By Matt DiVenere
As long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a journalist. To me, being a journalist was to hold a position of trust and respect not only in a community, but nationally. So when it came to choosing a major at Saint Michael’s College (located in Colchester, Vt.), there was no hesitation. I walked into my first journalism class filled with enthusiasm, excitement and confidence.
Fast forward to Jan. 22. A live report on MSNBC with former U.S. Representative Jane Harman is suddenly interrupted by breaking news. However, the current conversation involved the National Security Agency and Harman’s belief that the government needed to end the Section 215 bulk phone records collection program. What could have been so important that this conversation, taking place via satellite from Switzerland, had to be interrupted?
Well, if you’ve been following the news at all lately, you would know that the breaking news was pop singer Justin Bieber facing a judge at a video bond hearing for an alleged DUI charge.
Now this isn’t about bashing Bieber. This is about the decision made by television executives to interrupt the Congresswoman for entertainment. Let’s look at this purely from a journalism perspective.
Remember when lawyer jokes were all the rage? Well, unfortunately, the only joke I hear now is about the field that I love. The definition of journalism has changed. Being a journalist now has a very negative connotation. There used to be a line drawn in the sand between the news found on your doorstep and the news found next to the check-out counter at your local grocery store.
Entertainment has become the news.
There are many reasons as to why or how this even happened. Some say it was inevitable. The uninformed believe that this is how the media needs to adapt in order to stay relevant in today’s society. To those who believe that entertainment is news, I would say that my college education disagrees.
Entertainment is not the news. You need the news, entertainment is a luxury.
Unfortunately, those who are doing the news answer to those who don’t necessarily care that there’s a difference. Entertainment brings ratings. With high ratings come advertisers, profits, etc. If a television program wants to survive, people need to be entertained. It’s the same reason why "American Idol" is on its 80th season (it’s not, it just feels like it)?
In the past five to 10 years, everyone’s attention span for news-related information has nearly become extinct. Instead, it has been replaced with the desire to know the latest gossip about our favorite “celebrities.”
In an age where there is an infinite amount of ways to collect breaking news, why focus on how other people live their lives? Why do you care more about which celebrity is pregnant than the nation’s economy? Why is a celebrity’s arrest record more important than their country’s security agency that may or may not have been spying on its citizens?
So how do you fix this infatuation with celebrities that has taken over the country? If I knew, I would be a billionaire conglomerate on my way to overtaking all of the cable networks across the country.
This situation is so absurd that it's pathetic. And there’s no easy fix.
Until someone figures out what the news has become and is brave enough to do something about it, then we will continue to have our important news be interrupted by pop stars in orange jump suits.
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