Posted by: Joanie Barry
Last night marked the 84th Annual Academy Awards. Reporters line up and down the red carpet trying to get the best picture of the biggest celebrity. Fashion police, like Joan Rivers, wait to broadcast their opinions on TV as soon as people walk on to the red carpet. All of the drama and all of the attention of the Oscars bring to my mind one thing. Is entertainment news necessary or is it distracting?
Every legitimate journalism school in the country teaches media ethics. Most schools teach ethics based of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. The code’s goal is to create guidelines to help protect and inform citizens. This means that journalists should always have the interests of the people or audience at heart, not the advertisers, not the company they work for, and especially not the government.
However, this poses a new predicament for journalist. If the reader is the only audience that matters, then how do we provide what they want and need. Entertainment journalism represents this dilemma. Do people really need to know about what dress Angelina Jolie wore to the Oscars? Is Oscar coverage more important than the upcoming primaries? How do we get across to the reader what is important, when there is so much news to sort through?
For the past couple years media’s validity has been brought into question. People want to know the difference between journalism and entertainment, which is understandable. The sheer number of places to find news can be overwhelming. Television alone there is CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, NBC, and CBS to name a few typical news stations. In addition to traditional news, audiences have to sort between specialty news sources such as ESPN, E!, or even Comedy Central to decipher what is credible news and what is sensational news.
Obviously, there is not a single solution to our media overload. Maybe entertainment news is unnecessary, but as journalist we don’t have the right to tell people what to care about. However, as journalists we have the ability to make it easier for them to understand. How? By doing what we were trained to do. Report as accurately and objectively as possible. Check your sources. Something as simple as correctly citing can help our audiences. As mentioned earlier, our goal as writers is to keep the public informed. Even with the mass amounts of media there are, we can help sift through the clutter by being good journalists.