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1Celebrity CultureAre Americans Too Focused on Celebrities?Howard AltmanMBillionaire lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Stewartreceived heavy media coverage after her release froma West Virginia prison on March 4, 2005. The mediasay they cover celebrities heavily because of strongreader and viewer interest, but critics say excessivecoverage of celebrities diverts attention from moreserious journalistic pursuits and gives youngerreaders a distorted view of reality.From CQ Researcher,March 18, 2005.artha is everywhere. For days before and after her releasefrom prison, she is the blazing star around which television, the Internet, newspapers and magazines revolve.There she is, newly svelte and smiling sweetly, leaving prison.Waving girlishly and bussing the pilot on the cheek as she boardsa private jet to return to her upstate New York estate. Joking withreporters about not getting cappuccino in prison and missing freshlemons. Lovingly stroking her handsome horses over the pasturefence. Addressing adoring employees at Martha Stewart OmniMediaand showing off the shawl crocheted for her by a fellow inmate.Domestic diva, media magnate, hero, outcast, convict, comeback kid and soon-to-be-star of her own reality show — MarthaStewart is among the few people on Earth (along with JenniferAniston and Brad Pitt) capable of diverting the media from the allconsuming feeding frenzy of the Michael Jackson child-molestationtrial.In short, Martha is the essence of celebrity — and we can’t takeour eyes off her.On a very basic, biological basis, scientists say we humans arehardwired to be fascinated with celebrity, and that our brainsreceive pleasurable chemical stimuli when we see familiar faces.“Celebrity journalism has never been hotter,” says WashingtonPost media critic Howard Kurtz. “What used to be the realm ofPeople magazine and “Entertainment Tonight” now has a footholdin every part of the media business. That’s why there are 1,000journalists camped out in California for the Michael Jackson trial.That’s why magazines and newspaper gossip columns breathlesslyNot to be sold, copied, or redistributed. Property of SAGE.1

2   S o c i a l S t r u c t u r e , P r o c e ss e s , a n d C o n t r o lThe constant barrage of celebrityhas led more and more people to risktheir dignity, and even their lives inThe percentage of pages in news magazines dedicated to celebritiesand entertainment doubled from 1980 to 2003, while coverage ofsome cases, for the crack-like high ofnational affairs dropped from 35 percent of all pages to 25 percent.their “15 minutes of fame,” as artistAndy Warhol famously put it.Moreover, some researchers arguePercentage of Pages by Topicthat as the media dishes out anPercentageincreasingly rich diet of celebrity353535hype, less and less attention is paid to3031informing citizens about government3029and the world around them —25252323undercutting a cornerstone of a dem20ocratic society. Many trace the new15emphasis on celebrities to the massive consolidation of the mass media1010888industry, which began in the 1990s75544when newspapers faced layoffs and0drops in circulation and profits. Media19801985199019952000200120022003companies were gobbled up by megacorporations with a greater commitNational AffairsEntertainment/Celebrityment to stockholder proftis than tomaintaining large, traditionally moneySources: Time, Newsweek and Hall’s Reportslosing news departments.chronicle every breakup by Ben [Affleck] and JenIn many cases, newspapers and broadcast stations[Garner], every Britney marriage, every birth to a remotely owned by family dynasties — with traditionally strongfamous B actress.”commitments to the local community and relatively lowFascination with celebrity has been fueled by an profits — were replaced by huge corporations demandexplosion in the number of Internet sites and cable tele- ing that news departments produce double-digit profits.vision channels, including 24-hour news shows. As the As a result, government and foreign news coverage wasnumber of shows and Web sites increased, so did com- slashed and often replaced by cheaper-to-produce celebpetition for audiences and ad dollars. In turn, that raised rity gossip, media critics say.the demand for more cheap content, such as the latestThe squeeze on news departments became even morecelebrity gossip, to fill the burgeoning amounts of broad- intense when online news outlets began to produce evencast airtime.more competition for viewers’ attention.1“Television, more than any other cultural developYet, as media organizations scale back coverage ofment, has radically changed our experience of celebrity,” government and world events — even the wars in Iraqsays David Blake, a professor of English at the College of and Afghanistan — there seems no shortage of resourcesNew Jersey, in Ewing. “Television has made celebrities available for celebrity doings. Celebrity “news” magazineboth prevalent and ubiquitous, and with the rise of tele- shows have sprouted like mushrooms after a rainstorm.vision came a whole new branch of the public relations One even devotes a half-hour each day to celebrities’industry. Public relations once focused on preparing legal problems. Indeed, even as the small army of jouraccomplished individuals for the interest and scrutiny nalists camps outside the courthouse in California wherethat had come to them. Now it involves manufacturing Michael Jackson is being tried, ABC is debating replaccelebrities to meet the culture’s seemingly insatiable ing Ted Koppel’s celebrated news show, “Nightline,”desire for them.”with more celebrity fluff.Celebrity Coverage Doubled in News MagazinesNot to be sold, copied, or redistributed. Property of SAGE.

