Questioning the Journalistic Obsession of a Gawking Kind

U.S. President Barack Obama (C) and France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) take their places with junior G8 delegates, including Brazil's Mayora Tavares (L), for a family photo at the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy July 9, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed (ITALY POLITICS IMAGES OF THE DAY)

So this week’s big, major, humongous, out of this world top two news stories were…are you ready…no really…

1) American President Obama and French President Sarkozy, further their bromance, in giving some chick a once-over.
2) Michael Jackson…everything.

Does anyone else see how wrong, how utterly despicable and how out rightly abominable this is?

In a time, where Iranians are repainting the streets of Tehran in blood, a second stimulus package is rumored along the Beltway, Republican government officials are paying off their mistresses and could face criminal charges, a new Swine Flu vaccination is coming out and the G8 is pledging another $20 billion to fight world hunger – you mean to tell me that garbage is the news of the week?

What about the crazy 27-days of wet weather that won’t stop in the Northeast United States? Or the grapefruit sized hail storms costing millions in damages? Or what about the pythons suffocating the Florida Everglades? How about the fact that Google’s announcement to create an operating system is not only a possible insult to Open Source Coders, but also, means competition (or not) for the big boys: Microsoft and Apple?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMmX72N6EtE

Seriously? WTF American news media? What the bloody hell is wrong with you?

Did all of you suddenly fall down and smack your little heads on some concrete?

I don’t care if you frankly think Mr. Jackson had the star power of a supernova or that Sarkozy is a sleaze-ball, the fact of the matter is those stories are not news; not in the slightest and not anymore.

I mean I had to find out on Google News that my country’s Senate stayed up late on July 9 and passed 135 bills through the House. I don’t know what those 135 bills are for or even if they really have an effect on me and my life as an American citizen.

Sounds pretty intense, but not really.

News is what is happening, it is what directly affects our  survival or that of  the people around us and it is what is happening in the world.

Gossip, is not news. Gossip is in the same family with Yellow Journalism, and guess what? That time has passed…over 80-years ago.

Yesterday, I heard some crazy man held his ex-wife hostage in their home. He demanded a priest come to his house so he could re-marry her via a radio personality he was on the phone with at the same time. The SWAT team waited outside his home until he finally ended up burning the entire house to the ground. His ex-wife narrowly escaped.

Sounds like something out of a Lifetime movie. But if that psycho was living in my neighborhood, I’d like to know.

Oh and did you also know that Nestle Toll House cookie batter has three  traces of E Coli, not one but three?  So if you have some in your home, of any flavor, you are to discard or return it to the supermarket because it’s on a recall.

Nope, didn’t think so.

Baffled as I am, at the current journalistic obsession of a gawking kind, I wonder :-

1) When did CNN (and alike, let’s be fair and share the blame. I’m talking to you MSNBC, Fox News, Nightlight, Dateline and friends) become synonymous with The Star, PerezHilton.com and their tabloid friends?

2) If this is the level serious journalism has reached, what does it say about our society?

3) Are we living in an age where priorities are so warped that the definition of what makes the news has actually shifted?

4) If so, how do we shift it back?

5) What does this mean for the future of journalism?

–

Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida (’07) and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami(’08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima.

Copyright © 2009 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved

Comments

  1. @mikeschaffer says

    The problem started when the media started accepting advertising, which is to say, basically forever.

    When trying to attract viewers/readers, media has a choice:
    1) Present the most topical, informative news of the world
    OR
    2) Service the lowest common denominator.

    Guess which one they choose, more often than not?

    In good economic times, outlets probably have more leeway, but when literally every pair of ears and eyes counts (and with new reporting methods, like Arbitron's PPM), they are willing to trade in some credibility.

    The solution is actually…us! If we only pay attention to the content that matters, that is what they will present us with. I doubt that the people reading this site and others like it are part of the problem, but we can be part of the solution.

    At the end of the day, the media serve our needs for information. If we, as a collective demand and respond to what's important and not “OMGGG!!~~! Did U C Obamaaaa chekin out dat azz??” they will be forced to change their ways.

    Right now, with our current cult of personality, mainstream journalism has a big mountain to climb.

  2. The problem is it's filling a demand, Sasha. People love controversy, sensationalism, tabloid fodder – call it what you will. You only need to look at the popularity of reality TV shows to see how much people are looking for an escape from the mundaneness of real life.

    There will always be “proper news” stories on various mediums. Yet as our attention span gets less, the meaty stories will fall into the background more. Unless we go out looking for them.

    Plus ca change…

  3. You are right. I just cannot fathom how two world presidents checking out a
    girl for a few seconds is world news or how the same story behind a fallen
    pop star is important and life altering.

    CNN especially, for the last two weeks at least has turned into MTV. They've
    played more music videos than MTV has all year… something is very wrong
    with that, if they are calling themselves a 'News' station.

