America, we have a problem. We are inflating a dangerous cultural trend of celebrity worship by allowing the media to parade tabloid-worthy information as mainstream news. This is not cool. Take the latest tabloid incident that swept the mainstream news cycle: George Zimmerman's divorce. The American media needs to get back to reporting issues that matter and leave the gossip where it belongs, which is at coffee tables, around water coolers, and inside the pages of Americans' guilty pleasure: tabloid magazines.
It was journalists' job to follow George Zimmerman during his murder trial since the verdict had potential to incite a thoughtful dialogue about the social fabric of American society. His divorce, however, is not news. Every human who becomes the centerpiece of a national controversy is not worth remaining in the spotlight once the controversy is over. Gaining fame because of a criminal case is one thing, but an ensuring media circus surrounding every aspect of that person's life is the tactic of a tabloid. Legitimate news agencies need a reality check: stop it.
The media's obsession with tabloid headlines and trash content is likely a result of a demanding 24-hour news cycle for content that sells. News should be about information that the public can use to forward an agenda, but there must be a defined line between reliable journalism and everything else. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguishing between journalism and social commentary courtesy of sites that include bloggers and pundits rather than traditional news reporters. Traditional reporting has morphed in order to sell flashy, sensational information without provoking readers to think past the quantity of words on a page.
While the media exposes the public to lots of information, producing responsible, thought-provoking pieces remains an art form. Instead of writing about someone's unnewsworthy divorce, journalistic efforts must be geared towards publishing substantive stories aimed at worthy causes, like garnering support for sending humanitarian aid to people in Syria, and developing the dialogue about ways to end the crisis plaguing our our education system. It seems like more and more stories that matter are pushed to the periphery as media fat cats profit off slack journalism.
Where do we go from here? Bloggers and citizen journalists must fill the void news has left by generating substantive pieces. Americans don't want their news to become a reality show.