C e l e b r i t y C u lt u r e3Part of modern celebrity is theCelebrities Dominate Magazine Coversmoney showered upon true stars. In theeyes of many, Alex Rodriguez, the NewEntertainers and other celebrities appeared on the covers of nearly40 percent of all American magazines in 2004. The next largestYork Yankees’ third baseman, took oncategory, culture and travel, came in at almost 10 percent, whilethe aura of a Donald Trump when heonly 6 percent of covers were related to national affairs.signed a 10-year, 252 million contractin 2001. Some movie stars make thatby working in a few films.But the fascination with celebritiesand their stratospheric earnings hasOthertaken its toll. More American teenagSports and19.0%ers can name the Three Stooges thanrecreationthe three branches of government;Entertainment/4.8%Celebritymore kids know who won the “Battleof the Network Stars” than the CivilCulture and39.6%War, says comedian and pop-culture9.6%travelcommentator Mo Rocca.Celebrity culture is having othernegative impacts on society. According5.9%to British researcher Satoshi Kanazawa,National7.8%5.9%of The London School of Economicsaffairs7.6%and Science, children’s mental healthHomesuffers the more they believe that hapfurnishingsBusiness andpiness comes from money, fame andFood andindustrybeauty. He found that the humannutritionbrain was not designed to handle theNote: Percentages do not add to 100 due to rounding.constant bombardment of celebritySource: Hall’s Reportsbased stimuli and that we are losingtouch with our friends and family as aresult. Meanwhile, a study conducted in the United States even more aggressively as entertainment in order to getshows that we are all just a few stressors short of becoming attention,” Kaplan continues. “ ‘Journalism’ will becomecelebrity stalkers.2 And more and more Americans are seek- an even more important profit center for entertainmenting plastic surgery, the direct result of people either want- conglomerates.”As the amount of news decreases, citizens’ ability toing to look like celebrities or feeling pressured to lookyounger and better because of the very high beauty bar set stay informed — and thus participate responsibly inby celebrities, says New York plastic surgeon Z. Paul democracy — also will diminish, says David T.Z. Mindich,an associate professor of journalism and mass communicaLorenc.The outlook for our celebrity-saturated culture, say tion at Saint Michael’s College, in Colchester, Vt.As pundits, social scientists and media watchdogmany media watchers and social scientists, is bleak. “It’salready all-Paris-Hilton-all-the-time, or nearly so,” says groups examine the celebrity culture phenomenon, hereMarty Kaplan, dean of the Annenberg School for are some of the questions they are debating:Communications at the University of SouthernCalifornia, “so you don’t have to extrapolate that pathol- Is America’s fascination withcelebrity bad for society?ogy very much to see the future.“News coverage will continue to shrink; traditional Every day, from living-room TVs to supermarket checkhard news (like politics) will package and present itself out counters, the mass media bombard Americans withNot to be sold, copied, or redistributed. Property of SAGE.

