Posted by Rachel Landes
This Thanksgiving, my family had the luxury of traveling to California. My mom, my sister and I headed West first, and my father joined us the day before Thanksgiving. Being the responsible journalist my father is he was fully aware of the “National Opt-Out Day” boycott that was supposed to take place on the busiest travel day of the year.
National Opt-Out Day was an online movement meant to encourage travelers to boycott TSA screening policies—the day before Thanksgiving. My father arrived at the airport hours ahead of schedule to ensure that any possible hold-ups in security wouldn’t cause a missed flight. What he found was not exactly the boycott or long lines he imagined.
Yes, the airport was busy, but nothing too out of the ordinary for a holiday week. He asked one of the TSA officers about the National Opt-Out Day and if there had been any major delays. The TSA officer responded saying, “The only people who thought this was going to be a big issue were the media. We didn’t anticipate any problems that would slow down security at all.”
So was the boycott a success or flop? And are the media to blame for all the hype? If you visit the National Opt-Out Day website, it reads:
“Ultimately, the hype built by the media for National Opt-Out Day turned the event into something that it could never be. They wanted the chaos at the airports, they wanted long lines and beyond-frustrated travelers because it would make a good story. The old saying, ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ was certainly true in this case.”
What other incidents has the media over-hyped? How should journalists respond to potential boycotts such as this?