Osama is Dead T-Shirt: Media Hype?

After U.S. forces carried out the mission ultimately leading to the death of Osama bin Laden, I – like many people – scoured the Internet for news and commentary about the historic military operation. The more information I came across, the more I wanted to read.

As I read about the mission, I came upon a news item that was, at best, tangential to the story. Apparently, it had been reported, some enterprising young man set up a website selling t-shirts proclaiming bin Laden’s death and raked in over $100,000.

I reflected on this story a bit and shook my head. Here it was, in the midst of news of this historic mission, the quick buck angle.

Outlets in the mainstream and not so mainstream media love to feed people stories about striking it rich, the easy way. While on the one hand these news outlets seem to relish tearing apart individuals involved in marketing get-rich-quick schemes, they seem, themselves, to be all too eager to sell people stories of how someone made a fast dollar, even if the story is somewhat massaged or exaggerated.

Hats off to the entrepreneur. Quick thinking and acting, if reports can be believed, led to the creation of the website that served to sell over 10,000 t-shirts. However, once you start to analyze the situation, you realize that the entrepreneur in question must have all kinds of expenses that he’ll have to pay from the over $100,000 he is said to have made.

I have no idea what the profit margin is on selling t-shirts, but if it’s 15%, for example, we are talking about making in the neighborhood of $15,000 and not $100,000. No doubt, that is a lot of money for a few days work, but it is not the kind of strike-it-rich number that draws attention to headlines.

Media stories highlighting that someone made big money quickly appeal to our desire to win the lottery, literally or figuratively. The hope is that one day we wake up and bam, our life is changed forever through some stroke of good fortune.

However, when we start analyzing things – even making a killing off Osama bin Laden’s killing – we realize that as with the majority of things in life, there is plenty of work that needs to be done if we want to accomplish something of significance. Consequently, chances are, we’ll build our fortune over time, not by “striking it rich.”

*Note: Now there is a media report claiming the young man in question is giving back the $100,000 he “made.” Our issue is not with the t-shirt, it’s with media sensationalism. Again, charging $12.00 for an item does not mean that’s what you made.

A headline stating someone is giving back 100 grand, they made, is a lot more eye catching then saying someone is, in reality, giving up a small portion of that. Media hype? You decide.

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