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TV News Hyper-coverage and the Representation of Place: Observations on the O.J. Simpson Case

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From June 1994 until October 1995, the television news industry constructed and sustained a window of saturating hyper-coverage surrounding the O.J. Simpson double-murder case. Coverage of the Simpson case provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the contemporary media practice of hyper-coverage and its possible effects on the frequency and manner in which places are reported and hence represented in television news broadcasts. Drawing from published critiques and statistics of the Simpson coverage and a preliminary content analysis of ABC World News Tonight broadcasts, this theoretical paper offers three observations: (1) the Simpson hyper-coverage altered the frequency, prominence, and metaphorical context of news about Los Angeles; (2) the Simpson hyper-coverage reduced the frequency of non-Los Angeles domestic news coverage and eclipsed the prominence of international news locations; and (3) the Simpson hyper-coverage led to the Simpsonization of domestic news (i.e. television journalists using the events in Los Angeles as a central metaphor around which to contextualize the presentation of other national news events and locations). Exploration into the Simpson media event provides insight into contemporary television journalistic conventions and how these news organization practices shape the representation of places in American popular culture.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

Publication date: 1997-08-01

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