    That being said, MTV doesn't even play videos anymore, they broadcast
    reality television shows…

  4. Nice vent Sasha. “Gawk” journalism will always have an audience. It's part of human nature to seek entertainment through gossip and more “light-hearted” commentary. Some people prefer to turn a blind eye to the dark realities of the world.

    Is it right? Is it moral? Of course not…but it will always be evident.

    I do find comfort in the fact though, that this cultural shift in the way people share and receive news is allowing us to find information on the important things. I no longer have to wait for CNN to decide to cover serious issues, I can seek it out myself.

    It's impossible for mainstream news organizations to provide information that is news worthy to every individual, because every individual has a different idea of what's newsworthy to them. That's why we're seeing this shift, and we see mainstream news scrambling to stay alive.

    Everything the least bit newsworthy is now available to those willing to seek it out. That's where the line will be drawn. Will people be willing to seek out the news that's important or will they want it spoon fed to them.

    If you want it spoon fed to you, I hope you're a fan of Thriller.

    David

    @DavidSpinks
    @Scribnia

  5. Well said, David. I especially am partial to the last line, “If you want it
    spoon fed to you, I hope you're a fan of Thriller.”

    Such is the case, is it not?

    My biggest question/concern is that the media often can/does dictate the way
    people think and how they perceive the world as well as get information.
    Therefore, the media is currently dictating that men being men and a dead
    pop star are more important than the health of our planet, our world
    economy, the gap between the industrial nations and the third world, and two
    places undergoing a steaming civil war (China and Iran).

    That being said, it means our society is shifting gears. As Danny points out
    too, there is an emergence of reality television to an extreme. We all know
    those are mostly fake — Spencer Pratt said it himself, he was on The Hills
    and he 'acts.'

    These shifts say a lot about the mindset of a lot of people out there…and
    that worries me.

    But to each their own right? I guess my days of watching CNN are down to an
    extreme minimum now…

  6. Not quite sure I'm going to agree with you on this one – at least not completely. I'm with you that the mainstream news media does seem to have a penchant for being a little more like TMZ these days (I still question why WSVN had Anna Nicole Smith's trial as the lead story for four weeks straight. Was it news? Yes. But the lead story every night for 30 days??).

    However, all that being said, I'm going to stick up for the news media for the MJ coverage. Like him or not, his death was and will continue to be the biggest story right now. Cookie dough is yummy, but MJ was one of the largest pop icons in the history of this planet (you're seriously comparing the magnitude of his story to snakes in a swamp?). And the fact that there are real behind-the-scenes questions about any drugs he may or may not have been on will only give this story legs. Something smells fishy about it to me. And, yeah, I'd like to know what was going on. MJ was a million times larger than Anna Nicole Smith which DOES make that a lead story, in my opinion.

    The Iran story is terrible and heart-wrenching. But it doesn't take place here and it's several weeks old now. It's understandable why it's not as big a story anymore (really what have been the earth-shattering new developments over the last two weeks with this story?).

  7. 19 million people tuned in to watch the MJ memorial, and that's not countin' those that physically attended in LA (or tried to) and those that were watchin' online too. If the audience for an event is THAT big…I wouldn't consider that “garbage” at all…that's extremely news-worthy.

    I mean, I guess we should step back and define what the word news is then. Wikipedia defines it as “the communication of information on current events…” and I agree with that. It's a current event.

    I see what you're saying, but news media is general is changing…and why? Because we, the audience, are changing too.

  8. I Completely Agree. This Sensationalism is a sign of the media's general state of desperation. Journalistic Integrity has gone out the window & substance with it. North Korea, potentially a nuclear and cyber threat, has gone barely noticed by the public and mainstream media, because 6 famous people died in the span of a week. Apparently Billy Mays and Michael Jackson are more important than our national security.

    I think the problem goes much deeper though. The old model of Production/Consumption for both Brands & Media Outfits what – whatever we create, the public will buy…Now, with the rise of social media, orginizations no longer have to create content or products and hope the masses appreciate them, they can simply identify the topics with which the public is already infatuated and capitalize. Journalism used to be about breaking news, now it's about telling the story people want to hear. The problem with that is people don't know what they want to hear until it was covered by our media outlets.

    Having CNN cater to the public's sensationalist, celebrity obsessed attention span is as bad as having the media answer to the government – because they're no longer in control of what they produce. And as print media deteriorates, the industry's practices will follow suit until CNN mirrors TMZ and we have to rely on bloggers and Twitterers for breaking news and insight into our economic standing and political analysis…

  9. As per your request, my opinions on the matter. Excellent piece, and I feel as though you're absolutely right. But right now I feel like the media has an over active obsession with Obama, because he's very new in office, and he is the youngest one we've had since JFK. Also, the obvious “bromance” between him and the French President is something that we haven't seen in a while. Excellent foreign relations? It's been a while since I've seen anything about that in the media.

