I suppose it's the outcome of tabloidizing of the media that the boundaries of what constitutes serious news have become blurred. Very clearly, there are some stories that should be universally considered hard core news: a possible war, the re-election of the President, the post-Katrina flooding in New Orleans, Bengazi, Pope Benedict resigning, the housing market in Florida, California, and Arizona going in the toilet, and the recent disclosures regarding government monitoring of telephone and e-mail messages. These deserve the full-court coverage readers might expect. Call these NEWS.
Then there's the next level of stories that are probably less crucial, but newsworthy in their own way. Proceedings of city councils, malapropisms by politicians, momentary scandals, reports by scientists regarding research that is not Earth-moving, who gets awarded the Nobel Prize, sports news. Call this News.
Then we have the next level: catfights between celebrities (like, who should give a darn about the possibly staged tiff between Rianna and Amanda Bynes?), celebrity wardbrobe malfunctions, lists of Best and Worst (worst best-dressed cities, worst-dressed celebrities, best hamburgers or barbecue joints, etc.) The deserves lower-case news, or even "news" to put it in its proper place. The Huffington Post, bless it's heart,* does this regularly. But, lately, the Business Standard carried an
article entitled "Teen Mom Farrah Abraham upgrades boob size from C-cup to D-cup." That was the actual title!
This is not to say that "news" doesn't have a place. After all, sometimes it's nice to do some slumming in print beyond reading the jackanipes and common scolds on the editorial page of the New York Times. It's proper to look upon them as diversions, or even as guiltly pleasures. And, who knows, Ms. Abraham's upgrades may have business bottom line implications!
What we have a scarcity of are columnists who provide some centering for the reader. Dave Barry comes to mind. And, apparently, Art Buchwald and Lewis Grizzard did back in their times.
*Southern women understand the subtext behind when "bless its heart" is used: it's a put-down.
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