Exhibited by entire newspaper editing teams at our heroes' hometown papers, the Worst News Judgment Ever gets relatively mundane news stories placed in prominent locations (i.e., A1, above the fold, bannered across five or six columns, and with an overblown mug shot). Our heroes have an easy time finding whatever they happen to be looking for, usually seeing the paper in a vending machine. With that sort of placement, you don't even need to buy the paper it's all in the giant-print headline.
Usually, the news judgment is so wildly overblown as to cause disconnection from the audience; you will rarely, if ever, see a Lampshade Hanging pointing out this ridiculous fallacy.
While improbable in the real world, the overplayed story in question usually provides our protagonists with a Red Herring.
On the other hand, if the main headline is earth-shattering enough, one may start to wonder why there are any other articles on the front page at all. When the main headline reads "Extinction of Humanity Imminent", then how in the heck is "New Petitions Against Tax" newsworthy?
In a comedy or an old movie, will manifest itself at the end of a Spinning Paper montage.
There is also an inverted version of this trope that is usually used intentionally for ironic purposes: an important story (often describing the events that occurred in the movie we've just seen) is shown stuck in a corner on the newspaper, while a vapid story (such as a celebrity scandal) sucks up the headline space. The paper is showing terrible judgement by emphasizing the wrong story. (Given, among other examples, the protest of MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski over having to lead with a Paris Hilton story when there were several more serious stories worthy of attention, this could be considered Truth in Television.)
This variant is almost always used as a commentary on society's preoccupation with meaningless gossip, but it is sometimes used to show that the world has virtually ignored a story that would have changed everything (such as proof of the existence of aliens, vampires, or similar). In this case, it's not so much bad judgement the paper would have no way of knowing that the freak meteor shower was the remains of a destroyed alien invasion fleet but probably still counts as an example of this trope because the audience knows that the small story is actually of critical importance.
Sometimes this will be used as a joke; the "main", plot-important story is used as the main headline, with an even more important story stuck in a corner. For example, in The Trapped Trilogy, one newspaper main headline was about a serial killer escaping. A smaller one was the second coming of Jesus Christ. Some times you'll find comments about the lack of meaningful other news as a joke.
Often used to demonstrate that Old Media Are Evil. Likely to take place in school newspapers. Compare Coincidental Broadcast when used to relay plot-relevant information, and Yet Another Baby Panda when news broadcasts conclude with a fluffy piece. See also Local Angle. Kent Brockman News often features this. Contrast If It Bleeds, It Leads, where the only important info that gets reported to death is the most miserable.
- In the second Johnny Turbo mini-comic, Tony holds up a newspaper that had "FEKA's CD system failing in Japan!!" taking up the top third of the front page. Because low sales of a video game system is shocking, ground-breaking news.
- After a fight between giant Mecha in Bokurano, a newscaster announces that, despite the fact that a behemoth appeared nearby and many of the aquarium animals were lost, the dolphins probably escaped to the ocean. Much to everyone's relief. The behemoth appearance was also responsible for the deaths of thousands but hey, dolphins are symbolic.
- Weekly CITY Magazine in CITY, every week. Its publication consists of 2 pages of horoscopes, a page of manga, 4 pages of articles, and 93 pages of advertisements.
- Mika Masuko, the School Newspaper News Hound in Yes! Pretty Cure 5, has a tendency to put the story about the Bishōnen she keeps running into as the top story. The story about the five superpowered heroines fighting evil is far less prominent and more understated, if it appears at all. This, however, benefit well for the Precures, who want their identities kept hidden.
- In One Piece, anything plot-relevant will always be in the front page of the papers. Apparently, the characters (or at least Trafalgar Law) expect this, since at one point, he tells Don Quixote Doflamingo that if Doflamingo's resignation from the Seven Warlords does not appear on the front page of the next day's paper, Law will not return Doflamingo's head scientist back. There is no mention on what Law would do if the announcement happened anywhere else in the paper. Indeed, Doflamingo's resignation was put on the front page, though the same paper also mentions the teaming up of several notorious pirate captains, Luffy and Law included, placed in the newspaper's middle pages. Justified, however, in that Doflamingo has the clout needed to demand the press to put exactly what he wants into the papers in order to get what he wants.
- Drifting Classroom is about an entire school full of students and teachers which one day suddenly disappears for no discernible reason. Obviously, this would receive lots of media attention, since it's a case of lots of possibly dead children as well as something seemingly scientifically impossible. But when it's mentioned in the news report in volume 2, the report about it begins with the words "In other news..." So apparently a scientifically impossible mass disappearance of children isn't as important as whatever it was that the TV news reported about before it.
- In episode 14 of Happy Heroes, the news gives a lot of attention to a musician who... missed a note while playing a song.
- This web site lists several Silver Age Superman examples.
- In the Marvel Universe, the Daily Bugle has been known to devote the entire front page to op-ed pieces such as "Spider-Man: Threat or Menace?", complete with banner headlines.
- There was a fun story where Jonah tried to beat this habit, only for all his other ideas to be shot down by his editor. (For example, they tried to run a story about a supervillain's plot to kill New York with poisoned newspaper ink, which got shot down because it would make people paranoid about buying newspapers.) He eventually runs the "Spider-Man: Menace" story again, and the readership makes fun of him for beating a dead horse.
- In the very first Spider-Man story in Amazing Fantasy #15, Spidey makes the top front-page headline of at least four newspapers, apparently for doing nothing more than showing off his powers and webshooters in front of audiences. And this in 1962, the year, among other things, of Algerian independence, the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. And given that the Fantastic Four had been introduced the previous year, Spidey wasn't even the first or most impressive superhero in the Big Apple.
- In a Spider-Man arc by Todd McFarlane, Spider-Man went to Canada to investigate a string of savage murders allegedly committed by the Wendigo. During the arc, he encountered Wolverine, who revealed that a mundane human serial killer was the real culprit. The actual murders received banner 72 point headlines, but when the truth was revealed to the public, the retraction was buried on page 15 or so. Sadly, a case of Truth in Television (during the McCarthy hearings, while his flamboyant accusations were front-page news, whenever any of his accusations were proven wrong, the retractions were buried near the obituaries).
- In a TV news example, the X-Men saved the Big Applesauce from one of the Mole Man's creatures which Channel 4 talked about for all of 30 seconds, despite spending two minutes on "That useless tart dancing topless in a nightclub" to which Colossus replies, "Who is this Hilton girl again?"
- In an Ambush Bug letter column, a reader suggested that the Daily Planet couldn't be such a great metropolitan newspaper if it kept running headlines like "SUPERMAN FOILS ALIEN GORILLA HOAX — Presidential election results on page 32."
- Typical headlines in Transmetropolitan include things like "deranged artificial penises loose in water supply!" and "rogue Japanese ambassador starts 'onnabe' meme", some of the many reasons why Spider (himself a journalist) hates the city. Though once he harassed a senator for pictures of his penis, as a lead-up to a story on an illegal porn studio.
- "Monkey Business," in issue #67 of The Powerpuff Girls has the girls' apologies for ruining Mojo Jojo's restaurant business twice making the front page of the Townsville Times.
- An old Diabolik story had a journalist and his editor believing that the title character was a lousy criminal that Ginko made appear incredibly skilled to hide his own incompetence, and printed it on paper. For this, Diabolik murdered them in most spectacular fashion, as the King of Terror couldn't tolerate anyone threatening his status as The Dreaded nor insults to the one cop who actually keeps him somewhat in check.
- In one issue of X-Statix, a reporter cuts away from coverage of a charity event in order to deliver the exclusive scoop that Venus Dee Milo is a virgin.
- In The Defenders, Nighthawk has just rescued a young psychic woman who had been horribly experimented on in a lab run by a corrupt company that exploded afterward. Nighthawk tells the other Defenders how such an event will get huge attention from the media and he can't wait to see the company's horrible work plastered over the front pages. At which point, his butler comes up with a newspaper someone had just dropped off with the line "read it and weep." At first confused, Kyle is rocked when he finds a two-paragraph story about a building fire buried about twenty pages into the paper and realizes the company is going to get off scott-free for their actions.
- Ultimate Marvel Team-Up:
- Issue 2 has a Daily Bugle, with the fight between Wolverine, Sabretooth and Spider-Man in the cover, titled "Spider-Man: Menace?". In another sector, as a secondary and less interesting piece of news, "Sentinels take N.Y.".
- And then, Jonah and Robertson get in a discussion about an article about the mutant scare, and completely ignored Ben Urich, who was trying to say that a general called him and warned him that a destructive monster known as Hulk is heading to the city.
- Played straight in Apartment 3-G in June 2009, where a major news network breaks into programming to announce the return of a minor Tibetan lama from China. For bonus points, the reporter mentions the name of the man who accompanied him — Margo's erstwhile fiancée.
