Celebrity Deaths: December 2016 Marks End Of Worst Year, Or Just Media Hype?

Celebrity deaths in 2016 rocked the world, and notable celebrity greats such as Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, were lost in the final days of December. Although there may have been a seemingly large amount of celebrities, musicians, and the like who have passed on this year, the quantity may depend on the source reporting it.

By what standard would this be representative?

A Reddit user may have you think that 2016 does outnumber the previous 2014 and 2015 celebrity deaths, but there are quite a few standards by which are contrary to Reddit. For one, you would have to consider the source.

Celebrity deaths for 2016, as recorded by TV Guide, delivered data showing that this year shows a lesser number of deaths than proceeding years dating all the way to 2010, according to Science Blogs. It looks like 2013 was quite high in its celebrity losses. If you compare MSN and CNN celebrity death reports to that of TV Guide, you’ll get a different set of results. MSN reported a significantly higher number for 2016 with CNN slightly higher. Both are significantly higher than TV Guide’s reports.

So which data is representative? TV Guide mentions that perhaps CNN covers a broader scope, as it’s an international news agency, which makes sense.

All Media Hype?

Why are these celebrity death numbers contradicting, depending on the outlet?

One may also have to consider a media-focused frenzy on a topic most concerning. Some of these deaths were of actors that were quite iconic and probably hit the nostalgia bone of many who grew up with these remarkable talents. The results probably made more of an impact on the feelings of others, which is understandable.

Now to turn this a different direction and onto an entirely different subject: Sharks. Back in 2001, Time Magazine declared that time period the “banner year” of the “Summer of the Shark” when in actuality the number of shark attacks were “slightly down” in that year, according to the University of Florida.

George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File, who also handles media inquiries, talked about how it was more of a media frenzy if anything.

“Last year was anything but an average year, but that’s because it was more like the summer of the media feeding frenzy.”

Burgess talked about how he had received media inquiries from the most unlikely outlets like Montana, and Idaho. These are areas of the United States that hadn’t seen a shark since pre-historic times.

Were they just looking for a story to keep up with the hype? By what means or methods would the media use to give numbers that may not match up with other sources?

Take the BBC for instance. If you look through their pre-prepared obituaries from 2012 through 2016, you’ll find the highest between all of them is indeed 2016.

Then there’s the weight of well-known outlets, that when the tally came home for certain news sources, 2016 came in second, third, and even fourth to that of The Hollywood Reporter, Legacy.com, and The Telegraph’s reports which showed their totals to be the highest exclusively to those three sources, according to Snopes.

So does it appear that some celebrities are getting overlooked? Is a definition of a “notable” celebrity on the onus of the media outlet?

Does The Hype Come From Social Media?

It was also considered that the responsiveness of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter likely made an impact on the gravity of celebrity deaths. It was also considered by The Guardian that there is indeed an emotional element to it.

“Sudden emotional impulses are amplified with astonishing speed across the Internet just as they can be in a crowd. Each apparently solitary smartphone user is really sharing other people’s emotion as well as their own.”

It would seem that the 2016 celebrity deaths have been quite an influence, and it would also appear that social media could be impacting the ebb and flow of emotion in the vast sea of the internet.

[Featured Image by Shaun Heasley/Getty Images]