Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fame drives modern news judgment

I'm sorry that David Bowie and Glenn Frey died, but I can't say that I'm really affected by their passing. I have a CD or two of Eagles songs, and I'll play them occasionally and might remember that Frey is dead. I don't have any Bowie recordings. I was never that much of a fan.

I've been astounded at the outpouring of pain and grief over the passing of these two famous musicians. Yes, every death diminishes each of us, and these celebrities were part of our lives — some lives far more than others, obviously. Still, I've been surprised at the mourning and tributes to these two. 

I shouldn't be. I still remember the day Elvis Presley died in 1977. I was living in Hamlet, about 75 miles from Charlotte and reading the Charlotte Observer every day. The next day's front page was not just dominated by the Elvis obituary and tributes. The whole front page was dedicated to Elvis, as was the second page, the third and all the rest in the front section. A day later, readers received a new round of Elvis tributes and updates. And the day after that and the day after that.

I still think of that week as when serious journalism stopped being serious, and the whole country's decline into celebrity worship began. The Founding Fathers did not create the First Amendment to protect newspaper publishers' right to print all the news there ever can be about celebrity singers. The First Amendment protects the press because, in the naive world of the 1780s, it was thought that democracy depended upon an informed electorate, and a vigorous, independent press was necessary to provide the information voters needed.

And now we have "reality" shows starring celebrities who are adored because they are famous and presidential debates that are not debates at all, just entertainment for the masses who don't understand or care about the major issues of the day, but they love a good fight. Television, the medium that gave us rasslin', is now giving us presidential "debates."

1 comment:

surfsalterpath said...

.......one thing you nailed on the head. "journalism stopped being serious"
Many American's expect "journalists" to do their jobs and attempt to find out the TRUTH. That does not happen anymore. What a shame. Sad.