Saturday, December 13, 2008

If Beyonce's Stylist Died in the Forest and No One Heard...

This past week, two relatives of celebrities met their demise: Mark Ruffalo’s brother in an apparent Russian roulette accident in an apparent homicide and Macaulay Culkin’s sister in a car accident. Both of these events appeared in the breaking news headlines on websites and news channels, and will soon be buried by newer occasions of sensational celebrity news.

I would understand if Ruffalo or Culkin themselves died, but their siblings were hardly public figures. Is being related to a famous person really enough to qualify for headline-news status? And if so, where does it end? First cousin? Second cousin? Second cousin thrice removed? The line is blurry, and, more to the point, silly to try to determine. People like Scott Ruffalo and Dakota Culkin deserve an obituary like anyone else, but not 20% of the headline space on the Yahoo home page. Their passings are private matters, and should not be covered this intensely unless they actually affect the public in some way.

Interestingly, the online Times of London article about Culkin’s sister devoted the majority its words to a brief history of Culkin’s career and life. Clearly the paparazzi hardly even care about her sister; her death is only an excuse for a filler item about her brother, the troubled child star.

I’m not the first person to criticize the 24-hour news machine, and I won’t be the last. But I feel strongly that our journalists should do a better job of censoring the information they feel is newsworthy, and concentrate more on topics of actual importance to the society they serve.

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