- In Bloom County, one story arc in which space aliens attack Earth with death rays and abduction beams (starting in Bloom County itself, of course) and harvest humans for food and sex slaves toys with this trope when Milo reports all of this to his editor-in-chief (who's already an alcoholic and a chronically nervous wreck) at the Bloom Beacon:
Editor: You mean you want me to bump my Jack Kemp adultery rumor story to page TWO!?
Milo: I didn't say that!
- In the crime-ridden big city where Dick Tracy takes place, a newspaper runs an above-the-fold story titled "Local Farmer Faces Foreclosure".
- There was an unsold Doc Savage newspaper strip that was shopped around to newspapers in 1936. (The first week's worth of strips were eventually published in Doc Savage: Manual of Bronze from Millennium Comics.) The first strip had a villain reading a newspaper that proclaimed as its lead story 'SAVAGE TO SAIL ON THE CAMERONIC', with a subheading 'Famous Adventurer Refuses Interview — Will Not Make Statement'. So the lead story is that someone is sailing on an ocean liner and refusing to talk about it. The mind boggles as to what the rest of the article must have contained. Although the placing of this article on page 1 is a prime example of this trope, stories like this commonly appeared in newspapers of the time. People were fascinated by the travel plans of celebrities, and if they were intending to travel they'd pick a ship based more on who they were sailing with than on the safety or comforts of the vessel in question.
- Found in FoxTrot, where Andy is watching the OJ Simpson trials. Suddenly, breaking news: aliens have landed and are now addressing the UN! Amazing! Now back to the OJ Simpson trials... Andy remarks that now she understands why Elvis shot that television.
- The title hero of Mark Trail loses his beloved puppy. This apparently is so important that the newspaper runs a two-column story on the disappearance, complete with an enormous picture of the dog.
- One political cartoon◊ involved aliens coming to Earth and saying such things as "We come in peace and bring a cure for cancer." Meanwhile the news reporters are running the opposite direction yelling "J-Lo had twins! J-Lo had twins!"
- Justified in A Rabbit Among Wolves when the response to the White Fang terrorist faction under Jaune Arc doing charity work is a story about whether Jaune is a crossdresser. Lisa Lavender sends Jaune her original draft which was about whether Jaune was a villain or a victim of circumstance, but her editor refused to publish it.
- The theft of fifteen puppies in 101 Dalmatians (1996) somehow makes the front page of a national newspaper, while the wedding of two nobodies is covered by The Independent. Of course this is Disney England, where the puppy crisis warrants a dozen or so squad cars to comb the Home Counties for these missing dogs. Never mind that there could be murderers to catch. If one treats the puppies as human children, then the theft of that many puppies would be equivalent to a massive kidnapping worthy of the attention of the nation's law enforcement officials.
- A continuing theme in All the President's Men, is how headlines for Watergate started small and grew larger. There are several scenes where Watergate headlines are overshadowed by stories that, in hindsight, were much smaller.
- An early scene has Ben Bradlee crossing out large portions of the article and saying "Stick it inside someplace."
- At another point, we see a newspaper with a headline about Eagleton dropping out. When the paper is turned over, we see that the Watergate story is below the fold.
- The one time Woodward and Bernstein get the top headline, it turns out to be flawed, showing that Ben Bradlee has reasons to be pushing back.
- Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which is set in 1980, sends this up by having Ron Burgundy and his crew effectively inventing the trope — at least as far as its use by 24-Hour News Networks is concerned. Stuck in a 2 AM timeslot and having made a bet with the prime time anchor that they could get higher ratings, they decide to give people what they want to see, so rather than actual news they present cute animal stories, tributes to American patriotism, gimmicky sports highlights, and celebrity fluff. This works spectacularly.
- Back to the Future Part II:
- In the alternate future (courtesy of Biff), Doc holds up a newspaper where the front page story is about how he was proclaimed insane and committed. While he is a strange, prominent figure in the town, it doesn't really merit the front page. Particularly implausible is the fact that "Doc Brown" is used to identify him in the banner headline, while the sub head refers to him as "local inventor" or whatever. Because yeah, only a minority of readers would require clarification.
- Jonathan Chait has harsh words regarding the editorial priorities of the Hill Valley Telegraph.
- In Batman & Robin, news of Bruce Wayne attending the opening of an observatory is the big front-page headline. Bemoaned by the Agony Booth here. "It must have been a slow news day". This example is particularly silly, given that Batman and Robin just fought Mr. Freeze in a very public battle with a whole lot of collateral damage.
- The Beatniks. Mooney thinks he'll become famous because "I SHOT THAT FAT BARKEEP!"
- The local paper in Christmas with the Kranks felt that a story about a couple not celebrating Christmas that year was worth being put on the front page. Really. Given that the townsfolk become an angry mob when they hear that the title characters aren't celebrating Christmas, what would stop some newspaper?
- Damien: Omen II. Death in freak elevator "accident" does not warrant a front page.
- The inverted version is shown in Dog Soldiers: The screen shows an article depicting the events of the film, only to quickly pan out, revealing it as a secondary story to the main headline (the result of an International Football match). The secondary story is about the only survivor of a British soldier unit who were attacked by Werewolves.
- Girl in Gold Boots:
Buz: Aha, front page!
Mike: Yeah, front page of the LA Times: '$40 Robbery, No One Hurt.'
- Give My Regards to Broad Street MUSIC EMPIRE COLLAPSES! as sole story on top of the fold of a paper.
- Lampshaded in The Great Muppet Caper. Kermit and Fozzie, playing reporters, spend the opening number surrounded by a balloon crash, a jailbreak, and general mayhem culminating in a daring daylight jewel robbery. This last, which sets off the plot of the movie, is the cover story in every major paper — except Kermit and Fozzie's, which runs the headline "Identical Twins Join Chronicle Staff". Their editor is furious not only because of the huge missed story, but because Kermit and Fozzie don't even look alike. That's because Fozzie had his hat off.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix not only averts this—a lot of the stuff would be important normally, but is often buried because of pressure from the Ministry of Magic—but makes the Spinning Paper trope work.
- Happens quite a bit in It Happened One Night, where Ellie Andrews' love life makes not only the front page of all the major New York papers, but is the top headline for every single one of them.
- A deleted scene from Hudson Hawk has Hudson learning his beloved pet monkey was killed in a shooting...as it's on the front page of the newspaper under "MONKEY SLAIN IN GANGLAND HIT".
- In The Italian, it's a huge headline and a big story in the newspaper when Corrigan the political boss's daughter gets sick. This is necessary to the plot so Beppo the protagonist can find out about Corrigna's daughter and take his revenge.
- Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter and "CRITICAL LESBIAN SHORTAGE".
- Libeled Lady, in which "PEER'S WIFE ROUTS RICH PLAYGIRL" is the front-page headline. It's even worse news judgment, because it isn't true, and the playgirl accused of trying to break up a peer's marriage sues for libel.
- The travel plans and marriage plans of French playboy Michel Marnet in Love Affair are fodder for radio commentators and front-page newspaper headlines.
- Low-budget D-movie Maneater is downright hilarious with this. At one point, it's revealed that USA Today and Entertainment Weekly are interested in a tiger killing some people in the Appalachian Mountains. The sense that doesn't make is extraordinary.
- A plot point in Men in Black; the stories about aliens you see in the tabloid newspapers are real, it's just that no one believes them.
Agent J: These are the hot sheets?
Agent K: Best investigative reporting on the planet. But go ahead, read The New York Times if you want. They get lucky sometimes.
- In The Mighty Ducks series, Pee-Wee hockey results making front-page news seems a little ridiculous even by hockey-loving Minnesota standards. It goes even more overboard in the sequel, where the hockey finals of Junior Goodwill Games not only get huge newspaper coverage, but the finals preview includes a giant Floating Head Syndrome image hyping Coach Bombay vs. Wolf Stansson.
- In My Name Is Bruce, an old newspaper has the headline claiming the birth of a two-headed horse. A smaller article announces a local spelling bee. An even smaller article mentions how one hundred Chinese immigrants were killed when a local mine collapsed.
- Apparently, in the world of My Pet Monster, a dog being the favorite to win a dog show is worthy of the front page.
- Spoofed in National Lampoon's Vacation where Chevy Chase is reading a newspaper with the headline: AMERICAN COUPLE MISSING AS JAPAN SLIDES INTO THE SEA.
- In Odd Squad: The Movie, the sportscaster blows off his duties in favor of covering the hyper-awesome Weird Team's exploits.
- Played with in the direct-to-video The Onion Movie. A woman witnesses a house explode on the other side of the street and calls the Onion News hotline. The following scene shows an Onion van arriving on the spot to report on her husband's missing socks, which makes the front page. The people in the neighborhood exhibit similar behavior, being far more interested in the presence of the Onion news team than the catastrophe that had just taken place.
- In Osmosis Jones, there are two instances. Frank vomiting on Shane's teacher manages to make the front page in major newspapers across the country. This starts to be Refuge in Audacity later, though:
Frank: I know your daughter, Hurley, had to transfer schools...
