Media dirty secrets — example? Justin Bieber (click to read)


The dirty little media secrets are at the bottom.  But, first, my thoughts:

Celebrity stories are news.  Some viewers / readers want to hear all the latest about celebrities.  Celebrity news is not the only news, but it is news.  Yesterday, everyone was talking Justin Bieber (and maybe today, tomorrow and for weeks to come.)

I reported about Bieber last night ON THE RECORD at 7pm.  Sure, there is a part of me that would like to take you all to a refugee camp in Sudan….or even to the Greta Home and Academy in Haiti, but I do that from time to time and frankly, people want more than my special interests.   Viewers want a mixture of stories which varies from day to day, and they want to know what is going on now, right now, today.    And guess what?  Yesterday I paid attention to Justin Bieber stories, too.  I plead guilty. I was interested in Justin Bieber.

Fortunately, there is enough time and space that we in the media can cover it all – some days it will be topics like Syria and other days it will be Justin Bieber or some other irresponsible or reckless celebrity.  We have so many media outlets – many 24/7 cable news, broadcast news, websites, magazines, etc. – that you, the news consumer, are in the driver’s seat when it comes to what you want to follow.   If you want to avoid any topic you can.  If you want to follow any topic, you can.

There will be many readers and viewers who will complain about the celebrity coverage. That’s a fair complaint since tastes and interests vary — but here is the answer: just use the remote and drift away from the news organization reporting (but go back later…since many stories are covered and many that may be of profound interest to you.)

Many news consumers claim they do not watch celebrity coverage but TV ratings can often suggest otherwise. There is a part of all of us that says we think we should not be interested in celebrity news, right? I know –  I often feel that way when I watch certain things.  I think to myself, why am I watching this? But I do.  Here is another fact (and why I don’t complain about the coverage of celebrity news):  when I was watching Justin Bieber news yesterday I could have been reading about Syria…or Sudan..or Haiti.  I have a remote control and I have a computer to go on the internet.  But, as a consumer of the news, I watched the Bieber story unfold.   I chose that.  Maybe you did too?  And maybe you are like I am wondering what it is that drew us to it!

Here is another fact:  you can have interest in celebrity stories AND other stories like war.  You don’t have to pick a team – Team Bieber or Team War.  You can even be interested in the Bieber story just because everyone is talking about it and you are curious what they are talking about or why…or maybe your children or friends are Bieber fans and their interest is somehow contagious and you caught the bug.

And now the dirty little media secrets that I promised in the headline…it also is a tip how to detect the cowards in the media, and, yes, maybe even the frauds:

1/ watch for those in the media who cover Justin Bieber by doing segments about how awful the media is covering Justin Bieber. That is the oldest trick in the book.  We used to do things like that in closing arguments in trials.  You stand before the jury and say “I am not calling Mr. ____ a liar even though you may think he is.”   Of course the lawyer IS calling the witness a liar but acts higher than that!  That’s exactly what anchors do when they want the celebrity ratings but think it will tarnish their images to cover the story (and you need to worry about anchors who are image conscious! )  By doing segments about how appalling celebrity coverage is, an anchor gets the ratings of the celebrity coverage – and gets to flash the video of the celebrity –  but thinks he or she doesn’t get his hands dirty.   Here is a fact: if you as an anchor thinks the Justin Bieber story is not news – than don’t cover it.   Do something else.  Don’t be so phony as to pull the stunt about how appalled you are at the coverage – that’s just not true.   We just aren’t that stupid – we all can see right through that one!  (By the way, come back here at post if you catch someone doing that! )

2/ there will come a time when Justin Bieber does an interview so watch for those in the media who act scandalized when that happens. Why? Because the dirty little secret is that every news organization wants that interview.  People in every news organization right now are working connections to get to Bieber.   It is the oldest trick in the book, after missing out on a TV booking, to announce “I would never want that interview.”  Yeah. right.  :)

Am I right?