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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Shame on the news industry. You've been very naughty, and I'm sending you to your room without any new celebrity drunken-driving stories, outrageously priced politician haircut stories or developments on the latest celebrity divorces.

I'd like to thank Lyndsey Lewis for pointing out a seemingly unnoticed problem. I wholeheartedly agree with the Alligator editor's Wednesday editorial notebook regarding the lax focus on important issues in the news. But what's more disturbing to me is that people read this unfocused crap.

People not only read it - they make it the most popular news. At one point, the most-viewed news pieces on CNN.com on Wednesday were a video of a boy sleeping with a 20-foot python and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks' continuing wholesomeness. Note to that boy: A snake is not to be confused with a teddy bear. Note to Sparks: Whatever helps you sleep at night.

And a note to CNN.com readers: Try concentrating on news stories that have an actual effect on you. That means you skip over the entertainment section. Thanks.

Many people live in a magical, important-news-free bubble. Names like "Michael Mukasey," "John Roberts" and "Bill Nelson" elicit blank looks and cocker spaniel-like head tilts.

Take my former roommate. She could tell me the plot of every episode of "Grey's Anatomy," but she couldn't name three Republican candidates in the 2008 presidential race. But she saw Barack Obama on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," so she named him in an attempt to compensate.

This is the type of selective (or forced) ignorance we're dealing with.

I remember speaking with someone who thought only journalism majors should read the news. How did she come up with that logic? Brilliant! Next time I go out to eat and stiff my waiter I'll just say, "How was I supposed to calculate that tip? I'm no math major!"

One of my past journalism instructors emphasized the true nature of this profession, which reflects the audience's interests. Her words, "If it bleeds, it leads," led to my rude awakening. I recognized the tenets of any newsworthy story, but the statement still hit me like a wrecking ball.

Some go as far as claiming journalism is a dying profession. Many complain it's corrupt, biased and that no one cares.

I don't agree, but I see people don't care. They want celebrity blood. They want celebrity divorce court. They want to see the inebriated beautiful people caught with their keys in the ignitions.

For some odd reason, they care what politicians look like in bathing suits, as if they expect them to be former Abercrombie & Fitch models.

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Even when we read about blood, massacres and devastation, we're more affected by publicity stunts on YouTube than the actual tragedies.

We'd rather be entertained than informed. It's evident at all levels of society and across the board of the entertainment industry because the entertainment industry and the news industry are now one and the same. People just sit and wait for the story with the greatest gossip potential, as the notable stories get pushed to the back burner.

Despite my doubts, I'll push on because I have high hopes - high hopes that in the time it took you to read this, if you're uninformed, you will have looked up who Michael Mukasey, John Roberts and Bill Nelson are. Or you could give me a summary on the latest episode of "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila." It's just as important, right?

Stephanie Rosenberg is a junior majoring in journalism. Her column appears on Thursdays.

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