Millions affected.

There’s a TV news rule that requires teasers to include the exact number of people that may be affected by a storm, forest fire, earthquake or other catastrophe. For example, an ABC news teaser on Mar. 12, 2017, reported that an upcoming snowstorm “has 60 million Americans in its path.” Where the excited anchor got this precise figure is never disclosed. Did the news staff add up all the populations of the states in the storm’s forecast path? And round off the number to a neat 60 million and not 59 million or 61 million. Is there a national Department of Official Potential Estimated Number Under Threat ? No, the acronym DOPENUT wouldn’t quite work. (Every Federal or state agency needs a cute acronym, but that’s another story.) Does the anchor simply make a guess, knowing full well that no viewer is going to argue that it was fake news once the storm hits and only 10 million and not 60 million are shoveling snow? And that 60 million sounds twice as dramatic than 30 million, and five times more frightening than 12 million.

File under: Teaserese, the original TV version of click-bait

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