Mrs. Boyd: Shirley. My daughter's name is Shirley.
Frank: Oh, that is much prettier. Tom Brokaw called her Hurley.
- Later the newscasters for NNN are giving a desperate last broadcast after Thrax takes the DNA bead, saying they have "lost contact with the lower extremities", the screen flickering and sound full of static, when one starts to introduce a segment about "household appliances that can improve your golf swing!" This is lampshaded: the other screams at her for being a moron.
- This is a key plot point in The Paper: on the day when every other news outlet in the New York area leads with the story of the apparently racially-motivated murder of two white financiers, the eponymous newspaper, the New York Sun (which was actually an Expy of the New York Post, and not the Real Life New York Sun), led with a story about one of their columnist's cars being towed.
- In Patton, Patton makes a speech to a crowd of British women about how the Americans and British will rule the world, neglecting to mentions the Russians. Cut to newsreel proclaiming "Patton insults Russian allies". Possibly makes it Truth in Television. The Truth in Television version would've been even worse. Apparently, Patton did mention the Russians, but news reports didn't mention that. However, (in the film version) this would have to be seen in historical context — even the slightest hint of a rift between Russia and the West would have had incredibly far-reaching and potentially catastrophic results during World War II, and that conflict did have a decisive impact on history for the next 50 years, so it makes sense that that part of Patton's speech would receive dramatically more attention than anything else he said (which was otherwise just what people expected from such a speech anyway.)
- In Scary Movie 3, the news station that Cindy Campbell works for refuses to air her story about a killer videotape which anyone that watches it dies seven days later. This, however, doesn't necessarily make it this trope, as her story does seem rather out there. What does make it this trope is that they're instead more concerned with airing fluff news stories and stories about things like breast implants. Then, when they finally do become convinced that the tape exists, they get a copy of it and play it.
Ross Giggins: We're the only station that has it and we are showing it all night. (videotape begins playing)
- Sextette. Apparently, the sex life and consummation of an 85-year-old woman with a 32-year-old Brit is front page news across the world, instead of on Ripley's Believe It or Not! or maybe Faces of Death.
- Throughout Silent Movie, the headlines of the paper being shown all center around Mel Funn's silent movie project and his progress in recruiting first-rate talent for the picture. The second most important article on the front page tends to be about the newspaper salesman being repeatedly injured because the deliverymen keep throwing a large bundle of papers at him instead of leaving it on the curb.
- S1m0ne had a radio broadcast version when the reporter said that things like the threat of nuclear destruction have all been overshadowed by the preparations for the Academy awards.
- Spider-Man 2: "SPIDER-MAN NO MORE" gets a front page picture in the Bugle, while a story about Doc Ock gets pushed to the back pages.
- In Test Pilot, apparently every time Jim goes up to test a plane it is front-page, above-the-fold newspaper material.
- At the end of Van Wilder, the main character's love interest gets a story published on the front page of the school paper chronicling Van's expulsion hearing. That's not the poor news judgment. That comes into play when you consider that the "story" is more of a trashy gossip column, filled with embarrassing sexual details about the writer's ex-boyfriend. Those sort of pieces do get published, but even a student paper isn't going to stick that on the front page of the graduation edition. Or any other edition, really. Then there's the framed front-page story about the difference between light and dark beer... by a journalist who goes on to win a Pulitzer.
- In Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, a kiss between Rita Marlowe (who is a Hollywood celebrity) and Rock "Lover Doll" Hunter (still not used to the fame he caught from Miss Marlowe) makes headlines around the world in a montage. Lampshade Hanging occurs with the headlines from foreign newspapers dissolving to "RUSSIA INVENTED LOVER DOLL" and "LOVER DOLL MUST BE FRENCH!"
- Dave Barry mocked the once-prevalent use of this trope in political campaign ads in Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway. In his satirical campaign ads, both candidates used "realistic newspaper headlines" with illegible articles, the headlines detailing all sorts of atrocities committed by the opponent. In one of his year in review columns, he described the North Koreans becoming increasingly bored and annoyed since they invaded and took over the U.S. and it hadn't made the news at all. Eventually they figure out a solution: start a Reality TV show. The show is called something along the lines of We Have Taken Over Your Country Imperialist Pigs. Which quickly got canceled because nobody in the show was blonde.
- Left Behind: Every child on the planet has just disappeared, along with a great many Christians. The planet is plagued by horrific plane crashes and car accidents as a result. The Pope himself is gone, and the Catholic church has fallen into disarray. What stories do Global Weekly consider the most important to cover? A convention of Jews in New York, and a recent recall election in Romania. This stuff wouldn't be front page material on a slow news day.
- "Ladies and gentlemen, we have an urgent news bulletin! A minor reporter from the midwest who you have never heard of and who nobody but his 3 friends give a flying fuck about, is feared dead following a 'mysterious car bombing'! In other news, all children in the entire world vanished last night, experts say it was likely the result of 'excess electromagnetism' or some shit, so in other words we have no idea and it could happen again to all of us at any second. In sports news..."
- The hiring of a pilot for Air Force One is a major headline in the aftermath of the worst disaster humanity has ever known. note While arguably a prestigious position, even aviation magazines probably aren't going to be covering this event in light of everything else that's happened to that point.
- Harry Potter:
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry is lying down next to the window in order to hear the TV news to see if there is anything about mysterious disappearances or deaths, which would tell him that Voldemort is moving. Instead, he ends up hearing a newspiece about a bird that has learned water skiing in order to keep the heat away. Although it is made clear that this is the traditional silly/'feel good' at the end of the news bulletin and not a lead story. Harry is also sensible enough to note that if they had enough time during the broadcast for water-skiing birds, there clearly weren't any murders that day to report on.
- In the third book, Ron's family winning a large cash prize in a contest run by the paper is the leading article. Granted, the newspaper would want to toot its own horn, and they'd probably mention it somewhere on the front page, but that's still not enough to make it the leading story. Especially considering that barely a month earlier, a teacher lost his memory, a student nearly died, and a prominent citizen lost his position on the Hogwarts Board of Governors. And all this under suspicious circumstances, in a children's school which most wizards consider to be the safest place around. You'd think they'd at least have pointed out that one of the kids featured in the article was the girl who almost died at Hogwarts.
- As the fifth book shows, the Ministry of Magic isn't afraid of squashing the Prophet from running stories it doesn't like (and the Prophet generally is fine with complying). Given that the newsworthy events of the second book also involved the Ministry making very bad moves (Fudge wrongly arrested Hagrid and kicked out Dumbledore, still didn't stop the danger to the students, and ended up having it revealed that he and the Board of Governors were bullied into it by Lucius Malfoy), it wouldn't be that hard to see the Ministry downplaying those events, or having them ignored entirely.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: "HEIMLICH HOSPITAL ALMOST FORGETS PAPERWORK!" Wait until the readers of the Daily Punctilio read about this!
- In the Alex Rider series, the death of a small time journalist is on the front page. Turns out because he wasn't really dead, it was MI6 trying to scare him out of revealing the truth about Alex, so they had to make sure he saw the story.
- Featured several times in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, particularly Lost In A Good Book:
"Toad News Network was the top news station, Lydia Startright their top reporter. If there was a top event, you could bet your top dollar that Toad would make it their top story. When Tunbridge Wells was given to the Russians as war reparations there was no topper story — except, that is, the mammoth migrations, speculation on Bonzo the Wonder Hound's next movie or whether Lola Vavoom shaved her armpits or not. My father said that it was a delightfully odd — and dangerously self-destructive — quirk of humans that we were far more interested in pointless trivia than genuine news stories."[upon finding a new Shakespeare play] "He showed me a copy of The Owl. The headline read: New play by Will found in Swindon. The Mole had the headline: Cardenio sensation! and The Toad, predictably enough, led with Swindon Croquet Supremo Aubrey Jambe found in bath with chimp."
- Somewhat lampshaded in Jeffrey Archer's The Fourth Estate. Richard Armstrong goes into a tirade against the editor of one of his newspapers that led with "Extra Benefits for Nurses" while his rival Keith Townsend had his newspaper lead with "Top Pop Star in Drug Scandal". The editor replies that the pop star in question had never had a hit in the top 100 and was caught smoking a joint in the privacy of his own home. After Townsend pulls more stunts like a bingo contest and a nude on page three, Armstrong eventually fires his editor.
- In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the announcement of the Golden Ticket contest and the subsequent search for the tickets dominates newspaper front pages — and, in adaptations, television news as well — for weeks on end. Granted, the contest is Serious Business to most of the world, with people being driven to ridiculous and even criminal means to find the tickets.
- In Why Not Me?, the Franken-Lieberman victory in the presidential election is such a Foregone Conclusion that the top headline after Election Day is "PRINCE CHARLES KILLED IN POLO MISHAP!"