    I think their fancy with Obama will pass, but I'm sure they'll pick something else equally as frivolous to report upon. The news networks on television want the ratings, they want to discuss what people will watch. They think that “we” care about this kind of stuff, in the age of following celebrities on twitter, facebook, and blogs. When the truth is that they haven't actually taken a chance to see who “we” are. They think this new generation is a bunch of babies that only care about Britney's new breakdown, and whether or not MJ died from an overdose. Honestly I don't give a shit about that stuff, it amuses me and I laugh. Then I move on. I'm honestly not a big fan of the news, because it's mostly depressing, but I don't want to watch the same crap on FoxNews as I do on The Daily Top Ten on E.

    In summary, the news media needs to do their research. We're growing up, and we care. They think that they're catering to what we want by airing this kind of stuff. Honestly I think its a case of the media trying to be a “cool mom” by assuming that they're hip and understand our generation, when in fact, they do not.

  10. Somehow the media did turn into a gossip maven, and honestly, Sasha, we are feeding this flagellum! Think about it: we create the trends… we discuss what's hot and what's not on Twitter and other social networks. The media is watching us, the consumers, and they have the strange impression that we are more interested in gossip than in valuable news. I often critique this on my PR blog – like you, I ask myself: is this all they can offer? I expect so much from The Washington Post or The New York Times and sometimes the authors there appear very umh… un-knowledgeable.

    On the other hand, the PRs are called spammers for contacting them with unsolicited news. You know, I sent to these so-called journalists better news than Obama staring at some gal's deriere. But do they care? Nope, because software for children doesn't make hot headlines if you know what I mean.

    There is only one hope, Sasha: bloggers like you and others who actually still have the common sense to recognize what is value and what not.

  11. Sasha, I think this is a rant that a lot of people have been wanting to make as of late (including myself). It is certainly true that the coverage of celebrity gossip, relaity TV shows and other equally unimportant crap is overwhelming and ridiculous. It's overtaking our trusted new sources to the extremem irritation of a great number of people.

    Here's the problem: As Danny pointed out, there is an even greater number of people that thrive on and obsess over that kind of news, which is why the media continue to cover it more and more each week. The blame for this overtake of tabloid news really lies with the public and their demand for more drama. The media is simply taking advantage of a ridiculous, yet prosperous market.

    It irritates me as much as the next person to see stories like that taking up air time/ page space/ etc. in what we consider to be reputable news sources. But, as David mentioned, the majority of the public WANTS to hear/ talk about these subjects instead of hard news as an escape from reality. Look at today's trending topics onTwitter. Are they any of the important things you mentioned in your rant above? No, they are Bruno and a hastag called #unnacceptable. Unfortunately, these are the things people care about. So, the media fills their demand.

    When the PUBLIC starts caring more about the things that actually matter – the things happening around the world and in our nation that directly affect our lives and our reality – than what's happening in Hollywood, that's when we'll see the media begin to cover the important topics that are currently being overshadowed by sensationalism.

  12. As sad as it is, this is what concerns people. The young people of the world are more interested in Jon Stewart and MTV, rather than CNN. So, the news outlets are having to compete and put material to bring in that crowd. It's terrible.

    I agree with you though – G8 Summit and what is going on with Iran (as well as N. Korea, sheesh) should be headliners. They aren't. Why? I wonder if the audience just isn't there – because many don't get why it is important.

  13. That's what happens when you base success on ratings rather than responsibility.

  14. Sasha,
    It's refeshing to see a point of view that's so on target. It's even better when it's witty, full of attitude, and long on disdain for BS. You're good!

    I was unaware of the Presidential “check this chick out” photo. Was it actually presented as a news item? Wow. As you know, we traded some thoughts on the Michael Jackson coverage: I wondered why you were not tweeting about it, and you told me how you felt about. We're all good.

    Let's get to the heart of your blog: Planet earth is on fire and the Fourth Estate is at the firehouse watching TV. It's sad, isn't it? But that's what we've come to, my friend.

    To an extent, I could justify the coverage of the Michael Jackson story. Remember Journalism 101 and the 10 things that made news? “Unusual;” (man bites dog) and “Prominence.;” Well, in MJ's case, you have both.

    Yet, where's the balance? The fact is, and you note it well, there is no balance. In fact, things are way out of wack.

    Well, why is that — Mr. former journalist, PR man, Corporate Responsibility Guy — you might ask?

    Here's why: We (journalists) have gone from “covering” the news to “being” the news. That's wrong. We, now, have to be a part of the story; no more 'I'm in the background' just doing my job. My job has become part of the story.

    There are way too many culprits to count here, but here's an easy target: Larry King. The 'king' of giving us “undeserved fame.” He's the master at the 'softball' interview, which has now become the standard.