AFP Photo/Robyn Beck4   S o c i a l S t r u c t u r e , P r o c e ss e s , a n d C o n t r o lPop star Michael Jackson arrives at his child-molestation trial inSanta Maria, Calif., being covered by hundreds of mediarepresentatives. An explosion in cable television outlets competingfor audiences and ad dollars has helped fuel the demand forcelebrity news, which is a relatively inexpensive way to fill airtime.images of celebrities and their rarified lives. But expertshave differing opinions on whether it is a good or a badthing for Americans to be inundated with news aboutthe rich and famous — not only accounts of their privileged lives but also their battles with weight loss, criminal charges, sexual dalliances, drug abuse, brokenmarriages and problem children.Perhaps the most obvious downside of celebrity culture is how it has changed whom Americans idolize, saysAl Tompkins, group leader for broadcast and onlinejournalism at the Poynter Institute, in St. Petersburg,Fla.* “Celebrity has taken the place of heroes,” he says.“When I ask college and high school students who theirheroes are, they usually name celebrities, such as athletesor movie stars, not names that did something heroic ornoteworthy.”But Lorenc worries about the danger posed by theimpact on people’s self-image. “There is tremendousdanger” in unchecked celebrity worship, Lorenc says. “Aperfect example, is ‘I Want A Famous Face’ — the MTVtelevision show in which patients come into a doctor’soffice and say, ‘I want to look like Britney Spears,’ or ‘Iwant to look like so and so.’“That shouldn’t happen,” insists Lorenc, author of ALittle Work: Behind the Doors of a Park Avenue PlasticSurgeon. “No one should aspire to look like someoneelse. If I have a patient with a photograph who says, ‘Iwant to look like that,’ they don’t need me, they need atherapy session. It’s very unhealthy to perpetuate that. Iwon’t operate on them.”The danger, he says, is not just that people want tolook like specific celebrities but that it perpetuates a worship of youthfulness, and increasingly, Americans areturning to plastic surgery to capture the youth and glamour associated with celebrities. According to theAmerican Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the number of plastic surgery procedures performed in Americaincreased fourfold from 1997 to 2003 — from slightlymore than 2 million to more than 8 million.3“Even celebrities are in a bind,” Lorenc says. “They havean image they have to upkeep and are forced to do that withBotox [a botulism neurotoxin injected to eliminate wrinkles]. They have to maintain an image and a lifestyle and anincome. Do they influence people? Of course. Patients wantto look younger, feel better about themselves.”The youth culture even influences the power elite, hesays. “A lot of men from Wall Street say, ‘I am competing against men half my age, who are working for a quarter of my price.’ We are a youth-oriented culture.”Psychologist James Houran, of Irving, Texas, sayscelebrity worship is more than skin deep. It is a “gatewaydrug toward stalking,” he cautions.Houran is the co-creator of the Celebrity WorshipScale, which measures an individual’s level of interest in* The nonprofit Poynter Institute owns Congressional Quarterly Inc.,the parent company of CQ Press, publisher of the CQ Researcher.Not to be sold, copied, or redistributed. Property of SAGE.

C e l e b r i t y C u lt u r ecelebrities. “Celebrity worship starts off with normal,healthy behavior,” he says. “But it can be transformedinto more dysfunctional expressions,” where people feela connection to a celebrity that does not exist.Houran, along with other British and U.S. researchers, found that one-third of Americans suffer from someform of “celebrity worship syndrome” in a study published in February 2002. In its most innocuous form, thecondition manifests itself as a sense of emptiness, but thestudy found it can progress to obsessive thinking and, inrare cases, worsen into behavior — like stalking — thatis driven by delusions.4Houran recalls a teenage girl who began injuring herselfafter learning that punk singer Marilyn Manson, her favoritecelebrity, was getting married. “She cut her arms, neck andlegs. She was rushed to the hospital. She wanted to be theone to change him. When she was discharged, she realizedwhat she did was extreme. But she still rationalized herobsession, saying, ‘I just want him to be happy. If he ishappy, I am happy. He is the only person I connect with.’ ”Everyone, says Houran, is susceptible. “You don’t haveto be a stalker to have this [affect] your life, negatively andintensely. Those extreme celebrity worshippers don’t startoff that way, but the bad news is that it implies there is astalker in all of us, given the right set of variables.”But not all studies have shown that celebrity worshiphas a decidedly negative impact. In a study published inMarch 2004, a group of British researchers found thatgossiping about celebrities took up most of the socialtime of nearly one-third of a sample of 191 Englishyoungsters ages 11 to 16. But these young people werefar from being isolated; in fact, researchers found thegossiping children had a stronger network of close friendsthan their peers who were less interested in celebrities.5The Harvard-educated Rocca, who appears frequentlyon CNN’s “American Morning,” believes saturationcelebrity coverage has had an inoculating effect on society, particularly young people, and has made college students, in particular, extremely media savvy.“There is an overwhelming appetite for celebrity andpop culture news across the board in America right nowand on campus in particular,” Rocca says. “But I have astrange faith in college students. They are both moreoptimistic and skeptical than everyone else.