News coverage of dangerous trends


In the last year, CNN has covered two dangerous trends: a game called “Knockout” and another called “Neknominate.”

Knockout is a dangerous game that CNN started covering in November 2013. It entails one individual (generally in a group of teenagers) going up to a stranger and punching them with the intention of knocking them out instantaneously.

CNN has also reported that Knockout has caused more than one death in the Northeastern states of the US. Videos of teenagers doing this generally come from security cameras on streets, and news coverage showed these videos with the intention of exposing the game and impressing upon people really how lethal and irrational the game can be.

Neknominate, on the other hand, is a drinking game that has become trendy through social media. Videos are easily accessible and abundant on the internet.  Here, an individual generally downs a hefty amount of alcohol mixed with something else, takes a video of it and, upon finishing the drink, the individual nominates a friend to out-do them within the next 24 hours.

Videos show teenagers not only downing usual mixed drinks but, in an effort to out-do their friends, players have mixed in their drink with a dead mouse, goldfish, insects, engine oil and dog food. Five people have died from playing this game, all being men under the age of 30. News coverage battles social media and the spread of this openly videoed social trend.

While players of one game generally avoid social media (for the risk involved of going to jail or juvy), players of another game use social media as a form of pressure to encourage others to play. Either way, the news reporters step in not only to report what is happening but to prevent others from participating in social trends that appeal to one’s (generally teenager’s) dangerous need to prove themselves to their friends or to the public.

In my last blog post, I wrote about the dangers of news pieces including certain social topics. In this post, however, I’d like to acknowledge how using social topics in the news can put a much needed negative spin on social trends. Of course, these social trends are newsworthy partially because the harm coming from them are not temporary but rather fatal, and most players don’t realize that.

People who watch these videos of Neknominate on Facebook might see it as an exciting challenge or other, uninvolved viewers might find it fascinating that someone would drink liquor out of a toilet or successfully drink something with a dead rat in it.

The news’ video compilation presents the same content but instead of a bunch of kids sitting around a computer oohing and aahing at a friend doing something nasty, the video shows a wider audience how Neknominating is fickle and dangerous.