Surprise! It’s Trump again.

“Trump is much more deviant than Hillary and that’s why het gets more coverage”, says Adrian Roling, editor-in-chief of NOS. His statement on Trump comes down to this: news is anything that departs from social norms. Trump certainly does so more than Hillary, and, when asked about this in an interview on Trump-bias during the elections, the editor-in-chief admits to quantatively covering Trump more often than Hillary during the election period.

Harcup & O’neill (2001) add to that the element of surprise. They state that the element of surprise is, among others, a requirement news stories must generally satisfy (p.279). I think Trump coverage always meets this requirement: the man never stops surprising us. For example, the last couple of days nearly all media channels were flooded with coverage on Trump’s extravagant and outrageous comments during his UN speech.

In the end, it’s the unexpected that catches our attention everytime. We long to be surprised and flabbergasted. This sense of excitement is what compels media to cover Trump over and over again. But to what extent? How long will it take for the media to desensitize to Trump’s ever shocking statements?

Pieter ten Broeke & Britt Krabbe imply that the same has happened in The Netherlands with Wilders: he has been shouting on top of his lungs for so long that we have become completely desensitized to his message. His shock-effect has faded off.

They jump to a conclusion, or a warning one could say, that applies to Trump aswell. Desensitization to a radical message leads to silence. Silence eventually leads to normalization.

By Victor Berndsen


Harcup, Tony and Deirdre O’Neill. “What Is News? Galtung and Ruge revisited.” Journalism Studies 2:2 (2001): 261-280. Print

Partijdig waren het NOS Journaal en Nieuwsuur niet, maar ze hadden wel buitensporig veel aandacht voor het fenomeen Trump. 2017. De Nieuwe Reporter. 20 september 2017.

Weerwoord nodig tegen Geert Wilders. 2016. Trouw. 20 september 2017.



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