    Corporate ownership of media is another big culprit, and we'll have to take that one up at another time.

    But the other obvious felon in this story is US. Yes, we the people have allowed the media to give us this celebrity driven drivel day in and day out. We (the public) loves this sh*t. And the media is serving it to us in heaps.

    Serious minded journalists like you, Sasha, are the exception. But thank goodness for you, for you are our only hope (hokey, yes; true, for sure)

    Alonzo

  15. While I agree that the standard for what passes for news in traditional formats has been lowered, I get the impression that you are looking at the public consumption of news as one persona. When in fact it is a billion headed beasts, at the very least.

    Some days one group talks loudest about democracy being threatened in Iran. The next day another group talks louder about moon walking; and uncomfortably dismisses the issue of celebrating an artist while ignoring that he paid millions to the families of young boys to prevent them from making allegations of child molestation.

    I’m grateful for, and think that it is fortunate that, YouTubers, Twitterers, and Bloggers like yourself keep talking about the issues, and bringing to light stories we would have never heard in the old media.

    I have to go now. I see a bright shiny object…

  16. I will start with this I am one of those masses that tuned in to watch almost every story about Michael Jackson and cried like a baby during his memorial.

    That being said….

    Gossip sales and real news doesn't. Ratings are everything and real news doesn't attract ratings especially during sweeps. With the news struggling to stay afloat who wants to watch some silly story about Ecoli? Not the average American.

    Ignorance is bliss to the average Americans and gossip is fun news, real news is boring. Important things are going on in this world but the news media will never broadcast it if it doesn't appeal to the average American.

    The news media does need to step up but it really isn't the news media's fault if they are simply catering to the masses.

    People need to start paying attention. Instead of going onto perezhilton.com they should be going on to whatever news website they fancy.

    There is my vent and please pardon the grammatical errors. Great post Sasha. It really puts the state of things into perspective. Along with giving me some news items to catch up on.

  17. I couldn't have said it better! I couldn't believe that that picture has been the big “news”! Really? What has the US come to. If France media wants to report that- let them but the fact that the US has to follow is sad. Let the man be and to be honesty who cares?!

    I do have to agree with the below people love controversy. I also think that in Obama's case so many people have put him on a pedestal.. almost a hero so making a mackery of him makes them feel better and may even humanize him.

    As for MJ – I think people wanted it. My own mother called me crying saying that she could remember when
    MJ was just 11 yrs old and she was pregnant with my brother. I think alot of people are remembering a younger version of him and associating his music, his voice, his dance with memorable times in their lives… so that being said I 'm not totally opposed to the MJ coverage.

  18. arnteriksen says

    Hi Sasha. I find your blog post to the point and correct in its assesment of how the newschannels operate today. Actually I think the whole situation should have been vise versa. The News Channels should give out real, important news and leave the gossipnews and celebrity stories to the different websites that thrive on these stories. The people that want that kind of news will find it on the web anyway.
    What they are doing is screwing with their core audience. I watched alot of CNN and MSNBC before, but it has turned into something I'm not interested anymore. The danger of mass media newschannels is that they don't focus in presenting the best news possible, they tend to go with the flow and present popular stories thinking they are doing a great job.
    I'm concerned for the business of journalism as a whole, because they seem to forget that they should stick to what their audience wants, and that is daily news based on good journalistic work and research presented in a matter that engages and informes in an objectively manner.
    On the brigth side, this gives opportunity for small independent channels to take position at a niche marked and give news the way it should be. Relevant content is important – no matter which business you operate in – and you need to take care of your audience.
    So yeah I agree with you – CNN and the other newschannels are not living up to their audiences expectations, and this I belive will be their downfall in the long run, as they no longer will be seen as serious news providers.
    Arnt Eriksen
    @arnteriksen

  19. I can definitely see your point about Anna Nicole Smith. I was a junior in
    university I believe when that happened, and I remember being quite shocked
    that she received and still receives a crazy amount of coverage.

    I know that this has been going on for a long time, and it's not just
    Michael Jackson — so I don't want to say that I blame him…but I just feel
    that to such a large extent everything has turned into a circus…and the
    news media is at the front of the line.

    Michael Jackson was a large pop star, I agree. People will talk about him
    the same way they talk about John Lennon and Elvis — this I do not doubt —
    but ignore the world around us because those events are not 'happening here'
    I think is wrong. We are no long in the 1920s and this is no longer an
    isolation age. What happens in the world around us will affect us in some
    way shape or form in the future. There is no doubt about that. While, Iran
    it not as big of a story as it was before … the fact that their current
    President-Select, is just that — a President-Select, still affects us as
    people living in the US where a newly selected official, who is
    anti-American is in office. Granted this would have never been such a big
    deal before…but the fact of the matter is Ahmadinejad has built up so much
    over the years, that I would put it past him to strike a deal with North
    Korea.

