Language Log revisits “two seductive effects of selective attention.” They are
the Recency Illusion (if you’ve noticed something only recently, you believe that it in fact originated recently) and the Frequency Illusion (once you notice a phenomenon, you believe that it happens a whole lot). [But]…your impressions are unreliable; you need to find out what the facts are.
That’s excellent advice for journalists. These illusions show up in all types of news articles, but they are most easily identified as the sources of the so-called trend story. So entrenched is the trend story in the modern practice of journalism that cable news organizations employ trend-watchers who specifically practice these illusions.
Take these illusions and add a blonde, blue-eyed girl between the ages of 10 and 17 and you get sustained “Summer of” reporting, e.g. the summer of shark attacks or the summer of abductions.