Monday, October 19, 2009

Balloon Boy Hoax or Publicity Stunt?

By now, everyone knows that initial suspicions proved accurate – that the Colorado family was not truthful about the fate of their son and the silver balloon.

We watched the television coverage last week and hoped that nothing tragic would happen to the little boy. We were mesmerized by one man’s creativity to develop a unique balloon, but at the same time, we were horrified about the tragic event that seemed destined to happen from that same balloon. Then suddenly, we heard the announcement that sounded too good to be true: the boy was safe – he had been found at home and had never been in the balloon.

As we breathed a collective sigh of relief, something sinister was unfolding. But, was it really something sinister? The media provided immediate coverage of this so-called “breaking news” story. It was the media that planted the seed about a hoax. And it was Wolf Blitzer’s interview that led to the boy’s statement: “we did this for a show.” So, the media definitely contributed to the publicity factor. But, we also learned that the father had called the FAA before he even called 9-1-1 – why would he have the phone number for the FAA – how many of us have that number?

If the Colorado family staged this entire event to gain publicity, they made a mistake. They are not Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, or other young Hollywood actresses who, for whatever crazy reason, receive countless chances at redemption. If the Colorado family wanted 15 minutes of fame, they should have helped their three sons do something special for disabled children in their area. Publicity should not be used for staged stunts – it should be a positive tool.

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