    Not that I'm a paranoid individual, I just think that we live in an age of
    globalization, and what happens on the other side of the planet will affect
    us in some shape or form, therefore, I don't think that knowing if Michael
    Jackson died from a drug overdose will help us in the long run.

    Thanks for your comment though, really appreciate reading another POV.

  20. Very good points Mike. That makes perfect sense, actually. I know you
    were/are a huge Michael Jackson fan too, so your opinion I take to heart.

    My only concern and question is, that if we are the ones with the means or
    the power to say NO I want real news, are there really so few of us to even
    be taken seriously?

    Someone else further down, I believe it was Ajay, did point out that 30
    million people watched his Memorial Service on the television. But then I
    look at the situation with Princess Diana, and while a good chunk of her
    problems went on for nearly ten years after her death — I didn't see the
    media coverage the same way. It wasn't overkill, like it was with Anna
    Nicole Smith for example.

    And I think that's the problem, it is OKAY to cover Michael Jackson and
    Obama/Sarkozy checking out some chicks, but at the same time, there should
    be some sort of fair balance.

  21. Hey Ajay, thanks for your comment. I know you were a huge Michael Jackson
    fan, like Mike S., further up on the comments.

    Perhaps, 'garbage' was a strong term — However, I still do not think that
    Michael Jackson should be taking up what seems like 80% of my news feed. It
    should be taking up 80% of Perez Hilton's website and TMZ.

    His death will not affect my taxes, my healthcare or have any affect on the
    135 bills the Senate passed last night — that's my point. There is no
    balance.

    Thanks for your feedback, really appreciate it!

  22. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said the word
    'sensationalism.' I absolutely have nothing to add. Well said, David. 🙂

  23. You bring up an excellent point on how you and people like you feel about
    the news when you say that you find it amusing and then move on. I think
    that that is so important because it is not what the news media at the
    moment is realizing.

    Sure, it was great to cover Michael Jackson when he died, Billy Mays as
    well. But afterwards, there is a huge difference between continuing coverage
    and then moving up and keeping the public updated.

    I feel that what you just descibed is a huge misunderstanding between our
    current news media and their publics.

  24. Thanks Mihaela — you brought up a good point about the trends we discuss on
    Twitter and FB and the 'trends.' It's like how Amazon.com became an
    #AmazonFail and CNN with the Iranian election coverage because #CNNFail —
    the Internet dictated their programming. But as you point out its quite
    possible that we are responsible for allowing, even encouraging the news
    media to look at our 'trends' and cover them. But trends are just that, they
    are 'trends' not news.

    We wanted Iran coverage, we got Iran coverage. We talk about Michael Jackson
    — for example — I do not think dictates we want to be bombarded with it.

    The line between what is hard news and the likes of TMZ are getting
    blurrier. Especially, when you think about the fact that by chance it was
    TMZ who broke the story of the death of Michael Jackson — no the LA Times.

    Maybe we do expect too much from the Post or the Times. That is quite
    possible.

  25. I know you and Danny are talking about the newsmedia filling the demands of
    the public — and I can see where that is a legitimate case in terms of
    maybe the #AmazonFail — but the media is made up of a set of responsible
    journalist who went to school have degrees and should know better. So I'm
    rather confused I should say, about the fact that I feel like these people
    should know better.

    It is there job to inform the public about the world around them, not the
    other way around. I mean what if I didn't have computer access? What if I
    was stuck in an airport or somewhere where the Internet was down, and I all
    I had was television, MSNBC or Fox News — all I would hear right now would
    be Michael Jackson.

    Down to the supposed investigative reporters like Anderson Cooper. It's like
    watching a tabloid masked.

  26. But my question is, since when does the news media — not Perez Hilton —
    cater to the masses? When was it ever acceptable to tell people what they
    want to hear?

    Isn't that the easy way out?

    Isn't the news, and hard news especially, supposed to be about communicating
    ideas, and relating information. This being the things going on around you.
    I mean 80% of what is going on in the world right now has absolutely,
    nothing to do with Michael Jackson, but why does it seem to reflect that
    way?

    I'm not doubting his greatness for what he did as a musical artist and
    dancer (his personal life aside) — I'm simply wondering when did the real
    sources for news become TMZ?

    If I wanted to know the juicy gossip I would go to TMZ or I'm Not Obsessed
    or DListed etc., but I want to know what's up with a second stimulus, and I
    want to know what Obama is talking to the Pope about in the Vatican today.

    I'm not saying the news media needs to cater to me, but I think they need to
    step up to the plate and take responsibility for reporting the news…not
    'trends.'

  27. oh, I agree, my mother can't stop talking about it either. One lady I work
    with was in tears, she used to be in love with him growing up. She is only a
    few years younger than Michael Jackson.