- Discworld book The Truth plays with this; while chief editor William de Worde believes it's important to put big stories that affect the whole city (like "Patrician Stabs Clerk With Knife! (He had the knife, not the clerk) in his newspaper, his business partner Sacharissa Cripslock focuses on more frivolous stories if they'll help sell the paper. They have a big argument about it but eventually decide to keep both.
- America (The Book) delivers a page-long "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the media for failing to be more confrontational in the run-up to the Iraq War, citing a defense of "But the last season of Friends really is news!" in mockery.
- HLN. Critics contend this spinoff news network of CNN places heavy emphasis on events or items of little to no news value — fluff human interest items, "Missing White Woman Syndrome" cases and "humorous" police news, dubious medical/consumer news and/or advice, "fads," Hollywood/sports news and rumors, overblown coverage of certain criminal trials (e.g., Casey Anthony, Jodi Arias), and confrontational editorializing — over-serious investigative/watchdog journalism and commentary.
- This is also heavy Network Decay at work— HLN was once known as "Headline News", which was just that, a constantly-going roundup of all the headlines, no sensationalism necessary, compartmentalized into a 30-minute wheel format. This was useful for people in airports and bars, and for TV stations in need of cheap news coverage (even some PBS stations aired it). But as the Internet came along and stole the network's cachet, it had to adjust to stay relevant. At first, it wasn't too bad (the first major revamp in 1999 merely split the network's schedule into 4 color-coded dayparts), but by the mid 2000s they had added longform programming under the "Headline Prime" banner, and it all went downhill from there. Hell, nowadays the Network Decay's gotten so bad you're more likely to see a rerun of Forensics Files than anything else, least especially news.
- The first season of 24, which was still in production when the 9/11 attacks happened, has a plane explode in midair in the first episode, and then drop off the news cycles very rapidly (and being replaced with "Super Tuesday Coverage") for obvious reasons. Later seasons somewhat avert this though.
- Lindsey's law firm promoting him to senior partner apparently got actual news coverage.
- The part where a minor heiress had her picture shown in a major fashion magazine in such a way to also include her father's bodyguard, a person who Cordelia is looking for when she conveniently decides to take a break and look through a magazine instead. Biggest Ass Pull ever.
- Just about every instance of the Bluth family landing itself in legal trouble on Arrested Development makes the nightly news. Reporter John Beard wants to be sure viewers know "What this means for your weekend!"
- Babylon 5. Londo is visibly annoyed when the article on him becoming Emperor of the Centauri is overshadowed by banner headlines about comedy duo Rebo and Zooty.
- Played for Laughs on Boy Meets World, where the news of Cory and Topanga's breakup takes up the whole front page of the school newspaper.
- Several of The Chaser's series have parodied this or poked fun at actual examples:
- CNNNN, similar to The Onion example, parodied this in the wake of a scandal surrounding AFL star Wayne Carey with "Iraq war continues, Melbourne newspaper struggles for Carey angle" in the news ticker.
- An episode of The Chaser's War on Everything, revealed that the news of Chas Licciardello's arrest for selling fake weapons outside a Canterbury Bulldogs game had been the top story on one radio station, followed by Israel declaring war on Lebanon.
- In Yes We Canberra, Chas and Andrew made fun of National Nine News ignoring Tony Abbott's announcement of his plan for mental health, in favour of covering Tony Abbott burning his budgie smugglers on a radio show.
- The Hamster Wheel had a segment on bizarre approaches to weather reporting, beginning with a news bulletin whose top story was Sydney being lashed by wild winds with a possible cold snap on the way, while the second was another Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan.
- Played with occasionally on The Colbert Report since the show won a Peabody award. Colbert will mention the Peabody at the top of the show, and lead into more "award-winning journalism" — only for the top story to be the most irrelevant garbage he could find. (They can't retract the award, so why not?)
- The fact that both The Colbert Report and The Daily Show have won Peabodies for outstanding excellence in journalism means they have to try that much harder to remind people that they are both comedy shows. As far as Jon Stewart and the real Stephen Colbert are concerned, they'd rather the awards go to actual news organizations. For added irony value, the Stephen Colbert character is, in large part, a parody of Bill O'Reilly who, on multiple occasions, has been caught claiming to have won not one, but two, Peabodies in spite of the fact that he never actually did. (The Peabodies are given out to shows across the entire medium of television, and there are no limits to the awards that can be given.)
- Parodied on Corner Gas, where the local Dog River Howler is deliberately, ridiculously sensationalist; for example, when the town gets stop signs at an intersection, the headline is "Crosswalk Hell". Many characters make it a point to skip right by the front page to find something interesting.
- Daredevil (2015):
- In "Rabbit in a Snowstorm", New York Bulletin executive editor Mitchell Ellison stops into Ben Urich's office to discuss the next week's edition:
Mitchell Ellison: You got a minute? Talk about next week's spread?
Ben Urich: Already working on it.
Mitchell Ellison: Another organized crime thing?
Ben Urich: All of Hell's Kitchen. There's a new player on the scene. No one knows who it is, or what they want. Everybody's scrambling.
Mitchell Ellison: Your assignment's the City desk, Ben.
Ben Urich: This is the city! [gets up from his desk] No one else is on this yet! I'm the only one who sees it.
Mitchell Ellison: It's not sexy.
Ben Urich: We're a newspaper, Ellison. Not a girly mag.
Mitchell Ellison: You know that's not what I meant. And nobody calls them that anymore.
Ben Urich: It's not just the Russians. I think maybe the Union Allied scandal might tie into this.
Mitchell Ellison: Right, and you remember what that exposé did for circulation? Dick, with a side of "who gives a shit".
Ben Urich: This is a real story!
Mitchell Ellison: Yeah, and it's gonna end the same as it always does, right? A bunch of fat old guys and some white collar person with more fat old guys.
Ben Urich: The cops aren't even on this yet! We could be the ones to connect the dots-
Mitchell Ellison: It doesn't sell papers, Ben! Not anymore! [hands Ben a manila folder] I want you on the subway line piece. [Ben takes the folder and skims the contents with increasing disdain]
Ben Urich: "Rumors Bubbling: Will Hell's Kitchen Finally Get a Subway Line?" Come on! We tell that every year!
Mitchell Ellison: And every year it kills.
Ben Urich: For a fluff piece.
Mitchell Ellison: You know, you like to be on the ground, right? You like to talk to people. Take a poll! What color do they like? Y'know, we've got a blue line, we've got a yellow line, we're running out of colors.
Ben Urich: Like M&Ms?
Mitchell Ellison: Yeah, see? Write the hell out of it.
Ben Urich: [steps up to Ellison] There used to be a time when the people in this building wrote the hell out of the news.
Mitchell Ellison: Everybody we know is making twice what we are, writing from blogs, working from home in their underwear. We're hanging on by our fingertips, Ben. Do you really want to be greasing that ledge?
- At the end of the episode, when Karen Page visits Ben at his office, the copy on his desk shows the subway story got buried in the back pages, right on the same page as a "rescued cat" story.
- At one point, Urich accuses Ellison of being paid off by Wilson Fisk and ensuring that his remaining career is limited to fluff pieces. After Fisk kills Urich, Karen angrily confides in Matt that Ellison shouldn't have even been at Urich's funeral pretending to be his friend. The arrests, however, prove that Ellison is not complicit.
- In "Rabbit in a Snowstorm", New York Bulletin executive editor Mitchell Ellison stops into Ben Urich's office to discuss the next week's edition:
- Doctor Who: In "The War Machines", the death of a tramp makes the front page of The Times. Actual deaths in 1966 included writers Evelyn Waugh and C.S. Forester, actors Buster Keaton and Montgomery Clift, comedian Lenny Bruce, and Captain Cook's 200-year-old tortoise. Their deaths did not make the front page of The Times.
- In The Flash, there's a newspaper from the future that the heroes use to judge timeline changes, whose headline reads "Flash Missing: Vanishes In Crisis." Fair enough, but one headline from further in the future reads "25 Years Later - Flash Still Missing" in equally humongazoid print. Apparently, that someone who's been missing for decades still hasn't miraculously turned up is the biggest news in Central City. Yeah, the Flash is the city's hero and the 25th anniversary of his vanishing might get some mention, but it's rather like the biggest story in a Real Life newspaper being that yes, the Titanic still, in fact, sank.
- The Goodies. In "War Babies" banner headlines declare that a woman has given birth to a full-sized Bill Oddie, whilst in a tiny corner of the newspaper is the news that World War II has just started.
- Several episodes of Have I Got News for You have coincided with a week of very slow news, with the result being that normally insignificant stories get higher prominence; one example was series 36 episode 6, where the stories in the second round consisted of a haunted sofa, a drawing of a spider somebody had sent as payment for a gas bill, a woman who'd been training for a mission to the South Pole by sitting in a refrigerator and a man who'd converted a double-decker bus into an "all mod cons base for holidays". The two regular panellists, Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, spent the entire round in sheer disbelief of the worthlessness of the "stories".
