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Don’t celebritise everything

Have I just invented a new word? Anyway, have to get it off my chest as I’ve been glancing at this tiny story in London’s Evening Standard since Friday when it was published. Despite its lenght, it annoys me immensely. Here it is, page 2, last Friday:


The headline says “Estelle’s cousin spared jail over drugs”.

In other words, someone you never heard of got stopped by cops, went to court, got off lightly, didn’t go to jail. End of story. Worth the space on page 2? No.

What do you do to make it sexier (as you do with news nowadays)? You dig deep into their family connections hoping that the six-degree separation rule will link them to at least a Hollywood A-lister. No such luck here, but hey, we have a Grammy winner, let’s stick her name in the headline instead. And voila!

I know that we live in celebrity-obsessed times and unless something is endorsed by some mediocre girl-band singer-cum-talent judge or shagged by a footballer, it’s not worth mentioning. But this little piece should’ve been relegated to nibs (or “news in brief” for the uninitiated), somewhere on page 14. I’m not saying it’s not woth mentioning, I’m just saying it doesn’t deserve the space it was given and the celebrity treatment it didn’t need. (“Estelle was not present at today’s hearing” – you don’t say!).

It’s not just the Evening Standard, everyone is doing it. A few years ago another evening paper published a short story on a stabbing in which a young man died. It was 2007, teenage stabbings in London were at an all-time high, so how do you think that story was sold? Yes, that’s right, the stabbed boy was a certain well-known singer’s “close friend”. The story was illustrated with her picture. She wasn’t even quoted.

Such treatment at best shifts the focus of the story and at worst distorts the news completely. It’s unnecessary.

Not everything needs to be popular or sexy. Certainly not in news.

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