    I don't think that there should be an ax on his coverage, I just think that
    it should be moved to another outlet. The reason AOL has TMZ is for that
    reason. It's not the reason CNN and MSNBC and Fox News are around. Their job
    is the news, not gossip, heresay and trends.

    When a story breaks, it it up to them to cover and report what is going on
    — not to beat a dead horse (no pun intended).

    Funny about the Obama picture — I believe it was an Italian paper that
    originally put the photo/video up — but we picked it up. I heard about it,
    and they replayed it twice on Good Morning America on ABC this morning.

  28. I have nothing to add. You said exactly what I've been thinking. I think
    your sentence, “What they are doing is screwing with their core audience.”
    is the key.

    Me and people like me, and you, we are the core audience for CNN — we are
    not they key audience for TMZ. The mere fact that CNN/MSNBC/Fox News etc.,
    have turned into semi-TMZs is alienating us.

    As this is happening, the future of journalism and what we saw it grow into
    and now grow into something else — becomes another beast. And I'm not so
    sure I like this new beast.

    Thank you for your comment, appreciate you taking the time to 🙂

  29. Well said, David. Very good point.

  30. The news media should be looking at ways to get the news media there — if things keep going the way they are going — CNN/MSNBC/Fox News & alike will be out of a job at an extreme for
    a) alienating their target audience
    b) becoming TMZ

    With the fact that TMZ broke the Michael Jackson death, NOT the LA Times — well, why go to CNN when I get get the juicer gossip from TMZ. Why eventually watch CNN, if they aren't my gossip 'experts' but that's what they are covering.

    I mean the above is an extreme example, but still. Our news sources, need to be covering the 'news.'

    When they find out WHAT drug kill MJ, tell me that on CNN and what is inside of that Drug. Until then, don't tell me for 7 days that you THINK that's how he died.

    Great point, Lauren, thank you.

  31. Thank you for your comment Alonzo, you bring you many valid points.

    Especially, the bit about the “unusual” and the “prominence.”

    My concern is, when is enough enough? And we move on to the other things that are happening. The world doesn't stop turning just because the King of Pop died, or that our President is checking out girls in Europe.

  32. Excellent points, Steve. Thank you for your comments. 🙂

  33. andrearizk says

    Girl, you hit the nail on the head. So what if Obama checked out that girl's ass. We all do it. We're all human. So why is that news?

  34. …that's what I'm trying to figure out. It's like, what? They'd rather them check out guys, and change the meaning of 'bromance?'

    LOL.

  35. mistybelardo says

    I believe that the same thing is happening all over the world. Where the news is focused on either gossip, celebrity news, or some mundane acts of misconducts. We may not be able to stop that type of media hype as there are some people who clamor for it and as we know, its still readership and in the case of the web based news, page views and comments. Plus, the feeling that if they don't feature it, other publications will and beat them at the ratings game.

    Sad as it may be, but unless people stop reading and wanting that kind of news, we will see it more and more. Its a good thing that we now have the freedom to check out other relevant news for ourselves, and we can also voice out our opinion, just like what you are doing here and allowing people to share.

    Gone are the days where we need to go out on the streets and do protests and hope that we get the attention. The digital world has given us a bigger space and more audience to actually react and share views and somehow influence the new generation of journalist to be responsible and balanced.

  36. andrearizk says

    Girl, you hit the nail on the head. So what if Obama checked out that girl's ass. We all do it. We're all human. So why is that news?

  37. …that's what I'm trying to figure out. It's like, what? They'd rather them check out guys, and change the meaning of 'bromance?'

    LOL.

  38. mistybelardo says

    I believe that the same thing is happening all over the world. Where the news is focused on either gossip, celebrity news, or some mundane acts of misconducts. We may not be able to stop that type of media hype as there are some people who clamor for it and as we know, its still readership and in the case of the web based news, page views and comments. Plus, the feeling that if they don't feature it, other publications will and beat them at the ratings game.

    Sad as it may be, but unless people stop reading and wanting that kind of news, we will see it more and more. Its a good thing that we now have the freedom to check out other relevant news for ourselves, and we can also voice out our opinion, just like what you are doing here and allowing people to share.

    Gone are the days where we need to go out on the streets and do protests and hope that we get the attention. The digital world has given us a bigger space and more audience to actually react and share views and somehow influence the new generation of journalist to be responsible and balanced.

  39. Hi Sasha. I find your blog post to the point and correct in its assesment of how the newschannels operate today. Actually I think the whole situation should have been vise versa. The News Channels should give out real, important news and leave the gossipnews and celebrity stories to the different websites that thrive on these stories. The people that want that kind of news will find it on the web anyway.

    What they are doing is screwing with their core audience. I watched alot of CNN and MSNBC before, but it has turned into something I'm not interested anymore. The danger of mass media newschannels is that they don't focus in presenting the best news possible, they tend to go with the flow and present popular stories thinking they are doing a great job.

