Celebri-spiral™: Enough Already

Our culture is in a celebri-spiral. We're conflicted over our ridiculous, growing celebrity culture consumption via magazines, websites, and TV shows. In 2007, my love/hate conflict made me take to the blog-o-sphere. All writing on this site © Dave Singleton 2009.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

February 13, 2007: Morning Talk Shows Part One: Celebriganzas

Every day I wake up and turn on The Today Show. Watching self-proclaimed "America's First Family"-Matt, Meredith, Al and Ann-is so ingrained in me that if I channel surf and land on GMA's Diane and Chris for more than a minute, I feel like I'm cheating on my spouse. Let's not even talk about what Katie's departure did to me.

But this past week, I realized that morning talk shows are part of my celebrity culture conflict.

Are the hosts of these celebriganzas (my new term for overblown celebrity events) objective journalists or simply celebrities who cross the journalistic line to make themselves part of the story? Or, are they a hybrid.

I am used to programs like The Today Show focusing on celebrities. For better or worse, celebrity is the engine that drives all the morning shows. But what happens when TV reporters fan the flames of their own celebrity by exposing their private lives?

All this week, watching The Today Show and The NBC Nightly News cover "Trading Places: Caring for Your Parents" in America by having hosts Ann Curry and Matt Lauer, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, and Meet the Press' Tim Russert, I was moved by their personal stories and struggles, especially since my Dad died recently after a long illness and intense family care. While it was billed as "examine the challenges as many American families confront the responsibilities of raising children while at the same time face the challenges of caring for their elderly parents," the draw was clearly the news stars' personal stories with their own parents. Seeing the journalists become the story, however, reminded me how journalistic lines have blurred.

I cite this as an example since it is, perhaps, the nicest and certainly most honorable crossover coverage. It's a serious topic sensitively depicted that, ultimately, will help adults dealing with aging parent issues. But it makes the journalist part of the story. I'll be keeping my eyes open for other examples during the year. Do any stand out to you?

To the other extreme, there are entertainment journalists who cross that line all the time, and end up looking like overzealous, preening fans with cameras. Anna Nicole's death has brought out journalistic mud wrestling like nothing else in recent times.


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