So the news broke recently that Angelina Jolie is divorcing Brad Pitt, ending what may be the last true “power couple”. That isn’t what I want to talk about, though. What I want to talk about is the media’s reaction to this. I found out about this thanks to a CNN breaking news alert on my phone. I bopped onto cnn.com on my computer and, look at that. Not only is it their top “news” story of the moment, but they put the words “It’s Over” in the same giant ass font that you normally reserve for talking about war, terror attacks, or the outcome of a presidential election. I don’t know about anyone else, but this seems to sum up so many problems we have in our world right now, and how the media fuels them.
I cannot be the only person who has felt the rise of celebrity-driven journalism over the past few years, right? We care about celebrities almost more than we care about actual events happening in our world. Hell, there’s a whole group of celebrities who are famous just for being famous (can anyone honestly explain the appeal of the Khardashian/Jenner clan in any other way?). This is the kind of shit that people care about, and people who run news organizatons seem to know this and pander. After all, they need to satisfy shareholders and cororate boards that they’re making their fair share of money, right? Am I alone in thinking this has done a disservice to what media is supposed to stand for?
I don’t think I am. And I brought this up because I think this has shaped our election coverage, and I’m not alone.
If you go to the 40 minute mark of this podcast, the guys interview a reporter from CNN, who pretty pointedly says that the executives (who care more about eyeballs and ratings) can do a lot to drive coverage more than actual news editors and the like. I think this is a big part of how a bigoted joke like Donald Trump became a major party candidate and has come so far. The man is a celebrity, and a bad one at that. But we love celebrities, so we cover the circus that follows them. If there had been any measure of journalistic integrity, they would have dismissed this clown out of hand last year. Instead, we are where we are.
Sometimes, seeing what makes “breaking news” is way more telling than it should be.