Posted by: mbtrotter | December 23, 2010

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.


Did you know some people get into journalism only to become famous? Surprise! (There are also people ready to make a buck — or 30 — off those who want to be famous journalists.) Journalists can become famous in the course of doing their jobs, especially by breaking big stories or if they’re on TV and constantly exposed to the public.

The tendency for journalists to be elevated to celebrity status is probably bad for the profession more than it’s good for it, and it’s led to a culture of constant attempts at one-upsmanship.

The latest episode of How I Met Your Mother takes a guess at how far some journalists might go at building their personal brand at the expense of their credibility.

Being on an inane game show is pretty bad (isn’t it, Natalie Morales?), but depending on who you ask, there have been worse publicity stunts pulled in the name of attention-grabbing.

In June, AP’s Rich Matthews went scuba diving in the Gulf of Mexico to show the extent of the BP oil spill damage — sans protective gear. He got a good story out of it, but he may have risked his health for it. Was it really worth it? Was it necessary, or was it done simply for the “look at me” value?

More recently, there’s been WikiLeaks. While the website and Julian Assange seem to have plenty of support, there are those who label it a “cheap publicity stunt.”

Many factors contributed to the current news culture, and since it’s here to stay, presumably so is the practice of one-upsmanship we’ve been seeing. Journalists will learn which attention-grabbing practices add to their stories and which are just publicity stunts through trial and error, but their audience may end up seeing a lot of dumb stuff before that process is over.

All video in this post is the copyrighted material of 20th Century Fox Television and was purchased by the author for not-for-profit use.

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