Demanding truth even in trivia

I love movies and television, so glimpses into their creation and their creators are guilty pleasures for me. In other words, I love entertainment and celebrity news. But I hate that very little of it can be trusted. The line between what’s a legitimate news source and what’s rumour is blurrier than my contact lens-free eyesight, especially now that tabloids are masquerading as glossy magazines and my local newspaper runs blurbs on who’s pregnant and who’s being sued … and then retracts them when it turns out they’re wrong.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner just got married. Good for them, but why did we have to suffer through so many false reports before the actual wedding took place? Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are the non-story of the month: no one knows if they’re dating, and why should I care that they might be? I want to know if Kevin Spacey has signed up for a new movie, not speculation about his sexuality.

All reporters, even entertainment reporters, should still have journalistic integrity and do things like fact-checking and using on-the-record sources and verifying information before printing a story. It’s one thing for the tabloids to print rumours, but now, nearly every source of entertainment news has the same legitimacy as the tabloids. Even the announcements that come through the new wires use unnamed sources citing strife in a marriage, or “reports say” an actor’s in rehab.

Why can’t entertainment journalism be journalism? Journalism in general suffers today because of the appetite for instant access to information, increased competition, and reduced budgets, but celebrity journalism isn’t even in the same universe. As long as we lap it up and help sell advertising, it will continue unabated. And what could be a wholesome guilty pleasure just makes me feel dirty.

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“Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.”
Abraham Lincoln
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