Googling 'Florida man' is the latest internet fad. Let's explore why so many crazy stories come out of the state

CNN | 3/22/2019 | Staff
Coraav (Posted by) Level 3
(CNN)Florida has earned a reputation for being home to some colorful characters -- most notably the "Florida man."

He isn't actually a single person but rather a trope of all the Florida men who've made headlines for doing something ... unusual.

Internet - Fad - Florida - Man - Challenge

And he's now starring in the latest internet fad: the "Florida man" challenge, in which you Google "Florida man" and your birthday to see what crazy news story from the state pops up.

From botched robberies to deadly cockroach-eating contests, it seems like there's a wild story about a Florida man for every day of the year.

Sunshine - State - Stories

But what is it about the Sunshine State that generates so many nutty stories?

There are several theories:

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But beneath it all, there's sometimes a deeper element at play in many of these "Florida man" stories -- one, that's no laughing matter.

Thanks to Florida's strong public records laws -- also known as Sunshine Laws -- it's easy for journalists to get their hands on police incident reports and churn out attention-grabbing stories.

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"Florida has got one of the broadest public records laws in the country," says Barbara Petersen, president of Florida's First Amendment Foundation.

You can access basic crime information almost in real time, Petersen added.

Report - Law - Enforcement - Public - Record

"As soon as that incident report is filed (by law enforcement), we can go and make a public record request and get it."

The wacky headlines also might have to do with a huge, diverse population interacting under sometimes suffocating humidity.

People - Florida - Number - People - Square

"People don't recognize how huge Florida is. The number of people per square mile is highly compacted," says Al Tompkins, a senior faculty member at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, in St. Petersburg, Florida. "When you put more people in a place,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNN
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