Kim Kardashian 1: No news would be good news
In the past week over 400 people have died in floods in Thailand, three Australian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan and the European economy teetered on the verge of collapse. But most devastating of all was the news that Kim Kardashian’s marriage was in disarray after just 72 days.
Australia’s commercial networks and newspapers almost fell into the trap of misreading the break-up as a pointless, inane, staged piece of nonsense, but then came to their senses and ran blanket coverage of the story for three days.
Things could’ve got much, much worse though. There was the chance the vacuous, money-hungry, talentless reality TV star could have pulled out of her promotional tour to Australia, opening up the possibility that some media outlets would have to resort to reporting serious news.
Thank goodness she got her priorities right and made the trip Down Under. (Of course there’s no better way to get over a painful marriage break-up than in the privacy of your own handbag promotional event at Westfield Miranda).
We know we’re scraping the bottom of the news media barrel when the break up of an arranged-for-reality-TV marriage is not just regarded as news, but a bulletin-leading, front page bombshell.
Reporting on a cat getting stuck down the back of a couch or a baby guinea pig being born at Tooranga Zoo might not be the apex of serious journalism. But at least events such as these have some foundation in reality - they occur independently of the media machine reporting them.
Not so this Kim Kardashian saga - the almost-certainly scripted product of a TV show. Why not report the saucy affairs and painful breakups that take place on Neighbours during the six o’clock news?
Or why not include the surfing conditions at Summer Bay as part of the weather report? How about an expose of the murder investigation taking place on the latest episode of Criminal Minds on Today Tonight? Or better yet, why not run a full three-minute story on the contestants of Celebrity Apprentice on your current affairs program and pass if off as news?
Oh, hang on, that’s exactly what Channel 9 did a few weeks ago.
There’s a place for awful, meaningless television shows – they keep us off the streets and give us something to talk about at those water coolers that apparently exist in every workplace. They might even teach us how to cook dinner or build a house. But they’re not news.
What passes as news has, of course, been on a downward spiral for some time. When ACA switched from grilling the PM of the day to chasing down the Landlord from Hell™ we all lost a small piece of our IQ. And by the time Channel 9 started reporting from helicopters in parking lots, serious journalism - at commercial TV stations at least – was but a distant memory.
But this new fashion for reporting TV programming as news is surely a new low.
News doesn’t have to be highbrow, but it needs to be real. Otherwise we’ll end up in some kind of fantasy land where the world’s biggest problems are not how to reduce poverty or feed the world, but how to find farmer a wife; and where the only conflicts we are aware of are the ones taking place in the MasterChef kitchen.
We might even come to actually believe that Pauline Hanson is a likeable, misunderstood reality TV star and not a racist, xenophobic twat. And when Kim Kardashian and her hubby go into marriage counselling to get things back on track in a few week’s time, we might just give a shit. And that would be a tragedy.
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