“It sounds like a strange contradiction, but they consume all this celebrity news with tongue planted firmly5in cheek, I think,” Rocca continues. “Nobody is wideeyed any longer when it comes to celebrity news. WhenI see college students devouring Us Weekly, they know itis all a joke. There is a hunger for something else. WhenI go to campuses and talk about my interest in presidential history, while a lot of students may not know much,they are hungry for something more substantive than thelatest news on the Olsen twins.”Growing up in a celebrity-saturated culture helpsturn college students today into experts on how themedia work, Rocca says. “I am constantly amazed at howmuch the average student knows about what goes intomaking a TV show. Everyone has deconstructed themedia, understands the ingredients and understandshow the artifice is created. Essentially, students know itis all BS — the work of celebrity publicists and storiesthey are fed. The students revel in the cheesiness of it.”Conversely, Rocca believes that people who did notgrow up with constant celebrity news are more apt totake celebrity news at face value. “I am betting olderpeople were more engrossed by the Laci Peterson [murder] story,” he says. “That was essentially tabloid trash. Ithad no relevance to people’s lives. College kids . . . candraw a distinction between legitimate news, say the tsunami or Iraq, and soap operas that masquerade as news,like the Laci Peterson story.”Moreover, says Dan Kennedy, media critic at theBoston Phoenix, some heavily played celebrity stories canhelp make this a better country. “The coverage of theO. J. Simpson murder trial actually helped foster anational conversation about race and celebrity that otherwise would not have taken place, totally apart from thefact that he got away with murder,” Kennedy says.In fact, Kennedy thinks that today’s media consumers are more sophisticated than in the past, and thus lessobsessed with celebrity. “Large segments of society havealways lived vicariously through celebrities,” Kennedyobserves. “It’s not healthy, but it’s ever been thus. In the1860s, the wedding of Charles Stratton and LaviniaWarren — better known as General and Mrs. TomThumb — was one of the great media spectacles of theage, with the couple even dropping by the White Housefor a heavily publicized visit with the Lincolns.“And I’m not sure that anything we’ve seen todayexceeds the bizarre devotion to Rudolph Valentino inthe 1920s,” he continues. “For that matter, the mediaNot to be sold, copied, or redistributed. Property of SAGE.

6   S o c i a l S t r u c t u r e , P r o c e ss e s , a n d C o n t r o lReality TV Rarely Leads to Lasting FameReality TV shows have introduced the viewing public to instant celebrities like “The Bachelorette”lovebirds Trista and Ryan, “The Apprentice” villain Omarosa and “Survivor” schemer Richard Hatch.The unscripted programs have given all-too-fleetingfame to thousands of average Janes and Joes who helpedprovide casting directors with the many stereotypes thatmake up reality television, including the hypersensitiveminority, the big-city neophyte, the sex siren.“The vast majority of people on reality TV believe thatit is not only going to bring a bachelor that they can marryor 1 million for surviving life on an island, but also that it’sthe beginning of a career that will make them celebrities,”says Robert Thompson, founding director of the Center forPopular Television at Syracuse University.But most reality alums soon learn that their celebrity hasa short shelf life — six months for most, Thompson says.“Now that we’ve had years to map this out — five sincethe first ‘Survivor’ in the summer of 2000 and 13 since thefirst ‘Real World’ aired in 1992 — the votes are in,”Thompson says, “and the chances of making a long careerin show business from a reality show are very, very small.”But there are a few exceptions. “Survivor” alumnaElizabeth Hasselbeck is now one of five hosts of “TheView.” And London “Real World” alum Jacinda Barrettrecently had substantial roles in the films “Ladder 49” and“Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.”today may be less celebrity-obsessed than that of 100years ago — at least in terms of the [print] press.”Does the media’s attention to celebrities lead topoor coverage of more important issues?The performance of the American media in covering therun-up to the war in Iraq has come in for scathing criticism from press critics — and the press itself. Manymedia critics, including New York Press columnist MattTaibbi, castigated the so-called mainstream media forfailing to adequately challenge the Bush administration’srationale for going to war.6And an editorial in The New York Times acknowledged that mistakes in the Times’ coverage were made.“The world little noted, but at some point late last year“American Idol” stars Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken alsohave found mainstream stardom, but that is largely because‘American Idol’ is really a talent show, Thompson says.But for every success story, there are hundreds of castmembers who have tried and failed to extend their 15 minutes of fame.“It’s a letdown 99 percent of the time for most people,”said Brian Brady, a talent booker for the casts of “Survivor,”“The Apprentice” and other reality shows.1“I get 10 calls a day from cast members trying to getsome kind of work,” Brady says. “You can hear it in theirvoices; they’re desperate. They’re trying to milk their showfor anything.”Jamie Murray was 22 when he appeared as one of theroommates on the ninth season of the “Real World” in NewOrleans. Now 27, Murray has spent much of the last fiveyears using his reality experience to book college appearances,which pay about 2,000 each. He has also appeared on twoMTV “Challenges,” which bring back cast members frompast seasons of “Real World” and “Road Rules” to compete inevents like raft building and bungee jumping for plastic rings.With a little luck, he says, he won both challenges, earning 80,000 and two cars.Murray says that was the only compensation he’s receivedfrom his celebrity. “My financial situation has been less thanstellar during the last few years because I’ve been living offthe scraps of the ‘Real World,’ ” Murray says. “All my highthe American search for weapons of mass destruction inIraq ended,” the Times commented. “We will, however,long remember the doomsday warnings from the Bushadministration about mushroom clouds and sinister aluminum tubes; the breathless reports from TV correspondents when the invasion began, speculating on when the‘smoking gun’ would be unearthed; our own failures todeconstruct all the spin and faulty intelligence.”7There are many reasons, critics argue, why the U.S.media have failed to pay more attention to world events oreven to cover important events closer to home. It is “mucheasier to land ‘event’-oriented coverage (such as spot news,crime news, announcements or events that occur, scheduled and unscheduled,” argues Tompkins, of the PoynterInstitute.Not to be sold, copied, or redistributed. Property of SAGE.

