Are Celebrities News?

The conclusion to 2009 has me wondering; when it comes to trashy journalism, is it the presentation or the subject matter? Do we really care about Tiger Woods, Lindsey Lohan, Michael Jackson, or Paris Hilton? Do we really pass on good informative journalism in favor of gossip and screamed opinion? I have been hearing about the short attention span of our nation for years, but it would appear from blog traffic (not this one’s mind you) that we are willing to spend time reading the news. Why then, do we not spend more time on the content (and therefore advertising) provided by solid news sources like the PBS News Hour?

Ratings don’t lie when it comes to television (radio is more suspect). CNN picked up steam when Nancy Grace, a walking, screaming, rights-violating banshee of a host moved into a prime slot. There can be no question of the ratings dominance enjoyed by the brash and confrontational opinion merchants on Fox News. Nor can there be any question of the people chosen by Fox News rivals MSNBC to track down the cable news leaders. The obnoxious and loud Chris Matthews, followed by the pugnacious and loud Ed Schultz, and capped by the abrasive and confrontational Keith Olbermann represent the most competitive lineup fielded against Fox in recent time.

So our choices in journalism come down to; philandering golfers, abusive husbands who would be in jail if not for their fame, know-it-all ex-DA’s poking their snouts in local cases, screaming liberal opinion merchants, or lying conservative gasbags. Most depressing! I would suggest PBS; Frontline, The News Hour, Washington Weekly, Nova, and the Charlie Rose Show comprise a fabulous lineup that delivers more news per minute than all of the other sources combined. The shows are not “fair and balanced”, they are well-produced pieces composed of thoroughly researched and responsibly presented reporting. News does not, after all, have two sides; networks and shows that claim otherwise are just trying to sell you dish soap.

After all of this, I am curious. My question is, do you have a genuine interest in sensational journalism and if so, what is the appropriate amount of time a network should devote to this type of story? Is wall to wall coverage of the “balloon boy” in flight necessary? Should networks spend 30 days covering Michael Jackson for 16 hours per day, or two months prosecuting on air the mother of a murdered little girl? The rational middle wants to hear opinions other than the ones bouncing around the author’s head. Below the post you will find two tools; a section for comments and three boxes one might check to describe the post. Please comment extensively if you would like, but if you are short of time, perhaps you would participate in an informal poll. If you think that the media, in general, covers the stories that interest you in the quantities and manner that you desire, check “funny”. If you think that the media has it all wrong, check “cool”. If you believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle, check “interesting”.

Anonymity is respected, and comments are appreciated…just keep it classy!

The rational middle waits…….