- Lampshaded on Home and Away when Robbie couldn't believe that the front page story in The Coastal News was a planned resort for the bay being announced, only a day after the apparent death of serial killer Eve Jacobsen/Zoe MacCallister, AKA the Summer Bay Stalker.
- Used as the big clue in a Jonathan Creek episode. Tourists have taken footage of the still living murder victim in the park while someone reads that morning's newspaper. The editor of the local newspaper was in on the plot and produced a copy of the newspaper front page ahead of time to film the victim before she was murdered. They then staged the story in the pre-printed headline. This explained why a big story was bumped to the third page.
- Parodied in Monty Python's Flying Circus:
- In one sketch, a character reads a newspaper which has an advert for a breakfast cereal as the banner headline and main story, with "World War III declared" squashed in the bottom of the page.
- In another episode:
"Well, everyone is talking about the Third World War which broke out this morning. But here on Nationwide we're going to get away from that a bit and look instead at the latest theory that sitting down regularly in a comfortable chair can rest your legs."
- Murphy Brown:
- A recurring bit would be Murphy and her gang grousing on how the networks ignored hard-hitting stories for "fluff" pieces.
- In her early days, Corky was clearly meant to just be good-looking and create such pieces to bring in bigger ratings. She did turn into a serious reporter as the series went on.
- One episode has Murphy fighting to get an exclusive interview with an quirky pop singer at his theme park-like mansion. Just as it's about to go on the air, word comes of a U.S. aircraft carrier attacked. While grousing over losing the interview, Murphy knows this is a far more important story and gets ready to cover it. To her shock, the network agents insist the interview go on and Niles and Murphy can't believe they're choosing the interview with the network agents saying "there is a major news story and this is it." Murphy starts it off by telling the viewers what's happening and "for further details, I suggest you switch to another station. But if you're more interested in the over-indulged lifestyle of a pampered pop music star, you're in the right place."
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Girl In Gold Boots", one of the characters in the movie robs a gas station. Later, he is seen laughing as he reads about it in the newspaper. Mike Nelson comments, "Yeah, front page of the L.A. Times—forty-dollar robbery, nobody hurt!" This is actually something of a Running Gag on MST3K, as the mock-up newspapers used in old movies tend to have extremely bland filler stories on the front page alongside the plot-related headline (and of course the guys lampshade it). Further details can be found on the Wikia page "New Petitions Against Tax".
- Played for Laughs in an episode of the [adult swim] series Newsreaders. A segment is given to a story about the creator of "Motorboating Dads", a new parenting method designed to teach young boys how to grow up to be womanizing douchebags. At the end of the segment, the man states that if what he is doing is so evil, then he challenges a time traveler to kill him as if he were Hitler. After a few moments of confidence in the fact that he must be right, since no time traveling assassins came back to kill him, the segment ends right as one appears. Lampshaded immediately.
Thanks, but I think you missed the bigger story there.
- In The Orville episode "Lasting Impressions", the crew finds a time capsule from 2015. Ed and Kelly are shown reading a newspaper, and Ed complains that society was "on the verge of climate collapse and they dedicate an entire page to teeth whitening."
- One episode of Parks and Recreation features a copy of the local paper with a headline announcing the arrival of spring. "Most residents welcome the new season."
- In the second series of Prison Break, it seems unlikely that the Fox River Eight would receive so much media attention considering the President of the United States died in suspicious circumstances on the night of their escape. One prisoner was convicted of killing the new President's brother, which would hype the prison break story. Still, given a headline of "President Dies" or "Eight Escape Prison" it isn't hard to figure which should have gotten the headline. Also, a few of the later news stories were placed as traps by the FBI.
- In an episode of The Real Mccoys, the news of grandpa being arrested for burning his trash was all over the headlines. An old man going to jail for burning his trash, the most important thing going on that day.
- Saturday Night Live:
- An episode hosted by Conan O'Brien contained a skit about the career of a boxer from the early 20th century. It ended with a headline about his retirement but under that was a small blurb about the beginning of World War I.
- A 1980 SNL sketch spoofed the concept by having a panel of journalists discussing the big issues of the day. The catch was that four of the five reporters were from supermarket tabloids. Buck Henry's character, a serious journalist from a legitimate publication, was increasingly dumbfounded by the others' dismissal of important issues such as the upcoming election and the state of the nation's economy in favor of alien encounters and Elvis sightings.
- Back in the '70s, there were months of daily reports in the "legitimate" media that Generalísimo Francisco Franco is still alive (at least until his death). At that point, Saturday Night Live weekly anchor Chevy Chase announced every week that Generalísimo Francisco Franco was still dead. This was invoked by The Colbert Report and other satirical news outlets with the death of Osama bin Laden.
- In another Weekend Update sketch, one host began to read about the story of the death of Pope John Paul, only to toss away the news brief he was reading on because he thought the story was from briefs from last month.note
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017): The Daily Punctillio will waste front pages on what is "in" at that very moment. And that's when it's not just printing outright lies without bothering to do an ounce of fact-checking.
- There's an episode where the entire front page of the Daily Planet was devoted to a bank robbery. The commentary track joked about how you don't get a font that big unless the world is ending.
- Another episode had the Daily Planet featuring Lois Lane's historical report on a former hero society up on the front page. Apparently nothing happened anywhere in the world that day.
- Discussed on Star Trek: Voyager when Neelix launches "A Briefing with Neelix" (later changed to "Good Morning, Voyager) which he originally intends to be an entertaining fluff show. Harry Kim, who was an Intrepid Reporter at Starfleet Academy, explains to Neelix how journalists are supposed to do their jobs; this helps set a series of events into motion that leads to Neelix helping to expose a traitor on Voyager.
- Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip takes place in a world where the revelation of a decade-old drunk driving arrest of a network executive (not star... executive) is able to hit the top of the news-cycle... Can most people even name a single network executive?
- The short-lived sci-fi series Threshold touched on this when a sardonic scientist notes "the day the Mars probe landed, one of the greatest achievements in human history, you know what the lead story of every newscast that night was? Britney Spears married in Vegas."
- Likewise, on The West Wing, the panic over the photographs of Sam with his High-Class Call Girl friend Laurie already seems slightly out of proportion. Now, sure, we can just about accept that Sam is a well-known face in the universe of The West Wing. However, in real life, most people probably don't know that there is such a job position as a White House Deputy Communications Director, or who fills it...and then C.J. announces that the paper they were sold to is The Daily Mirror, a British tabloid. For the record, in order for the British tabloids to care about an American speechwriter's platonic hug with a prostitute, they would have to have run through not only every scandal they could unearth about their own government and celebrities, but every scandal they could make up about their own government and celebrities.
- Invoked by CJ in "The State Dinner".
CJ: A hurricanes picked up speed and power and is heading for Georgia. Management and labor are coming here to work out a settlement to avoid a crippling strike that will begin at midnight tonight. And the governments planning a siege on 18 to 40 of its citizens, all the while we host a state dinner for the President of Indonesia...Amazingly, you know what I'll get asked most often today? (to reporter) Black suede and velvet. Manolo Blahnik slides with a rhinestone and mother of pearl toe buckle.
- Invoked by CJ in "The State Dinner".
- The Wire uses the trope seriously a few times in season five, once The Baltimore Sun is introduced into the mix:
- Alma Gutierrez's piece about a triple homicide gets drastically cut down and moved to the Metro section, below the fold. If you look very closely you can see some of the stories that made the front page, and they include a fluff piece about a skydiving company. Michael Fletcher explicitly tells Alma that it's quite simple: the victims were black in the wrong zipcode.
- This initially stymies Jimmy McNulty's efforts to publicize his made-up serial killer, as part of a scheme to bring in extra funding for the police department. He does an interview for Alma, but the Sun buries the article deep inside the paper below a story about a school name change, because the "victims" (who actually died of natural causes and were staged post-mortem) are homeless. McNulty and Lester Freamon have to add a sexual element to the killings and try again to get the results he wants.
- The death of Omar is an epic moment in the show's history. All it gets in the paper is a brief mention of just another street shooting with none of the paper's reporters having the street experience to realize a major player in the Baltimore crime world has just been cut down and will shake things up majorly.
- The Onion would have many examples of this if it weren't a parody newspaper and not obligated to do real reporting. However, "No Jennifer Lopez News Today" is a parody of this trope: a story about reporters desperate to find reasons to reprint the famous photo of Lopez in her Grammy Awards dress (which is printed twice alongside the article).
- An even older article had the story: "CNN Still Releasing News Piled Up During Elián González Saga". They included stuff like "China's Communist Government Falls", "Bubonic Plague Outbreak in Africa", "Los Angeles swallowed by the Sea" and "Mexico invades Texas". A photograph in the article shows a stack of videotapes with labels like "Library of Congress Demolition" and "Albrightnote Rape Footage".
