Thursday, November 09, 2006

Madonna Takes on the Media

This week's issue of TIME magazine includes a candid interview with Madonna on her recent adoption. When asked, "Why do you think people are so upset that you adopted a Malawian child," she responded, "People or the media?"

She raises an important question that suggests the media can manipulate the word "celebrity" to create controversy and drama. In other words, if you attach a personality's name to a story, you're bound to get higher ratings. The Madonna/David Banda situation illuminates this reality.

"When you throw in things like I'm a celebrity and I somehow got special treatment, or make the implication of kidnapping, it gets mixed into a stew, and it sells a lot of papers," Madonna added. People are drawn toward gossip and love to read about it. It is unclear whether or not the criticisms Madonna is facing are justifiable; they are based on speculation. Therefore, is if fair for the media to dedicate so much print space and air-time to blasting Madonna for claims that can't be substantiated?

The language of the headlines themselves, "Adoption Fiasco," "Adoption Controversy" and "Did Banda, Madonna See Eye to Eye" sound more so like the makings of a soap opera than a breaking news story. Don't we have more important news to be covering than a singer giving a child access to the good life?

This story broke out weeks ago, yet it's still a topic that's generating concern. Is this where the media should be exhausting its resources and have we breached our duties to being professional journalists?



At Friday, November 10, 2006, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

We do have more important news than Madonna, Anna Nicole Smith and K-Fed getting Fed-Exed (I have seen so many versions of that headline).

I think part of the problem with the Madonna coverage is that we haven't addressed the reasons for the controversy head on. Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell wrote about the cultural and racial implications of the adoption, and I applaud her for honestly discussing the issue. Maybe the place for that conversation is a column, but newspapers and broadcasts have to find a way to dig deeper if we're going to justify reporting on celebrities.

At Saturday, November 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could not agree more. Even if Madonna were all the terrible things the media claims she is, and her actions were led by less admirable motives, saving a child from a life of poverty and war couldn't be the worst thing this woman has ever done.


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