I grew up in a time before gossip blogs blurred the line between the sensational and informational. Because of the history of the written word, people are conditioned to see something in print as having more credibility than, say a talk show or radio show. News shows and publications need experts, statistics, sources, while a blog need only say that they got their information from a “credible source” before the information is spread far and wide.
Especially if the news is about perennial click-draw and rapper girlfriend Amber Rose.
When her graphic photos were leaked on the Internet last week, spellcheck-phobic gossip site Mediatakeout.com attached a story from a so-called credible insider about how Amber had sent the pictures to rumored boyfriend of Nicki Minaj, Safaree Samuels, on the night of her birthday party. How awful! The skank! Once a ho, always a ho and so forth.
While the pictures of Rose were authentic, the story turned out to be pure fabrication. Nicki Minaj even send out a tweet in defense of her friend.
If this were a newspaper, a retraction would have been printed, but Media Take Out is not journalism. We’re talking about a site that is known for pushing the boundaries of good taste, grammar, relevance, and above all, truth.
I know all of this, and I have a context for it. I also know that tabloids news is much older than the Internet. What troubles me is the generation of web-surfing teens and pre-teens that are growing up after me, ones that don’t know the difference between news and gossip, the difference between sources and hear-say. The fact that Huffington Post links to the site further blurs the line.
Regardless of how you feel about celebutantes like Rose, no one deserves to be lied about. The truth is all we have, and that’s what real journalism is about. We also need to be critical of a media culture that thrives on judging those who are deemed less worthy of legitimate celebrity. The people that comment on gossip sites, asking why someone is news-worthy are asking an important, albeit, miss-worded question. The question should be: Why is this person the chosen target for our collective judgement and ridicule this week? Readers: What do you think?
If you want to know more about my thoughts on blogs and media/celebrity culture, check out one of my older posts: The Attention Economy.