    I'm concerned for the business of journalism as a whole, because they seem to forget that they should stick to what their audience wants, and that is daily news based on good journalistic work and research presented in a matter that engages and informes in an objectively manner.

    On the brigth side, this gives opportunity for small independent channels to take position at a niche marked and give news the way it should be. Relevant content is important – no matter which business you operate in – and you need to take care of your audience.

    So yeah I agree with you – CNN and the other newschannels are not living up to their audiences expectations, and this I belive will be their downfall in the long run, as they no longer will be seen as serious news providers.

    Arnt Eriksen

    @arnteriksen

  40. I can definitely see your point about Anna Nicole Smith. I was a junior in

    university I believe when that happened, and I remember being quite shocked

    that she received and still receives a crazy amount of coverage.

    I know that this has been going on for a long time, and it's not just

    Michael Jackson — so I don't want to say that I blame him…but I just feel

    that to such a large extent everything has turned into a circus…and the

    news media is at the front of the line.

    Michael Jackson was a large pop star, I agree. People will talk about him

    the same way they talk about John Lennon and Elvis — this I do not doubt —

    but ignore the world around us because those events are not 'happening here'

    I think is wrong. We are no long in the 1920s and this is no longer an

    isolation age. What happens in the world around us will affect us in some

    way shape or form in the future. There is no doubt about that. While, Iran

    it not as big of a story as it was before … the fact that their current

    President-Select, is just that — a President-Select, still affects us as

    people living in the US where a newly selected official, who is

    anti-American is in office. Granted this would have never been such a big

    deal before…but the fact of the matter is Ahmadinejad has built up so much

    over the years, that I would put it past him to strike a deal with North

    Korea.

    Not that I'm a paranoid individual, I just think that we live in an age of

    globalization, and what happens on the other side of the planet will affect

    us in some shape or form, therefore, I don't think that knowing if Michael

    Jackson died from a drug overdose will help us in the long run.

    Thanks for your comment though, really appreciate reading another POV.

  41. Very good points Mike. That makes perfect sense, actually. I know you

    were/are a huge Michael Jackson fan too, so your opinion I take to heart.

    My only concern and question is, that if we are the ones with the means or

    the power to say NO I want real news, are there really so few of us to even

    be taken seriously?

    Someone else further down, I believe it was Ajay, did point out that 30

    million people watched his Memorial Service on the television. But then I

    look at the situation with Princess Diana, and while a good chunk of her

    problems went on for nearly ten years after her death — I didn't see the

    media coverage the same way. It wasn't overkill, like it was with Anna

    Nicole Smith for example.

    And I think that's the problem, it is OKAY to cover Michael Jackson and

    Obama/Sarkozy checking out some chicks, but at the same time, there should

    be some sort of fair balance.

  42. Hey Ajay, thanks for your comment. I know you were a huge Michael Jackson

    fan, like Mike S., further up on the comments.

    Perhaps, 'garbage' was a strong term — However, I still do not think that

    Michael Jackson should be taking up what seems like 80% of my news feed. It

    should be taking up 80% of Perez Hilton's website and TMZ.

    His death will not affect my taxes, my healthcare or have any affect on the

    135 bills the Senate passed last night — that's my point. There is no

    balance.

    Thanks for your feedback, really appreciate it!

  43. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said the word

    'sensationalism.' I absolutely have nothing to add. Well said, David. 🙂

  44. You bring up an excellent point on how you and people like you feel about

    the news when you say that you find it amusing and then move on. I think

    that that is so important because it is not what the news media at the

    moment is realizing.

    Sure, it was great to cover Michael Jackson when he died, Billy Mays as

    well. But afterwards, there is a huge difference between continuing coverage

    and then moving up and keeping the public updated.

    I feel that what you just descibed is a huge misunderstanding between our

    current news media and their publics.

  45. Thanks Mihaela — you brought up a good point about the trends we discuss on

    Twitter and FB and the 'trends.' It's like how Amazon.com became an

    #AmazonFail and CNN with the Iranian election coverage because #CNNFail —

    the Internet dictated their programming. But as you point out its quite

    possible that we are responsible for allowing, even encouraging the news

    media to look at our 'trends' and cover them. But trends are just that, they

    are 'trends' not news.

    We wanted Iran coverage, we got Iran coverage. We talk about Michael Jackson

    — for example — I do not think dictates we want to be bombarded with it.

    The line between what is hard news and the likes of TMZ are getting

    blurrier. Especially, when you think about the fact that by chance it was

    TMZ who broke the story of the death of Michael Jackson — no the LA Times.

    Maybe we do expect too much from the Post or the Times. That is quite

    possible.

  46. I know you and Danny are talking about the newsmedia filling the demands of

    the public — and I can see where that is a legitimate case in terms of

    maybe the #AmazonFail — but the media is made up of a set of responsible

    journalist who went to school have degrees and should know better. So I'm

    rather confused I should say, about the fact that I feel like these people

    should know better.