- Our Dumb Century had an article about the 1992 Somali genocide being ignored by Americans in favor of "Dream Team Excitement" (the U.S. Olympic basketball team).
- In 2008, People magazine ran a cover story about Ellen DeGeneres getting married to Portia De Rossi. The story about American Michael Phelps being the first person EVER to win 8 gold medals in swimming got a tiny little mention in the corner. An Op Ed later chewed them out for it.
- The same thing happened in 2011 when they ran a cover story about relation troubles between the current couple on The Bachelor, and demoted a story about the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan to a small thumbnail image on the top left corner.
- People does this most of the time, being dedicated to celebrity gossip and human interest stories rather than important news.
- Private Eye parodies this sort of thing regularly in the 'Colour Section', with common versions being popular celebrity news being rewritten as a story "Exclusive to All Newspapers" and described in straightforward, "Man Rides Bike" style — often with a mention of a far more important story being on Page 94. It's "Street of Shame" (Newspaper News) section may instead attack such things directly, and it also has the occasional feature "Going Live" to note the more absurd examples of a journalist standing on the street outside a house where something interesting happened several hours ago.
- The death of a single drug addict makes the front page of the Los Angeles Times in Eazy-E's "Boyz N Tha Hood." "Little did he know I had a loaded 12 gauge/ One sucka dead, L.A. Times front page."
- Joe Jackson takes several shots at the British tabloids and their front-page stories in his song "Sunday Papers":
If you want to know about the gay politicianIf you want to know how to drive your carIf you want to know about the new sex positionYou can read it in the Sunday papers, read it in the Sunday papers
- During the introduction to "MLF Lullaby", Tom Lehrer quipped that "Much of this discussion took place during the baseball season, so the Chronicle may not have covered it".
- In the Hatsune Miku song "News 39", the mission statement of the Channel 39 news is to make their headlines about the most uplifting and positive news in the world no matter how small it is (an entire segment is dedicated to a local couple's engagement, for example). The anchorwoman justifies it by saying people need to know there's still good out there in spite of the bitter news that can be watched anywhere else.
- "New Dress" by Depeche Mode notes that, for all the tragedy and important news stories in the world, in the eyes of the media that wasn't as important as the fact that "Princess Di is wearing a new dress!"
- In "In the Middle of the Night" by Madness, a newsagent and compulsive Panty Thief goes on the run after seeing a photofit of himself on the front page of the Sun, a national British tabloid (referred to in the song by its Rhyming Slang nickname, the Currant Bun). Even given the reputation of the Sun, it must have been a slow news day for a photofit of a local pervert to be front-page news.
- An old George Carlin bit has him doing a promo for the nightly news: "The sun did not come up this morning, huge cracks have appeared in the earth's surface, and big rocks are falling out of the sky. Details 25 minutes from now on Action Central News."
- Chris Rock joked in 2004 that George Bush was trying to distract us from the war in Iraq by making news stories that the media would cover instead. He was the one who sent the girl to Kobe Bryant's hotel room, he killed Laci Peterson, he sent the little boy to Michael Jackson's house, and he made Paris Hilton's sex tape.
- Eddie Izzard inverts this in Definite Article, when he notes that even papers don't steep too low:
Thimbles dont get enough press these days, do they? I dont think they ever did, because very rarely you see, "'Thimbles? Ooh!' Says Man."
- Wanda Sykes once called out the news for teasing recall notices during the evening news:
Reporter: It will kill you, and it might be on your dinner plate right now. We'll tell you what it is after the break.
Wanda: *horrified expression as she looks at a mimed spoon that is moments from entering her mouth* Is it peas?!
- The title screen of Paperboy is a newspaper declaring on the front page that "Amazing Paperboy Delivers!" If he runs out of lives or loses all his customers, his subsequent firing makes the front page as well. And if he makes it through the week alive and retires (after just one week?!)... same thing. Not to mention the world of Paperboy is a World of Weirdness where the paper route contains sentient lawn ornaments, miniature tornadoes, and the actual Grim Reaper, all things you'd think would make the news first. Newspaper delivery truly is Serious Business. Some Fridge Logic here: if no one is reading the paper, is it news? The paperboy example is, of course, spoofed in the movie Press Start.
- A running gag is that no one reads Aya's Bunbunmaru newspaper in Touhou, which probably has to do with the second running gag that Aya can't keep a straight story, will often ignore facts or focus on the wrong details, or write outright useless stories that will be weeks old when the paper is finally distributed.
- A former police officer being convicted of poisoning a customer is definitely newsworthy. However, the news article Gumshoe brings Phoenix in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations says absolutely nothing about the case (not even the defendant's or victim's name) and focuses on what a shoddy defense Phoenix gave her. True, his defense was inexplicably poor and the idea that he might have essentially thrown the case might be newsworthy, but at the expense of all other information? Of course it wasn't Phoenix at all, but Furio Tigre dressed as Phoenix.
- In later Pokémon games the TV-news-crew apparently have nothing better to do but follow you around and tell their audience about stuff like you catching a Level 3 Bidoof, or inform the world that your plants need watering. Never mind that there's an evil organization about possibly stealing Pokémon and trying to destroy the world...
- Similarly, most of the Pokemon News Flash segments in Pokémon Channel (particularly the ones with Meowth) mostly have news that's not only trivial, but also virtually pointless.
- Max Payne: Max sees a bunch of newspapers and newscasts with a story about the murder of his colleague. On the very same night he was murdered that is.
- The newspapers ending each level in Hitman: Blood Money will always give the 72 point treatment to whichever assassination 47 has just pulled off. Meanwhile, stories like the death of the United States vice president are relegated to minor blurbs.
- In Super Mario Sunshine, the Delfino Emergency Broadcast System will frequently scroll plot-important updates across the bottom of the screen. Generally, these involve things that would genuinely qualify as important news in this world, such as the kidnapping of Princess Peach or the game's villain being spotted about town. However, at one point, the D.E.B.S. sees fit to broadcast the sighting of a Yoshi egg on a local rooftop. Funnier yet, it ends the announcement in question with "reports are unconfirmed", as if it's a difficult feat to go look on top of the roof in question.
- In Fallout 3, Three Dog of Galaxy News Radio seems to focus specifically on the Lone Wanderer, either praising or insulting them based on the player's actions. Lampshaded when he covers the Lone Wanderer starting a Collection Sidequest for Nuka Cola Quantum, stating that it's a slow news day. Since the only events of the world before the Lone Wanderer and later the Enclave arrives are "Brotherhood paladins kill Super Mutants", "Raiders ransack caravans, burn villages and use victim's bodies as home decoration" or "Ghouls spotted and/or eliminated somewhere", seeing some change is noteworthy for everybody.
- Generally averted in Fallout: New Vegas, where Mr. New Vegas, the Radio host of Radio Vegas's news reports are generally news worthy. And the Courier is rarely ever mentioned by name, except for the one news story relating to him being shot in the head and recovering (which is what kicks off the game). Played straight in a few stories, such as the one relating to the Camp Golf rookies and their training scores.
- In Fallout 4, Travis of Diamond City Radio generally tries to report the news as is while remaining impartial (though he's generally supportive of the Minutemen overall) as well as usually dancing around the player's involvement in the events, but he's also hindered by the fact that he's a nervous wreck of a man. By completing his sidequest however, he becomes a better DJ and reporter and will report the news with more detail and confidence while still remaining mostly impartial.
- At the end of Rock Band 3, a series of Spinning Newspapers tells of the ensuing riot after your band's definitive performance, your rise to global super-stardom, the media attention that swamps you and how your band eventually goes missing in a plane crash over the seas of Venezuela. The final article telling of the search being called off with no hope of survivors has on the side a piece headlined "Starlet drinks coffee!"note . For the curious, your band didn't actually die; it was a scheme to escape the media attention, giving you an opportunity for a tropical vacation.
- Quite a few clues in Nancy Drew games can be gleaned from newspaper articles or magazines. Sometimes the relevant not-especially-newsworthy article will share the front page with several others... each of which is a Continuity Nod to a previous game from the series, and just as trivial.
- In StarCraft II, UNN reporter Kate Lockwell is interviewing the Crown Prince while the Dominion is facing both an invasion by the Zerg and a rebellion... and anchor Donny Vermillion decides to ask him about his love life. Here, the bad news judgement is in the questions — any sane reporter would ask him about Raynor's rebellion, or the war with the Zerg. Fortunately, Valerian gives a quick and simple answer to Vermillion's question (he actually has a crush on Lockwell) before moving on to more important matters.
