Celebrity editors outshine worthwhile causes

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.

Photo by Taylor Soule

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?

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3 responses to “Celebrity editors outshine worthwhile causes

  1. (Invoking the style of Dr. Perry Cox from Scrubs) Um, no, no, no-no-no-no, no, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

    I think you are right. These celebrity editor, no matter how pure their intentions, overshadow the causes they seek to help. In the end, does a reader care about HIV/AIDS research, or what Bono has to say? I respect them for wanting to get involved. Maybe a few more people will actually take notice.

    I think that could be accomplished by them writing an op-ed piece for these papers. The paper could publish it on the front page. These amateurs have no business trying to edit or manage writers because it’s not what they do. Papers shouldn’t dilute their brand for a cheap stunt.

    • I like your comment about a “cheap stunt.” Though newspapers strive to highlight worthy causes by appointing celebrity editors, I feel celebrities’ fame cheapens both the worthy cause and the newspaper’s image. The newspaper, to elaborate, appears more concerned about increasing readership than about informing the public, potentially harming readers’ regard of the media.

  2. Very interesting topic, Taylor. I haven’t read much about Columbia recently, so I appreciate you bringing something new to to table.

    I agree, I think that sometimes celebrities overshadow what really matters when it comes to their affiliation with a charity, issue, etc. It’s hard to distinguish if they are truly interested and wanting to help, or if it is just to get their name and face out there. I am a little weary when I see that a celebrity is promoting a charity– don’t get me wrong there are some celebrities that are truly wanting to help and I appreciate them.

    With media in general- it is hard to tell what is authentic or what is promotional.

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