C e l e b r i t y C u lt u r e7Getty Images/Frank Micelottaschool and college friendsbe a big star, but she’s notare doing big-time, corpoa great singer or a greatrate jobs, and I’m stillactress. She isn’t a greatmaking money off appearanything that makes youing at some bar night ina celebrity,” ThompsonAustin, Texas.”says.But someone is gettingEven for those whorich off Jamie’s MTVare great at something,appearances. “Viacom hasreality TV is no guaranteea multimillion-dollar synof success. It can evendication deal for ‘Realhurt wannabe stars byWorld,’ and not a dimetypecasting them andwas thrown down to theshowing them in a negapeople on the show,”tive light, Brady says. “AMTV’s “Real World” is considered the first modern reality TVMurray explains. “Welot of these people end upprogram. Launched in 1992, it follows the lives of seven youngsigned our rights away.”bartending and waitressstrangers living in a house together. Above, the show’s Paris castIt’s harsh, Thompson visits New York City.ing, and, hopefully, they’resays, but potential castcounting up nice tipsmembers know that if they don’t sign, there are thousands of because the patrons of the restaurant or bar recognizeothers willing to do so.them,” he says.Jon Murray, a co-creator of “Real World,” understandsBut without the talent to keep them in the limelight,that it’s difficult for his cast members to have empty pock- most reality stars quickly slide into obscurity, Thompsonets when they are recognized on the street. “It’s hard for says. “It’s celebrity built on the foundation of sand, and itany of us who haven’t . . . gone on a reality show, to under- blows away.”stand what it’s like to be famous for being yourself, but not— Kate Templinnecessarily having a lot of money that goes with fame,”Murray said.2Unfortunately for most reality show stars, they rarely 1 www.concertideas.com.have skills that can take them beyond reality TV, Thompson 2Kate Aurthur, “Reality Stars Keep on Going and Going,” The Newsays. “Jerri Manthey from the first ‘Survivor’ would love to York Times, Oct. 10, 2004, p. B22.Taibbi is less charitable. “In the run-up to the war,” hewrites, “every major daily and television network in thecountry parroted the White House’s asinine WMD claimsfor months on end . . . “Justice would seem to demand thata roughly equivalent amount of coverage be given to thetruth, now that we know it (and we can officially call itthe truth now, because even Bush admits it; previously thetruth was just a gigantic, unendorsed pile of plainly obviousevidence). But that isn’t the way things work in America.“We only cover things around the clock every day forfour or five straight months when it’s fun,” and “fun”boils down to covering celebrities at the expense of allelse, Taibbi argues.8On the other hand, the Annenberg School’s Kaplanblames the shrinking “news hole,” or the amount ofspace devoted to hard-news coverage. For example, thepercentage of pages in news magazines dedicated tocelebrities and entertainment doubled from 1980 to2003, while coverage of national affairs dropped from 35percent of all pages to 25 percent. (See graph, p. 2.)“The smaller the hole for hard news, the less likely thatpeople will find out what they need to know about theircommunities, their country and their world,” Kaplan says.“Celebrity news attracts eyeballs. We can’t help it. Fame ismesmerizing. The challenge for responsible media is tomake the [more] important [stories] interesting.”Competing with celebrity news is a tall order, saysThe Washington Post’s Kurtz. Celebrity news is “cheapand easy to cover, easier, say, than unraveling the president’s budget cuts or Social Security proposal,” KurtzNot to be sold, copied, or redistributed. Property of SAGE.

