by Kent Sterling
Someone should stand up to TMZ and tell them that we just don’t care what they report.
I’m not talking about the rabble that consumes gossip as a guilty pleasure. I’m talking about the media. A story appears on TMZ, and suddenly normal people are asking dumb questions to satisfy the public’s curiosity about something that is none of our business.
The latest story of this ilk is whether Indiana Pacers wing Paul George is the father of a child being carried by a woman in Miami. He was quizzed about the report this morning.
I’m as goofy as the next guy about reading gossip, and I am actually an admirer of the TMZ television show. The staging is clever; the content is insipid. So of course, it’s a big success.
The blurring of the lines between news and gossip is driven by the craving for page views, and if TMZ.com can get ten million people to point and click because it reports that Selena Gomez is a drunk, Bruce Jenner is pissed because he looks too feminine, and George is going to be a dad, why shouldn’t traditional media share in the bonanza?
There needs to be a line somewhere, and if traditional media isn’t going to enforce it, who the hell will? Our curiosity as media consumers shouldn’t drive every editorial decision made by the “respectable” media.
“Did you have sex with a lady in Miami that produced a fetus that she continues to carry?” is not a question I am ever going to pose to a good friend, much less a professional basketball player whom I barely know.
Consumers are not owed that information, and news outlets are under no obligation to provide it.
Fame comes with the miserable cost of being held accountable for behavior that should be private, and ultimately we are responsible because we consume it. There is no point in trying to cajole millions to care about only those things that are truly important – our families, friends, finances, and choice of cable/satellite provider. That ship sailed centuries ago, and I am a not-so-proud passenger who giddily awaits an enabled and self-immersed boob like Justin Bieber to learn that even a pampered life has boundaries.
The grown-ups in this equation needs to be the big time media that can decide to set the agenda or follow TMZ into an abyss where curiosity determines content.
Maybe I’m a little haughty is hoping for the Indianapolis Star, the local TV news departments, and radio stations like WIBC to set the agenda rather than responding to a money grab by TMZ, the National Enquirer, and the other gossip mongers, but I still have hope that someone will decide that journalism isn’t simply a response for what readers, viewers, and listeners crave.
Indianapolis media are usually ignore this kind of idiocy because little happens here that interests the bottom feeders. I hoped it was because they were above it. We learned different this week. TMZ squawks, and the echo is everywhere – even in quaint Marion County.
As the chief potentate of my own little corner of the media world, I can only control what I do. If I talk to George tonight after the game against Portland, I will be as likely to ask George about his private life as he would be to ask about mine.
He won’t ask because he doesn’t care what I do out of the public eye, and I won’t ask for the same reason.