia“, dupa doi ani
  24. ^
  25. ^ Fenomenul „Elodia“, după doi ani |
  26. ^ a b Taylor, Adam (March 1, 2014). "The Oscar Pistorius trial: Africa’s O.J. Simpson?". Washington Post. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  27. ^ a b Hiscock, John (12 April 2014). "Oscar Pistorius and the echoes of OJ Simpson". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  28. ^ "Media circus follows Melnychenko to Warsaw". Kyiv Post. October 28, 2004. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 
  29. ^ Sedova, Yana (December 11, 2005). Kyiv Press Bureau. LXXIII (50) Retrieved July 21, 2014. 
  30. ^ Knapton, Sarah (March 22, 2009). "Jade Goody dies after cancer battle bringing media circus to end". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  31. ^ Rodriguez, Linda (July 22, 2011). "No one outside of the media-political circus cares about the phone hacking scandal". Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  32. ^ "Master of media circus for Madeleine McCann". The Telegraph. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  33. ^ 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
  34. ^ (Elizabeth Davis, The Daily Beacon, January 12, 1996).[3]
  35. ^ "Elian moves home to avoid media circus".  
  36. ^ Newsweek, "Martha's Fall," March 15, 2005 [4]
  37. ^ "Lifetime's 'Untouchable' throws the book at Drew Peterson". Chicago Tribune. January 16, 2012. 
  38. ^
  39. ^ Casey Anthony Trial Media Frenzy Explained |
  40. ^ "Casey Anthony trial turned into media frenzy". Reuters. July 6, 2011. 
  41. ^ "Casey Anthony trial: Media frenzy at new heights". CBS News. 
  42. ^ "Trayvon Martin shooting: Debate over photos escalates". Yahoo! News.
  43. ^ "Jodi Arias Trial: An Over-The-Top Media-Spectacle". Huffington Post. May 22, 2013. 
  44. ^ "Jodi Arias Trial: Jurors weigh murder charge amid "real-life soap opera" spectacle". CBS News. May 6, 2013. 
  45. ^ "Jodi Arias trial attracts watchers from across the nation". FOX News. February 5, 2013. 
  46. ^ "In Arias trial, TV cameras never far behind". Yahoo! News. May 22, 2013. 
  47. ^ "Is the Jodi Arias Trial the Craziest in America?". Inside Edition. April 11, 2013. 
  48. ^ Ruelas, Richard (May 12, 2013). "Amid many trials, a frenzy over Jodi Arias". USA Today. 
  49. ^ Causey, James E (April 29, 2014). "NBA ban of Donald Sterling sends the right message". Journal Sentinel. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
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