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Arment Dietrich

Celebrity Spin, Sensationalism Destroying Media Judgment, Numbing Real News

By: Arment Dietrich | October 9, 2007 | 
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Here we go again!

O.J. Simpson, the man who went from “Trying Harder” for Avis to transfixing a nation as his Ford Bronco raced the California freeways, is at it again.  And just as we’ve come to expect, his recent Las Vegas arrest captivates headlines that reach far beyond the tabloids.  Do we really care?

When Anna Nicole Smith died, the media could not stop themselves.  Recently, her daughter celebrated her first birthday in bigger-than-life-Elvis-style.  And again, from Entertainment Tonight to the Chicago Tribune, the story captured headlines for two weeks.

Britney Spears finally lost custody of her children with K-Fed proving to the courts that he will make for a better parent.  In markets coast-to-coast, this week it was the lead, breaking story even as the President vetoed the S-CHIP health care program that leaves millions of children without access to vaccines, doctors, or hospital care. 

Last week, the Guinness Book of World Records for 2008 touted its annual winners.  What’s the most popular television show in the world?  CSI: Miami.  Ironically, this week’s episode spun the pop culture tale of a young woman made into a celebrity by bloggers, cutthroat reporters, and crazed paparazzi clamoring to track her every move.

Whether watching Emmy-winning Boston Legal, Law and Order, or Brothers and Sisters, there’s a dangerous but often realistic portrayal of how the legitimate media cover courtroom drama and how camera phones stalk the every move of provocative characters.

There’s part of me that just wants to scream, and another part that empathizes.

For decades, public relations professionals have been accused of spinning stories and distorting truth.   And at the same time, journalists – both professional and citizen reporters – proclaim their First Amendment rights to show and tell the full story – even if it is only titillating and provocative, and not news at all.

It’s time to broaden the conversation about the Fight Against Destructive Spin.  Who is spinning the spin?  And why, as a society, are we such willing consumers?  – Shawn Kahle