Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Media Age Of Celebrity Faux News

It s all over the Internet. It s prominent on the cable news stations. It s become popular on the network news. You can see it in the tabloids in the newsstands. Everywhere you can see the tragic mistakes of the modern celebrity. It s all celebrity bad behavior all the time. The media s sensational stories of celebrities personal, sad, and tragic problems have created its own industry of faux news. The sight of Paris Hilton going to jail created a frenzy of news media coverage for two full days. Hilton was the number three story on cable TV. It was the eighth most heavily covered story on network TV news. However, this celebrity faux news did not make the top ten stories covered in American newspapers. There was similar television media coverage after the death of Anna Nicole Smith. For days nearly half of cable news coverage was devoted to her story, making it by far the most heavily covered story for a week on cable. Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith are not exceptions. There are plenty of celebrity stories for the media and the paparazzi to exploit for faux news. They can choose stories involving the personal issues of Lindsey Lohan, Nicole Richie, and Britney Spears or the new legal issues of O.J. Simpson. There seems to be an endless supply of celebrity news for the media to report. The media creates and distributes celebrity faux news because it can be packaged to appear to be sensational. It involves a celebrity that we know and therefore it appears to touch us in a personal way. For the television media it means ratings at a bargain basement price. The panel discussions, the speculation, and the experts are cheap. The same issue can appear on a cable channel all day or all week. What does the American public think of all this celebrity faux news? The Pew Research Center for People and the Press completed a new national survey in July 2007. Here are its findings: An overwhelming majority of the public (87%) says celebrity scandals receive too much news coverage. This criticism generally holds across most major demographic and political groups. Virtually no one thinks there is too little coverage of celebrity scandals. Who is to blame for the excess celebrity coverage? The Pew Survey states that a majority of the public point to the media. Fully 54% of those who say celebrity news is over-covered also believe news organizations are to blame for giving these stories so much coverage. Roughly a third (32%) say the public is to blame for paying so much attention to them, and another 12% say the media and the public are both equally to blame . In summary, the survey finds that 87% of Americans feel that celebrities scandals are over covered by the media. Nobody believes that there is too little celebrity coverage, and 66% believe that the media is in some way to blame for the excess coverage. It is interesting to note that a majority of young people under thirty blamed the public for excess celebrity coverage. People over thirty years of age overwhelmingly blamed the media. This media obsession with the faux news of the sometimes troubled personal lives of celebrities is taking media attention and focus away from important national and international news stories and events in 2007. It is contributing to the dumbing down of American society. Indeed, it is very disturbing that we have heard little from the American media about the heroic story of Aung San Suu Kyi, even with the recent worldwide attention given to the sad events in Burma (Myanmar). However, we have heard far too much about the personal problems and issues of our celebrities. It is the substantive news that we could know, and don t, that should concern us. This media age of celebrity faux news comes at the expense of real news, and poses a danger to a free and literate society. James William Smith has worked in Senior management positions for some of the largest Financial Services firms in the United States for the last twenty five years. He has also provided business consulting support for insurance organizations and start up businesses. He has always been interested in writing and listening to different viewpoints on interesting topics. Visit his website at

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