Excuse the ambiguous title, as I know, that could pretty much apply to anything in the world today. But the particular issue that the title refers to is how today the British media seem to insist on waiting for a celebrity to notice an issue before documenting it.
Last Sunday, the Observer decided to follow Lily Cole into the Thai jungle to uncover the plight of Burmese children living on the border of their home country. The story is told through the philanthropic eyes of the young model, which apparently gives the story a higher place on the news agenda. This has been a growing trend. As newspapers are having to tighten their belts, it takes something really special for them to fly a reporter half way round the world, the headline should have read what the real undercurrent of the article was “Supermodel survives day in the Jungle”… oh my god get me out of here. It is depressing to think that even corporations with such a prestigious record as the Guardian Media Group now have to dumb down their material to suit the ever increasing populist diet of the desensitised nation.
This phenomenon is disturbing to say the least. What happened to hearty, investigative journalism? When the journalist wanted to save the world by providing a lifeline through his ink? Now we just see a ‘celebrity’ on a PR trip. Don’t get me wrong, such trips open the eyes for the mass of the population that won’t pick up a newspaper unless there is a cute face they recognise sucking them in. It is certainly a way of shedding new light on the world’s developmental issues, but there is a worry that when the icon leaves, the iconic message he/she was trying to convey goes too.
The pushing together of two polarised cultures is certainly something of a spectacle. But the real question is would these self-made millionaires give up their mansion and day job to fully commit to a role in development? I can’t see it can you. Other celebrities have taken a new route for promoting development. It has recently been announced that stars such as Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys and Justin Timberlake are forfeiting their online persona through the magic of social media until their fans help to generate $1 million dollars for World Aids day in association with ‘Keep a child alive. This is an innovative commitment that will really make fans sit up and listen. My advice; stay at home, and use the people power you have to mobilise your fans into doing some collective good, that will make a much bigger difference than one little holiday.