Posted by Taylor Soule
Colombian singer Juanes swapped the stage for the newsroom on Sept. 23 thanks to El Tiempo, Colombia’s largest daily newspaper. To celebrate International Day of Peace, El Tiempo management named Juanes guest editor of Tiempo de Cambiar, or Time to Change, a one-time edition dedicated to Colombia’s peacemaking efforts.
Despite positive intentions, though, I believe Juanes’ editorial status weakened the edition’s goal by overshadowing Colombia’s peacemaking efforts.
Political instability has plagued Colombia for decades due to drug trafficking, gang violence, insufficient social services, poverty and unemployment, according to the U.S. Department of State. With Colombia’s hardships mounting, El Tiempo sought to highlight the nation’s progress in the Sept. 23 edition.
By naming Juanes guest editor, however, El Tiempo pushed Colombia’s progress aside. The International Day of Peace Edition ultimately became the Juanes Edition, diverting readers’ attention from Colombia’s progress to his popularity.
Additionally, El Tiempo glamorized Colombia’s hardships by naming Juanes guest editor. According to the U.S. Department of State, 37 percent of Colombians live below the poverty line. In turn, a superstar like Juanes misrepresents Colombia’s population.
Juanes wasn’t the first celebrity to trade autographs for bylines as a guest editor, however. El Tiempo mimicked Great Britain’s The Independent, which named U2’s Bono guest editor of a 2006 edition dedicated to Africa’s HIV/AIDS outbreak.
Though I commend Bono’s and Juanes’ activism, their editorial status inappropriately meshed entertainment and news while downplaying two worthy causes.
Should the news media appoint celebrities as guest editors?