Report the news, not sell it

By U-Wire

J.K. Rowling admitted in a question and answer session that the rumor surrounding Albus Dumbledore, one of her characters in the enormously popular Harry Potter series, is true — he is gay. This has been an area of contention for some time now within Harry Potter circles; however, it is not justifiably important enough to garner a spot on the home page of CNN.com

This is just the latest example of how American media has become enamored with popular culture.

Stories regarding Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton often find their way onto all types of news programs. The line between entertainment and what is newsworthy has significantly blurred over the past few years.

Important events, such as the number of people killed in Iraq on a daily basis, get far less airtime than they should. News about the decrepit state of New Orleans and the ongoing genocide in Darfur, which should warrant extensive news coverage, often goes unmentioned.

However, this indictment does not fall squarely on the shoulders of the media. The American media covers what the people of America want to hear.

Unfortunately, many times, that involves delving into the relatively unimportant lives of celebrities. The public’s apathy toward real world events does nothing but stifle important debates.

The news media in general does claim to serve the people. News regarding the sexual orientation of a character of a popular children’s book does not belong on the home page of any Web site next to news about the present state of the war in Iraq, the education system, criminal proceedings or a number of other far more important issues.

The American news media has the responsibility to place entertainment where it should be. It belongs on the back page, its own Web site and its own TV shows.

Entertainment news should not be equated with significant events. Despite this they are often given equal print and airtime.

By reporting with the same seriousness entertainment news and serious news, the media in general is creating a population of people who can no longer distinguish the difference.

Web sites such as BBCNews.com and AlJazeera.net have separate pages dedicated to entertainment, with no stories appearing at all on their home pages.

The U.S. media has embarked on a dangerous trend of trying to sell the news instead of simply reporting it.

They have a responsibility to report stories as news that has a significant affect in the lives of people. Britney Spears’ custody battle, Lindsay Lohan’s drug addiction or Dumbledore’s sexual orientation do not deserve the credit or print space they are given.

Organizations that report the news should not pass entertainment off as news. The news should not become a commodity, and news organizations should take more responsibility, given the influence they have on the American public.