Understanding media hype

Media hype can be dangerous and quite disruptive; but as a Public Relations actor, I am guilty to an extent, of creating some of it, in the past. There are two ongoing cases of media hype one disruptive and the other simply misleading and annoying.

Let us start with the disruptive one involving Liverpool’s Egyptian star, Mohammed Salah, a truly talented African soccer player who has without a doubt had a great season, scoring multi-dozen goals and helping take his team to the Champions League finals, after a long absence playing at that level.

Just like most of you–I believe Liverpool will lose the final to Real Madrid–but Salah can go on to play and possibly win at that level, in seasons ahead if he sustains the quality of his game, as fans have witnessed during this outgoing season. But there is only one problem…media hype!

As a Red Devil and a freelance sympathizer of the President’s favorite premier league club, I have no problem if Salah’s Premier league ‘stock value’ collapses next year; but the young man is Egyptian so in the spirit of the African Union, I wish him well.

The CNN sports crew has been stalking the young man and for this whole week, have been hyping up their upcoming exclusive interview with him which airs this weekend. This, coupled with millions of other media mentions around the world, it will take a strong character for him to stay grounded and focused.

Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the greatest, in that order, have withstood critical scrutiny to sustain their craft at the very top, dominating both club and individual accolades in the last decade. At 25, Salah is at his peak and shouldn’t pay any attention to media hype if he’s to emulate the La Liga stars.

Fortunately, for sports media hype, it doesn’t hurt anyone except for a few broken hearts of fans. But the same can’t be said of international politics where the media hype machine is navigated at the expense of lives of children, women and men.

First awarded in 1901, the Nobel Peace Prize today has a 117-year mixed heritage of scorn and respect with dozens of its previous recipients and selections having been criticized as undeserving of the honour.

It appears 2018 is likely to produce arguably the most controversial winner of the Nobel honour if the awarding committee allows itself to be swayed by the ongoing media hype around President Donald Trump’s ‘peace aerobics’ in the Korean Peninsula that is likely to culminate into a meeting with Kim Jong Un.

Now that the world has come to terms with the fact that Trump is US President, we might as well come to terms with the fact that the man is talented and that he doesn’t win by accident but by sheer strategy. Any political observer should look closely for the method in Trump’s madness.

During the early days of the American election that would climax into his unexpected victory, I bought two books of Trump on the art of deal making; I remember then, a colleague in the newsroom, Dean Karemera remarking that he doesn’t read ‘self-help’ books on how to get rich.

As most Africans, I was in the Hillary Clinton camp but after reading the books, I was secretly scared for I knew the guy had it in him to win the presidency. From the books, I learned, no man becomes a billionaire by accident that’s why jackpot winners often die poor.

Psychologists study groups because nearly all human activities such as working, learning, worshiping, relaxing, playing occur in groups; politics is a group game and Trump, we should concede, is a master at group psychology, a skill he has used to his advantage winning him success in business and now in politics.

He has used this group psychology skill to get the media working for him, albeit indirectly. Now they’re about to win him a Nobel Peace Prize even when he doesn’t deserve it.

As a former Reality TV actor, Trump knows the psychology behind media decisions in deciding coverage and North Korea was a nice pick. But we must put things in their right context.

Trump would deserve the Peace Nobel if only he could end the raging war in Syria and offered shelter to thousands of immigrants seeking sanctuary in his country; instead, he is sanctioning more strikes in Syria while building walls around his borderline to keep away refugees.

His Administration is busy dismantling his predecessor Barack Obama’s institutionalized peace infrastructure, by seeking to null the Iran Nuclear Deal, risking creating new instability in the Middle East. It would be folly if the awarding committee honoured Trump as a peace maker under this context.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.


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