8   S o c i a l S t r u c t u r e , P r o c e ss e s , a n d C o n t r o lthat anything resembling hard newsjournalism is coming to an end,”McCafferty says. “But I don’t believe itA test developed by a group of American and British psychologistsranks interest in celebrities from harmless escapism to obsessivefor a minute. The last time I checked,thinking that — in rare cases — may lead to delusion-drivenUSA Today and The Washington Postbehavior like stalking.and The Wall Street Journal and theother usual suspects are still doingAnswer yes or no to the following statements:some pretty darn good hard-news stoYes Nories. And my local Fairfax Journal is1. I often feel compelled to learn the personal habits of mystill staying on top of how local politifavorite celebrity.cos are spending my tax dollars.2. I love to talk with others who admire my favorite celebrity.“I also notice that USA Today’s3. When something happens to my favorite celebrity, I feel“Life” section — that’s supposed tolike it happened to me.be the fluffy one — devotes as many4. I enjoy watching, reading or listening to my favoritepages to health, science and othercelebrity because it means a good time.related topics as it does to Hollywood.5. I have pictures and/or souvenirs of my favorite celebrity,The “Style” section [of The Post ] stillwhich I always keep in exactly the same place.devotes 80-inch features to newsmak6. When my favorite celebrity dies, I will feel like dying, too.ers, as opposed to star machinery.”While there has been a tremendousCelebrity Attitude Scaleincrease in time and space devoted tocelebrity coverage, McCafferty says,If you answered “Yes” to:the advent of cable and the InternetNos. 2 and 4 — Your celebrity attitudes are on the Entertainmentmeans that there is a huge appetiteSocial level; they are undisruptive and focused on the entertainmentfor all kinds of content — includingabilities of celebrities.hard news.Nos. 1 and 5 — Your celebrity attitudes are on Intense-Personal“Has there been a huge increaselevel; attitudes about celebrity are more intimate and obsessive andin celebrity-devoted magazines, cablecan have a negative effect on mood and behavior.shows and the like? Of course,” saysNos. 3 and 6 — Your celebrity attitudes are on the BorderlineMcCafferty. “There’s also been a hugePathological level; attitudes and behaviors are dangerous,increase in business magazines andtroublesome and anti-social.24/7 financial cable shows. There arecountless niches within the businessSource: Lynn McCutcheon, et al., “Conceptualization and Measurement ofmagazine industry. If you want to readCelebrity Worship,” British Journal of Psychology, Feb. 1, 2002about small business, you have a choiceof several competing titles.says. “It’s the O. J. syndrome as a permanent feature of“The same with mutual funds, personal finance, venour journalistic culture. Martha Stewart, convicted felon, ture capitalists, CEOs, and, for all I know, administrais about to get a television show. Need I say more?”tive assistants and the guys who change purified waterBut Dennis McCafferty, who covers celebrities as jugs in the office everyday.senior writer for USA Today Weekend, says our fascina“The same massive increase in ongoing coverage istion with celebrities does not mean the death of hard also reflected in what’s available when it comes to sports,news.health, parenting, community, religion and every singleIs journalism in trouble? McCafferty asks. “I’m sure a other subject that affects our lives. Celebrity news isresponse of ‘Yes! Mercy yes!’ would come from the sancti- hardly crowding that out. There’s simply more of allmonious types who incessantly write letters saying kinds of news, period, and that includes hard news.”Are You Celebrity Obsessed?Not to be sold, copied, or redistributed. Property of SAGE.

C e l e b r i t y C u lt u r e9Weekly magazines like People, Us Weekly, In Touch and Star reel in readers with gossip, interviews and paparazzi photographs of theirfavorite celebrities. Jennifer Lopez was the most featured celeb in 2004, appearing on 29 covers published by the four magazines.Jennifer Aniston, alone or with estranged husband Brad Pitt, came in second with 26 covers. The February 2005 Aniston-Pitt breakupsparked a celebrity magazine feeding frenzy, with Us Weekly featuring the couple on its cover for five consecutive weeks, the longest fora single new

ing that news departments produce double-digit profits. As a result, government and foreign news coverage was slashed and often replaced by cheaper-to-produce celeb-rity gossip, media critics say. The squeeze on news departments became even more intense when online news outlets began to produce even . more competition for viewers' attention. 1

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