Thursday, December 3, 2009

When Celebrity Trumps News

I gotta admit, I feel kinda bad for Tiger Woods these days. His personal business is totally "in the streets" right now. Not passing judgement at all, but imagine going through such a jacked-up family situation and having the whole world knowing intimate details about it almost instantly. Such is the price of celebrity, I guess. But, dang, it seems like a high price to pay.

For the last three days, information about his 2:30am car crash and speculation about what could have preceded it have been lead stories on everything from the morning "infotainment" news shows like "The Today Show" and "Good Morning America" to the national evening news broadcasts. Squeaky-clean athlete/role model possibly caught with his pants down - how scandalous! But really, that stuff happens every day to athletes, politicians, celbs and regular Joes alike. Just ask Kobe Bryant, Elliot Spitzer, George Michael or your best friend - because everyone knows someone whose honey got caught cheating.

I kinda admire Tiger's attempts to keep the information flow to a minimum, though. This is something between him and his family and has nothing to do with me and mine - still information about it is everywhere. I really don't even CARE about what goes on in his bedroom any more than I care about what goes on in my neighbor's. I really wish the media outlets would GET that and leave the Woods family be.

The worst part is that while the papers and networks are sending their reporters out to gather the latest on Tiger, information about what should really matter gets buried on page 99 or barely nets a 30 second mention on the evening news. Seriously, anyone know the status of the Health Care bill right now?

And, yes, I am a card-carrying member of the media, but we're doing a pathetic job of prioritizing as of late. And as a member of the general public, I'm blaming us, too. At production (for TV news) and front page (for news publications) meetings all over the country, editors and producers are hashing out arguments as to why one particular story is more important than another. What makes something news is often the amount of people seeking information about it. So stop asking. Stop Googling, stop buying the tabloids whose headlines promise to detail everything about the woman Tiger has supposedly been "seeing for months" and stop watching "Entertainment Tonight." If we (the general public) show we're not interested, we (the media) will stop covering it.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program...

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