Posted by: mbtrotter | February 17, 2011

Yep, those are entertainment journalists, all right.

Although some profess their hatred for it, (Really, Gawker hating on “TMZ”?), people love their gossip entertainment journalism — “TMZ” was renewed until 2014 last month.

Cop drama “Southland” pretty much nailed the entertainment journalist type last week in an episode about an actor under suspicion of murdering his pop star wife, starting with their tendency to stake out celebrities’ homes and hang around all day.

That’s one of the best journalist mobs I’ve seen on TV. Besides that, the writers pinned down the sneaky, paparazzo-type who tries to get past police for photos without so much as a media credential.

Despite police efforts to keep entertainment journalists at bay, even to the extreme, somehow the information gets out. There’s a leak somewhere, probably motivated by money. In real life, it got “TMZ” Brittany Murphy’s autopsy report that could only have come from the coroner’s office. In “Southland,” photos of the murder scene that could only have come from police cameras get out.

That’s part of the reason people despise entertainment journalists more than regular ones. The invasion of privacy, the actions people consider “sneaky” to get information, happen more frequently. Journalists in particular can’t stand their celebrity-focused counterparts, worrying celebrity journalism will “crowd out” legitimate news. Worries about celebrity journalists being put in charge of actual journalism led a U.K. filmmaker to create a documentary about his pranks on tabloids.

Although entertainment journalists’ or their products’ reputations aren’t so great, there are those who see value in it. An academic paper co-authored by professors from the University of Missouri and the University of Tennessee found people are more likely to change health behaviors after seeing health news focused on a celebrity.

In the show, detectives rely upon sensational tabloid and television reports to advance their investigation.

Even while going to entertainment journalism for information, the detectives talk about how disgusted they are by it. Detective Lydia Adams notes that tabloids pay for information (sounds familiar) and jokingly asks her partner to hit one of the many photographers.

Entertainment journalism is a mixed bag, and “Southland” writers did a good job of showing the love-hate relationship many have with it. People say they hate it because it pays for information and tells sensational stories, but it has a large audience. Journalists say they hate it, but it can have benefits. Police are annoyed by its practitioners, but they’re not above using them for information.

All video in this post is the copyrighted material of Warner Bros. Television and was purchased by the author for not-for-profit use.


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