It is appalling what entertainment journalism has become. Entertainment journalism was once a source for finding out about movies and music; it used to provide us with an inside look at the profile of our favourite stars. Now we know way too much about these individuals. Entertainment journalism is an invasion of privacy and has become a gossip mill.
People embedded in the entertainment industry aren’t happy and are getting out of the game. Nancy O’Dell, formerly of Access Hollywood, well known for its coverage of tinsel town, quit the show because she felt that its direction was too sensationalist. Her spokesperson wouldn’t admit it outright, “She has spent a lot of years building respect in the entertainment community and celebrities trust her. She’s known as the nice and classy girl. She values that,” he said. This means that since she became friends with the entertainment community, she didn’t want to continue reading “news” that speculates about their private lives.
Even serious news outlets have begun to subscribe to this style of journalism, where the number of hits on a page becomes more important than fulfilling their role as the fifth estate.
One example is the Gazette’s increased use of tabloid-style material, first and foremost their coverage of the now infamous Tiger Woods scandal. The Gazette has followed the Tiger Woods story a little too much. The first article that comes up when you type Tiger-Woods-Montreal-Gazette in Google is called “The sins of Tiger Woods.” This article ran in the sports section. Typing Wood’s name in the Gazette’s search bar brings up almost 200 results in total. 140 of these were written after the car accident.
How much space does this adulterer deserve? It is nice to hear updates about a popular celebrity. It is also pertinent to hear that Woods was involved in an accident. And maybe, just maybe, it was fun to count the number of mistresses. Though it was a shocking event that no fan could have predicted, after a while spewing out slam stories one after the other becomes overkill. It is a scary thing for journalism when a respected city paper uses all their resources in order to humiliate a public figure. Woods’ personal life does not affect people in Montreal. He is a rich, successful athlete; his low moral standards do no affect us the way a politician’s ethical misconduct would.
Another story is Michael Jackson’s death. The King of Pop was about to begin his final tour when he suddenly passed away. The newsworthiness is obvious, but was the coverage too much? “From Jackson’s death on June 25 through the day of his highly publicized memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on July 7, the primetime news programs allocated about one third of their broadcast time excluding commercials. That’s 270 minutes, or the equivalent of nine whole news broadcasts without commercials,” a report by journalist Jeff Poor says.
Instead of covering all this entertainment news from the United States, more focus should have been put on why Prime Minister Stephen Harper is proroguing parliament. This is a Canadian issue pertinent to Canadian readers. Journalists are taught to keep things current, cover what is timely and relevant, but stories shouldn’t get stretched out. Some days are slower than others but entertainment news is a subset of journalism and it should never encompass every section of a paper or newscast.
The New York Times isn’t any better. After the Golden Globe Awards, style experts analyze the worst and best dressed. This year New York Times journalist Andy Port decided to point out in her article that it was a “rounder Golden Globes” this year. The writer singled out Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, and Kate Hudson, saying their upper arms made this obvious. Who is giving the okay to publish this nonsense? As much as we love to scrutinize ourselves in the privacy of our own homes, this fabricated weight gain story should not be of any interest to the New York Times and their readers. Not even TMZ or Perez Hilton spoke about this “weight gain,” perhaps because nobody cares.
This dirty work should be left to tabloids and online celeb gossip sites. I’m not interested in turning on the news or opening a paper to see celebrities’ personal lives all over the place. Respectable publications should leave this garbage reporting to the hounds that thrive on celebrities’ misfortunes. Unless the morality of a public figure affects society it’s their business and they should be able to deal with it privately. Trashy entertainment news should not be written by intelligent, trained journalists; this is a waste of talent and important resources.