Editor Speaks Out: ‘Time and place’ for guilty-pleasure news

Michelle Collins

This past week, Senior Senate Democrats prepared a proposal that would affect the war in Iraq substantially. Such an important move in the war should have made front page news, but Britney Spears shaving her head and going in and out of rehab was there instead.

It’s obvious that many Americans take guilty pleasure in reading about the lives of celebrities, especially when they do something outrageous. I myself love celebrity news, but there’s no reason why it should take precedence on official, respected news stations and in newspapers when our country’s at war.

Celebrity news has always been mentioned in the “regular” news, but never to the extent that it has been recently. Is there really nothing more important going on in the world that we have to report on Anna Nicole Smith’s body every hour, on the hour? As I briefly mentioned above, Senate Democrats recently prepared a legislation that would limit the role of U.S. troops in Iraq to counterterrorism efforts. They hope this proposal will stop the White House from sending more troops to Baghdad. During a time when many Americans are concerned with the future of the war in Iraq, this news should have taken priority over Spears’ mishaps.

In the past two weeks, I told three separate people what I was getting my bachelor’s degree in this May: journalism. All three people answered with the same sympathetic response: “I’m sorry.” It’s not because journalism jobs are scarce, or that the pay is bad, although those may be true in some cases. Instead, these people were apologetic because of the direction news has gone. Now that the Dan Rathers of the business are gone, it seems like reporters are being told to report on subjects that, in the real world, are really not important.

Again, I’m not saying I don’t enjoy celebrity news; I just think it belongs in the right media. If I’m reading The New York Times, or watching Nightline news on ABC, I don’t want to see Britney’s bald head or Anna’s baby with three potential fathers. There’s a time and place to report this kind of news.