    It is there job to inform the public about the world around them, not the

    other way around. I mean what if I didn't have computer access? What if I

    was stuck in an airport or somewhere where the Internet was down, and I all

    I had was television, MSNBC or Fox News — all I would hear right now would

    be Michael Jackson.

    Down to the supposed investigative reporters like Anderson Cooper. It's like

    watching a tabloid masked.

  47. But my question is, since when does the news media — not Perez Hilton —

    cater to the masses? When was it ever acceptable to tell people what they

    want to hear?

    Isn't that the easy way out?

    Isn't the news, and hard news especially, supposed to be about communicating

    ideas, and relating information. This being the things going on around you.

    I mean 80% of what is going on in the world right now has absolutely,

    nothing to do with Michael Jackson, but why does it seem to reflect that

    way?

    I'm not doubting his greatness for what he did as a musical artist and

    dancer (his personal life aside) — I'm simply wondering when did the real

    sources for news become TMZ?

    If I wanted to know the juicy gossip I would go to TMZ or I'm Not Obsessed

    or DListed etc., but I want to know what's up with a second stimulus, and I

    want to know what Obama is talking to the Pope about in the Vatican today.

    I'm not saying the news media needs to cater to me, but I think they need to

    step up to the plate and take responsibility for reporting the news…not

    'trends.'

  48. oh, I agree, my mother can't stop talking about it either. One lady I work

    with was in tears, she used to be in love with him growing up. She is only a

    few years younger than Michael Jackson.

    I don't think that there should be an ax on his coverage, I just think that

    it should be moved to another outlet. The reason AOL has TMZ is for that

    reason. It's not the reason CNN and MSNBC and Fox News are around. Their job

    is the news, not gossip, heresay and trends.

    When a story breaks, it it up to them to cover and report what is going on

    — not to beat a dead horse (no pun intended).

    Funny about the Obama picture — I believe it was an Italian paper that

    originally put the photo/video up — but we picked it up. I heard about it,

    and they replayed it twice on Good Morning America on ABC this morning.

  49. I have nothing to add. You said exactly what I've been thinking. I think

    your sentence, “What they are doing is screwing with their core audience.”

    is the key.

    Me and people like me, and you, we are the core audience for CNN — we are

    not they key audience for TMZ. The mere fact that CNN/MSNBC/Fox News etc.,

    have turned into semi-TMZs is alienating us.

    As this is happening, the future of journalism and what we saw it grow into

    and now grow into something else — becomes another beast. And I'm not so

    sure I like this new beast.

    Thank you for your comment, appreciate you taking the time to 🙂

  50. Well said, David. Very good point.

  51. The news media should be looking at ways to get the news media there — if things keep going the way they are going — CNN/MSNBC/Fox News & alike will be out of a job at an extreme for

    a) alienating their target audience

    b) becoming TMZ

    With the fact that TMZ broke the Michael Jackson death, NOT the LA Times — well, why go to CNN when I get get the juicer gossip from TMZ. Why eventually watch CNN, if they aren't my gossip 'experts' but that's what they are covering.

    I mean the above is an extreme example, but still. Our news sources, need to be covering the 'news.'

    When they find out WHAT drug kill MJ, tell me that on CNN and what is inside of that Drug. Until then, don't tell me for 7 days that you THINK that's how he died.

    Great point, Lauren, thank you.

  52. Thank you for your comment Alonzo, you bring you many valid points.

    Especially, the bit about the “unusual” and the “prominence.”

    My concern is, when is enough enough? And we move on to the other things that are happening. The world doesn't stop turning just because the King of Pop died, or that our President is checking out girls in Europe.

  53. Excellent points, Steve. Thank you for your comments. 🙂

  54. andrearizk says

    Girl, you hit the nail on the head. So what if Obama checked out that girl's ass. We all do it. We're all human. So why is that news?

  55. …that's what I'm trying to figure out. It's like, what? They'd rather them check out guys, and change the meaning of 'bromance?'

    LOL.

  56. mistybelardo says

    I believe that the same thing is happening all over the world. Where the news is focused on either gossip, celebrity news, or some mundane acts of misconducts. We may not be able to stop that type of media hype as there are some people who clamor for it and as we know, its still readership and in the case of the web based news, page views and comments. Plus, the feeling that if they don't feature it, other publications will and beat them at the ratings game.

    Sad as it may be, but unless people stop reading and wanting that kind of news, we will see it more and more. Its a good thing that we now have the freedom to check out other relevant news for ourselves, and we can also voice out our opinion, just like what you are doing here and allowing people to share.

    Gone are the days where we need to go out on the streets and do protests and hope that we get the attention. The digital world has given us a bigger space and more audience to actually react and share views and somehow influence the new generation of journalist to be responsible and balanced.