He was always going to be endangered once Zuckerberg millennium came upon us –the entertainment journalist. We all follow our favourite icons on Twitter and Instagram, and since their tweets and photos are what mostly constitute “entertainment news” these days, what would be his role, now that he alone does not have the key to latest information?
Don’t get me wrong, the art of creating news stories from tweets and Instagram posts is an innovation in itself, and requires remarkable creativity…and even now, for some, internet is available once a week, and six-line stories are how they keep abreast of news. But the thing about the internet is that it transitions from one phase to another so swiftly, innovation becomes cliché in days. That’s why the journalist, the entertainment journalist, may, this very second, be scratching his head; because he is being confronted by the possibility that all that money on journalism school was for nothing…that his talent isn’t special after all, and all these principles he holds dear (regarding journalism) are not a big deal in the end.
Journalism is hardest to practice now, because everyone can pass for a journalist today…they just have to speak English and know someone. Often, not being proficient in English is not even a big deal. Everybody belongs to the Fourth Estate, because we all can take pictures of accidents and broadcast them on social media.
The blogger makes things worse, because of his growing reach and legitimacy. He’s actually becoming a reference point. I’m not talking about the Ameyaw Debrah kind of blogger; the Ameyaw Debrah kind of blogger has paid his dues. I’m referring to the young man, barely out of teen years and overcome by lustful ambition to be popular as soon as is possible with social media. He has a computer and internet access, and belongs to multiple groups on Whatsapp and Facebook. He knows nothing about the ethics of truth and objectivity. He has never heard the line “check, double-check and check again”. Grammar is not his focus, so he spells “theatrics” as “fiatrics”. The place of the comma, the apostrophe (when it must come before or after the s ), is not his focus. He just has to be the one to break the news of the sextape, or repost the photo of the accident victim, whether it’s ethical or not. He’s heard plagiarism, but he has not looked it up (he never looks up a word in the dictionary). He has an idea what it is, but knows not the implications of claiming another’s words as his…so he does it with fantastic impunity. Luckily for him, he’s bunched up with a legitimate journalist, so he gets perks.
By all means, blogging is not bad. Anything which gives power back to the people is good. Indeed, it is taught in journalism school today. It nurtures creativity and independence, and maneuvered properly, it can be profitable. There are many of them laying about, and it’s inspiring.
Journalism, in many ways, is talent –the gift of telling stories. Like any other talent, it comes from an inner passion. Some of the best singers have not been to any music class. Some of the best footballers were discovered playing “four corners”. So it makes sense to argue that on-the-job training does just as much as journalism school. It is important therefore, that he, the young blogger, barely out of teen years and overcome by lustful ambition to be popular as soon as is possible with social media, is willing to learn –to spell right, write an objective lead and source properly.
At the same time though, we can’t blame the blogger for taking the place of the entertainment journalist. Standards have fallen because few insist on them. When you scale your own wall, you’re showing a thief the way.
So, what is the place of the entertainment journalist, now that we all know what waist bead an actress wore to the mall or what new brand of shoes an athlete wore to work out, or what Amanda posted on her Instagram timeline?
People say that journalism and social media should be able to co-exist, but gradually, the entertainment journalist is becoming good for nothing, well unless…
Thankfully, journalism goes beyond finding news and reporting it first. An aspect of journalism which might come as a surprise to many is the fact that he, the journalist, also has to explain the news…and explaining the news is where we are headed, in my opinion. The feature, the detailed essay, is where the entertainment journalist might restore relevance and dignity. It is what we should have been doing all along.
Like I’ve tried to establish, the journalist, the entertainment journalist, doesn’t have exclusive access to news as soon as it happens anymore, because we all follow Beyoncé. But we have to report too, what led to that Twitter rant, in a way that is organic and interesting. The research has to happen…real investigation must take place. One or two calls must be made, so we confirm the backstory. Most of all, a superior creativity is required to make all this pleasant to read. People will read as long as it’s well-written.
A seriousness is required, even in entertainment journalism –improved grammar, higher ethical considerations, an overall skill. Surely, we are better than six lines and poor grammar.
Dangerously too little is documented, in the entertainment aspect of our journalism. The quality of much of what has been documented, leaves too much to be desired …save for a couple,who still embody what entertainment journalism must be. These gems, who shall remain unnamed, show, from the way they go about their duties, that entertainment journalism is serious business –that there’s more to this side of journalism –there’s culture, there’s art, there’s extensive writing…there’s more!
It is the likes of these we must aspire to reach, and their methods, our duty to make ours.
Follow the writer @myershansen on Twitter.