- The level "Manifest Destiny" in L.A. Noire. In one day, a source leaks that the LAPD has been taking kickbacks from a famous madam to keep prostitutes in the town off the streets, the conspiracy which stretches to the top of the department. Meanwhile, a group of Marines have stolen a massive shipment of heroin, cigarettes, and guns. Their deal with the Mafia goes south, leading Mickey Cohen to order them all killed on the same day. This includes, among other things, massacring two of them on the red carpet at Graumann's Chinese Theater and firing upon a crowded public bus with a machine gun. Vice Detectives Phelps and Earle get involved in a running gun battle which ultimately leaves two dozen plus dead bodies strewn across Los Angeles. So what story catches headlines? Phelps cheating on his wife with a German lounge singer. It's justified in that Phelps has become a local hero during his rather meteoric rise in position, and beyond that it was all set up by a conspiracy that probably has it's hands in the newspapers' pockets. Phelps did actually cheat on his wife though.
- Invoked in the flash game The Republia Times. You play as the newspaper editor of a People's Republic of Tyranny and ordered to puff up pieces that keep people entertained (to bring in more readers) or inspire loyalty while downplaying negative news. Thus until you're contacted by La Résistance you're encouraged to produce papers with huge articles about a celebrity wedding while stories like a terrorist bomb causing 600 casualties being relegated to the side column.
- In Chulip, the local paper will post about any and all events that go on in Long Life Town, including who Our Protagonist has kissed.
- In Tomodachi Life, this is the point of Mii News. Other than announcing when something's unlocked, their main point in the game... Is to announce silly news articles, such as a Mii reentering Kindergarten, or a Mii finding a lost sock. Sometimes interviewed Miis will lampshade this with these possible responses:
In other words, we're having a really slow news day, right?
Isn't there anything more interesting going on?
Do you guys ever cover anything serious?
- In the "Pandoran Gazette" (which comes with the Collector's Edition) in Borderlands 2, this is lampshaded.
Local Newspaper Writer Desperate To Fill Space On Page
Two hundred words. That's a lot of words. I mean, relatively, I guess it isn't — War and Peace was a lot of words. At least three hundred, definitely. But in a world where a headline like "Man eaten alive by giant ape monster" doesn't warrant much more than a shrug, it's hard to find two hundred words worth of news that will actually excite people.
- Drakensang 2: River of Time plays with this: there is a newspaper boy in Nadoret, the main city in the game, selling both the local paper and the all-Aventurian paper. The local paper contains one article each, mentioning recent events in the game, while the 'big' paper gives a historical overview, but is more window-dressing, containing little that is relevant to the game.
- Woman kisses toad — yuck!
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: On this (VERY spoileriffic) page, a time traveller looks at the newspaper to find out what year it is. The front page headline reads "IT IS OCT 4TH, 1979! THAT'S IT. NOTHING IS GOING ON. SLOW DAY."
NOBODY EVEN DIED
Why don't you draw in your own picture of what happened to you yesterday?
And then we'll give you plenty of space to write about something.
- Schlock Mercenary plays this trope straight when a story about a brontosaurus at a zoo projectile vomiting on the crowd gets more attention than the Lunar Space Elevator getting cut and almost killing everyone within a kilometer of the moon's equator.
- Bob the Angry Flower: Robert invents a portal to heaven, and uses it in national public scientific research. Everyone who could possibly object is too busy listening to things like a gay star.
- This trope was the entire point of Andrew Hussie's old What A Scoop! miniseries.
- According to this Scandinavia and the World strip, Denmark's take on global news is like this.
- Polandball pokes fun at this in the most offensive way possible in Nice Hat.
- Biter Comics: The local news station covers the hard hitting story of... the couple that's been married for a long time.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has this:
Superman: I'm going to the press, and we'll see what the headline is when they find an entire county of impoverished minorities has disappeared.Headline: Celebrity Nipples: A Retrospective
- The first game in The Trapped Trilogy ends with a newspaper with a headline about a serial killer who's the main character of the game, and the main villain of the series on the loose. Headline-worthy material, to be sure, except that just below it is a story about the second coming of Jesus.◊
- The Jib Jab video, "What We Call the News" sums up this trope in a nutshell.
- In Darwin's Soldiers 3 a fight between two characters literally tears up the entire Las Vegas strip. Also, a different character was killed in a convenience store. Somehow, the latter event made the papers, but the former did not.
- Parodied in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series episode 24:
News Caster: We interrupt this program to give you an urgent report. It seems that the Domino Museum is holding an extremely boring exhibition on ancient Egypt. Apparently this qualifies as news. In other plot-related stories, Seto Kaiba is about to receive an important phone call.
- Played for Laughs in Suburban Knights, in which a recorded news broadcast from the eighties gives most of its focus on the disappearance of a geeky LARPER named Chuck Gaffers. The story following that?
On a lighter note, the president has been shot.
- In Video Game High School, a news segment about the president being kidnapped is interrupted with news about varsity captain of VGHS getting fragged in a pubstomp.
- In a Strong Bad Email segment, Strong Bad runs his own news show and keeps teasing "The World in Crisis" as a major news story that gets pre-empted for such significant news as a line forming at Bubs' Concession Stand, Strong Mad saying "I SHOULD WIN!" regarding sports, and a weather report allegedly given by an inanimate object. He never explains "The World in Crisis" story.
- Welcome to Night Vale:
Cecil: We've tried to turn off the faucets, but the handles just spin loosely and have seemingly no effect on the smell. We tried calling the plumber but they just screamed something about there being four suns. 'Four suns!' they howled into the phone, before muttering for a while about nothing being as it seems, we've been duped by God, all is lost, blah-blah, something-something living nightmares. So, I guess were going to have to contact the Water Department directly about this issue. (beat) Oh! Also, I should have mentioned earlier, the two suns have now doubled to four suns. There are now four suns in the sky. So thats awful.
- While Cecil's sense of what makes a news story noteworthy is often a bit skewed, he usually does manage to pick out the relevant stories to report on. However, he really drops the ball in Ep. 31, "A Blinking Light up on the Mountain". He neglects to mention (first) that the mountain is new, (second) that the new mountain rose out of a new set of mud plains, and (third) that the mud plains are currently covered by an invading army.
- Returns in Ep. 60 "Water Failure" when, despite several incrediby news-worthy happenings around town, Cecil keeps getting sidetracked by station problems, such as the water being off so he can't make coffee:
- In "[Best Of?]", we get to hear a clip from Cecil's first broadcast after becoming full-time radio host, where he picked Leonard Burton's retirement as his main story over America entering WWII.
- Lampshaded in one of the missions on the WGBH FFFBI site, where one of the items in the mission dossier is a newspaper article about New Delhi getting new binumerical street signs (that does come in handy in teaching the agent Hindi numerals) that ends with the line "Bystanders agreed with India Inquirer reporters that it was indeed a slow day for news."
- In Vinesauce Tomodachi Life, the already bizarre news reports in the game get cranked up in a side episode where Vinny plays the prequel Tomodachi Collection. At several points in the episode, Vineschnoz (a clone of Vinny's Mii that sports a Gag Nose) tries to share his hot news. Thanks to the game corruptions Vinny is implementing, his reports range from odd (saying some Gratuitous Japanese) to weird (a conspiracy theory involving ents and "ÄSlw b" that he says twice) to slightly frightening (talking about the aforementioned "ÄSlw b" while being covered up by a glitched texture wall). For some reason, the last report he gives out is completely normal (by Tomodachi standards of normal).
- JonTron suggests that this is why there's a disproportionately high amount of Italian-animated films about the Titanic featuring talking mice.
Jon: But this isn't even the only Italian-animated Titanic film that features. Talking. Mice. The other being called The Legend of the Titanic, The LEGEND of the Titanic. Did Italy just miss the news that day? Was that the day the world's biggest meatball was made, and the Titanic sinking was just a footnote right at the bottom?
- In the Rifftrax short Overcoming Fear, the lead character proudly carries around a stack of newspapers where the front story is his in-class defense of a new bicycle regulation.
Newspaper: "Student Defends Bicycle Ordinance."
Kevin: "On slowest news day in history."
- In the American Dad! episode "Star Trek", Steve tries to be a "bad boy" to become popular and the newspapers depict his Poke the Poodle moments (littering, talking to strangers, etc.) as horrible offenses. Lampshaded in a secondary headline saying it was a slow news week.
- The plot of the Atomic Puppet episode "Media Darlings" centers on Atomic Puppet's frustration that the news is ignoring their superhero feats (like hurling a giant robot into the sun) to report on...a new hair salon and its owner. It turns out in the end that the hair salon's owner was a supervillain blackmailing the news to give him good publicity.
- Big City Greens: In "Breaking News", the news crew covering Bill's watermelon say there's nothing else happening. At that moment, a car speeds by chased by police, the driver yelling "I just robbed a bank!" The crew ignore it completely.
- Camp Lazlo: The attempts to jazz up the camp newsletter end up this territory:
Local hamster builds giant toothbrush out of toothpicks...THIS IS THE SCOOP OF THE CENTURY??? ARE YOU ALL MAD???
- An episode of Chilly Beach had two spinning papers covering the local election, and a third announcing that "Small town can support three newspapers!"
