mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

If everyone hates celebrity coverage, why is there so much of it...

A recent study (via OpinionJournal says that 87% of Americans think that celebrity scandals get too much coverage relative to real news. 8% think it's just right, 2% want more drunken Paris and Lohan.

So if Americans don't care about celebrity news, why is there so much coverage of it? I'm a big believer in efficient markets. In theory, if there is too much celebrity news, customers should be responding by picking news sources that downplay it, and news sources could get increased business by covering Hillary instead of Hilton. But they don't. So why the market failure - why is there a suboptimal (or should I say superoptimal) amount of celebrity coverage?

A few theories:

- People really like celebrity coverage, but don't want to admit it to the people who conduct surveys. After all, who wants to admit that they care more about Lohan than the war in Iraq, even if they do? News sources know this and deliver the amount of celebrity coverage that people really want, not the amount they claim they want.

- People don't care about celebrity gossip, but feel they need to keep up with it because other people care. They don't want to be the one person at the water cooler who has no clue what their coworkers are talking about when celebrity gossip comes up. So they follow celebrity gossip, and news sources deliver for this group.

- Maybe news reports just prefer covering celebrity scandals. They are easy for reporters to understand, unlike, say, the latest supreme court decision. And TV news reports are probably interested in celebrity, because they want to be celebrities.

- on a similar note, much of the coverage is TV, and TV is very visual. TV stations want people who are flipping through channels to stop, and covering celebrity news gives them an excuse to show pictures of celebrities, who are generally more photogenic than politicians. If you are idly flipping through channels and are a dude, you are more likely to stop on a news station that's showing a pic of Paris looking fetching in her prison orange jumpsuit than of Hillary looking angry in her black pantsuit.

- Maybe the 10% of people who find coverage to be adequate or lacking are all members of a really desirable demographic. TV stations want the ad dollars that the advertisers bring for those people, so their tailor news to them and screw the other 90%. This isn't all that far-fetched - starstruck people are probably the easily-impressionable people who buy lots of crap.

Or maybe I'm overthinking this. Thoughts?


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