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Coverage of Paris Hilton’s return to jail: Is it fair?

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I’d like to thank the august Old Gray Lady for being hip and catching me up with all things newsy and entertaining. At 4:23 p.m. EST, The New York Times informed me that Paris Hilton, famous fleshpot, would return to jail. Complete with Nick Ut’s AP photo, too.

Yep. There’s the weeping Ms. Hilton. Right next to the lede heds: “General Pace to Retire as Joint Chiefs Chairman” and “Immigrant Bill Sponsors Vow to Press On.”

The rest of the Big Media piled on, too.

Thanks, too, to It told me on its lede page, under “breaking news” headlined “Crying Hilton ordered to jail,” that Ms. Hilton is indeed going back to the Big House. There is, of course, a link to video of a police car picking her up to return to court. And a link to its Entertainment page, where you’ll find the story and Nick Ut’s AP photo. It’s all labeled a “developing story.”

At 4:42 p.m., I see that The Washington Post has buried the story. The link is five heds down, under “Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Pace to Step Down,” “Report Addresses CIA Sites,” “Jefferson Pleads Not Guilty” and “Carl Bernstein on Hillary Clinton.”

At 4:25 p.m. EST, there’s the Los Angeles Times, paralleling the play of the NYT. There’s Nick Ut’s photo and the hed (“Distraught Paris sent back to jail”) played to the right of “Gates picks replacement for head of Joint Chiefs,” “New passport restriction waived” and “Bush is briefly taken ill at G-8.”

At the Chicago Tribune‘s Web site, Ms. Hilton’s misfortune is the lede art — a video — over the hed “A crying Hilton sent back to jail.”

At the Boston Globe‘s site, the story’s played No. 2 under “Whooping cough hits three on Cape Cod.” In the Globe hed, Ms. Hilton’s condition has worsened: “Screaming Paris Hilton sent back to jail.” [Emphasis added.]

The Miami Herald stuck Ms. Hilton (and a tight crop of Nick Ut’s photo) in the middle of a three-part banner at the top of the Web page: On her left, “Un-Daunted/Culpepper can’t compete” and on her right, “Downtown Miami/How bad is it? You tell us.” Ms. Hilton’s hed: “Paris Hilton/Back to the slammer.”

At the Denver Post, Ms. Hilton receives fairly modest attention: Her story is merely the ninth hed down on the lead Web page under stories about actual real news.

Very few news Web sites will not carry news of Ms. Hilton’s return to jail.

Two questions: Is it news? Is it fair to Ms. Hilton? She’s rich, spoiled, a whack job … and very, very young and stupid, which are not crimes. Is this sweeping, blanket, front-page, over-the-top coverage fair?

xpost: Scholars & Rogues and 5th Estate


Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 8, 2007 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. The weeping and screaming, “It’s not fair!” is definitely over the top, but that’s true Paris Hilton fashion. I don’t think the story deserved all the front-page coverage it has received, but that’s true “journalism” fashion these days. Is it news? Celebrity “news,” yes, but none that I would consider worthy of stopping the presses.
    I think she got what she deserved. She broke the law. She pays the price. What’s not fair about that?


    June 9, 2007 at 12:13 am

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