There was no escaping the news: Captain Kirk has finally been to space for real. Thanks to Blue Origin, the hobby company of Amazon billionaire Jef Bezos. Why has this fact been published by all the media outlets in the farthest corners of the world? It’s because all the ingredients of a newsworthy story were there. No journalist could resist it. Let’s check out the seven ingredients of this magical cocktail.
Nothing better to attract media attention than the involvement of a well-known person. Just ask, say, Bart De Pauw or Prince Laurent.
Do you know the names of the three people who accompanied former Star Trek actor William Shatner on his trip? Most likely not. Had William not taken up one of the passenger seats, the news of yet another rocket launch would have barely garnered attention. If anyone will ever remember this space trip later it will be because Captain Kirk was on board.
Is this event relevant to my readers? That is the central question journalists ask when they have to choose from the wide range of news events.
The societal relevance of 11-minute space journeys can of course be debated. What is relevant, however, is the message that space travel is gradually coming within reach of ordinary (albeit wealthy) mortals. The sky is no longer the limit.
Is it happening here? Could it be happening here? Do I have a connection to those involved? The closer the event the greater the news value.
Measured in kilometers, this space trip took place far away, but for virtually everyone who walked the globe in the 1970s and had a television at home, Captain Kirk is a familiar figure. He entered our living room weekly, and now that we see him back in a spaceship – a real one this time – it seems like he was never really gone. Welcome home, captain! Proximity sometimes has nothing to do with actual distance.
‘Dog bites man’, surprises exactly nobody. But ‘Man bites dog’, that’s worth a headline!
A rocket that is shot 100 kilometers into the sky with a very elderly actor on board, that’s a more interesting story than if there were only a forty-year-old professional astronaut in it.
The first, the biggest, the most beautiful, the most expensive, … Media feast on superlatives.
With his blessed age of 90, William Shatner is perfectly cast: he can now officially call himself the oldest man in space. The concept always works. By the way, Blue Origin had a similar “first” on its previous flight: 82-year-old passenger Wally Funk then became the oldest woman ever to go to space.
News events that make us feel something always work better. See also: anything with children or puppies.
An actor who for years explored space from a cardboard film set, now actually going into space, that leaves no one unmoved, especially not William Shatner himself. This was also evident from the images of a visibly moved Shatner when he came back down to earth.
Timing is everything, even in the media. It’s no coincidence that on November 14, say, you’ll find a lot about diabetes in the newspaper. It’s World Diabetes Day.
In all honesty, it’s not entirely clear to us why Blue Origin chose October 12 as the launch date for the New Shepard. For the retired Shatner, another day would have probably been fine too. Although this fun news and the successful PR campaign around it came at a good time for Blue Origin boss Jef Bezos. He was in dire need of some positive press after the way his other company Amazon has been talked about in recent months. Mission accomplished.
So there you have it: news does not exist in and of its own: it is made. And if, in the future, you want to make news yourself, know that akkanto can help you with that. Feel free to contact us…