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Weather News Network is really bad about this in both films. The world's weather is being thrown into chaos, and Sam has just shown footage of a tornado made out of spaghetti on the channel. Yet when Sam interrupts their broadcast right before the climax, one can see that they were reporting in large letters: "SEALS GET WET". The sequel also shows the same channel reporting on Flint's blunder with the Surprise Box at Livecorp at the beginning of the film...something that is decidedly not related to weather at all.
- The Danger Mouse finale, "The Intergalactic 147," has the news reporter taking his bulletin of the strange white planet on a collision course for Earth and turning it into a contest to name the planet.
- Family Guy: Quahog 5 News is frequently guilty of this trope, overplaying pop culture or non-news "news" while giving no attention to legitimate news.
- Lampshade Hanging with "Paper boys get award on slow news day." The same episode featured, "Monster To City: GRRRRRR"
- In the episode "A Clockwork Origin", we see a copy of a USB Today newspaper citing its top story as "Trial of the Century. Carbon-based life form accused of Creationism." The less emphasized story? "Carbon-based life discovered."
- "Roswell That Ends Well" has the Planet Express crew sent back in time to 1947 Roswell. Leela grabs a newspaper:
Leela: Take a look at this!
Bender: 'High School Gym Renovations On Schedule'? What a load!
- A news headline in Gravity Falls: "Cheese crust pizza declared 'delicious'." Somewhere underneath it in the margins: "War or something..."
- Hey Arnold!: Stoop kid afraid to leave stoop. Hey Arnold liked to occasionally play this straight, including the day we saw "Stoop kid to leave stoop". The legend dies.
- Looney Tunes:
- The 1943 Bugs Bunny cartoon Tortoise Wins by a Hare shows a newspaper with a banner headline "HARE RACES TORTOISE TODAY", while a much smaller headline on the same page reads "Adolph Hitler Commits Suicide". A pity it didn't get more prominence, since it was uncannily prophetic !
- In the Wartime Cartoon "Scrap Happy Daffy", the fact that Daffy Duck has a really huge pile of scrap metal is somehow enough to warrant a front page headline in "The American Press". Hoarding was Serious Business in World War II.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Ponyville Confidential" the Cutie Mark Crusaders write stories about such gossip as the Mayor dying her mane or Princess Celestia acting like a normal pony. This is hardly the Cutie Mark Crusaders' fault, however, as any attempts at normal news are thrown out by the paper's editor (Diamond Tiara) who insists that the paper exclusively prints stories that basically turn it into a gossip rag. What makes it even worse is that when the CMC try to quit the paper, she blackmails them into continuing. Luckily she gets her comeuppance at the end, getting fired from her editor position and relegated to the unglorious and dirty job of running the presses, while the colt that was previously doing that job gets promoted to staff photographer.
- In Ratatouille the newspapers in Paris, France apparently consider events in the hospitality industry worthy of the front page, instead of the business or lifestyle sections. Sure, the French take their food a bit more seriously than the inhabitants of other countries, but not to that extent.
- In The Ren & Stimpy Show, Stimpy gives the ailing Ren a sponge bath, then Ren has a total relapse when it is the next day's front page story — complete with secondary headline "Hundreds Witness Soapy Scenario!"
- Robot Chicken:
- Played with in an episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Bullwinkle has just found a ruby-studded model boat, and the narrator mentions it made the front page of the papers. This is followed with several rapid-fire scenes of people reading the headlines of the front pages of the various papers, which are either serious news or celebrity gossip. Rocky corrects the narrator, and says it's the first page of the classifieds, which incorrectly claims that Bullwinkle is trying to sell the boat (he said he wanted to sail the yacht at an interesting party, and the paper said he would sell the boat to an interested party). This dinky and incorrect ad placed in a small-town Minnesota paper still somehow manages to end up in the classified section of a paper read by a nobleman in Pakistan.
- The Simpsons does this all the time, often pointed out by having the "top story" edge out an article along the lines of "China Invades US".
- Examples of this are: Main Headline "Cavalry Kids Lead Charge In Cleanup" with secondary headline "President Shoots Wife", and Main Headline "Lottery Drawing Today" with secondary headline "President, Rock Star To Swap Wives".
- In the episode "You Kent Always Say What You Want", Kent Brockman begins his Smartline show with:
Kent Brockman: Tonight on Smartline, our report from the Middle East will not be seen, so that we may bring you a man who bought an ice cream cone.Homer Simpson: That's me.
- In "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy", Kent Brockman closes his show with a report about the doll Lisa helped design (mostly because his daughter asked him to. After all, she was right about the Berlin Wall). As the closing music starts playing, Kent suddenly blurts out "Oh, and the President was arrested for murder but more on that tomorrow night... or you can turn to another channel. [Looks off to the side] Oh. Do not turn to another channel."
- In "Krusty Gets Kancelled", Mayor Quimby admits in a speech that he used the city's treasury to fund the murder of his enemies, but closes with the "I'm a bad wittle boy" catchphrase popularized by the villain of the week. The following newspaper shows the headline "Quimby re-elected in landslide", while a secondary story in smaller type underneath reads "Two more bodies resurface in harbor". Of course, it also shows the residents of Springfield are complete idiots. Earlier in said episode, the newspaper gives banner coverage to "Gabbo" as part of the media build-up to the revelation of Gabbo as a ventriloquist's dummy and host of an afternoon children's program competing against Krusty's program — although this is actually justified in that early coverage is on page 23 and it only makes the front pages later, presumably due to public interest drummed up by the campaign.
- Other headlines the Springfield Shopper has seen fit to feature on the front page include "Man Marries Woman in Wedding Ceremony"; and "Old Man Yells at Cloud."◊
- Justified in one episode in which the incredibly mundane headline is accompanied by a smaller one reading "Slow News Day Grips City."
- The strapline to a story about Sideshow Bob's prison pardon reads "#1 Local Issue".
- Some minor piece of local news is preceded by a picture of a thin smoke trail leading out of the Capitol building, and Kent Brockman saying, "... leaving the Vice-President in charge."
- Played with in the "Treehouse of Horror IX" story "Hell Toupée:
Kent: [grim] And those little kittens played with that ball of yarn, [despondent sigh] all through the night. [perks up] On a lighter note, a Kwik-E-Mart clerk was brutally murdered last night.
- "... which if true, means death for us all. And now, 'Kent's People!''"
- "I'm Kent Brockman, on the eleven o'clock news tonight... a certain type of soft drink has been found to be lethal. We won't tell you which one until after sports and the weather with 'Funny' Sonny Storm!"
- Another quote like the above "A certain house-hold fabric could kill you! Find out after the break!"
- Later in the same episode that the page image comes from, the squirrel is assassinated. Brockman promises "to stay with the story all night if we have to." Note this was the same episode where the major news story had previously been "Boy trapped at bottom of well" (a spoof of the Jessica McClure incident a few years prior, one of the first stories to get 24-hour coverage on cable news).
- It's lampshaded on one occasion where Kent closes a live report from the field with "There are those who would say that this is not news."
- And in "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can", Brockman deems Lisa Simpson getting into the Spellympics to be of more paramount importance than the destruction of Paris (as apparently does Marge, who switches off the television as soon as he starts to tell Springfield about the latter).
- In "Homer's Odyssey", the Springfield Shopper repeatedly headlines Homer's safety advocating, culminating with, "Enough Already Homer Simpson!◊"
- An Itchy and Scratchy episode shows Scratchy be given his own heart as a Valentine. He suffers no ill effects until he reads a newspaper with the headline "YOU NEED A HEART TO LIVE."
- Lampshaded to death on South Park. If a newsperson shows up in an episode, they're guaranteed to end every scene they're in with something like "In other news, we enter our sixth straight day of absolutely nothing else to report about." In one episode, Stan's dad forces them to watch a Presidential nominee debate between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. Just then there is "Breaking News" to show that Britney Spears has pissed on a ladybug while on a camping trip. We then "return to the stupid Presidential debate." Explored and given an In-Universe justification in "Britney's New Look", where the public wants celebrities to be Driven to Suicide for reasons similar to The Lottery.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob was assigned by Mr. Krabs to be the reporter of his new newspaper. While looking for a story, SpongeBob ignores a bank robbery, two guys wrecking a car, and a monster, and instead he writes about Patrick staring at a pole.
- In the Uncle Grandpa episode "Escalator", a news station apparently spends the entire episode reporting on what they call "the worst situation in the history of the Universe": Uncle Grandpa and Pizza Steve getting trapped on a broken escalator. Not an elevator. An escalator. On the reel, you can see a number of news items consisting mostly of gibberish phrases like "Acorn Futures Skyrocket", of which only the one that says "Christopher Columbus escapes Time Jail" makes sense in context.
- A 1934 Van Beuren Studios cartoon titled "A Little Bird Told Me" depicts birds operating a newspaper. They get a scoop and decide to print an extra edition. The news consists of a (live-action) human boy eating jam out of a jar with his hands.