In defense of entertainment journalism


Photo: Evan Walsh

When my journalism professor asked me what I want to do for a career, I lied. I lied because I knew my teacher wouldn’t respect the professional path I have chosen, even though she has taught numerous students who work and have been successful in that field.

I want to be an entertainment journalist, something I feel like I’ve had to hide. One of my braver classmates proclaimed that she wanted to report on entertainment. The class grew quiet in an almost nervous way, while our teacher laughed. She went on about how underappreciated hard news is by our generation. I was upset because this is not the first time this has happened.

The majority of professors I have had are successful print journalists who subscribe to the old school of journalism. This entails print-heavy stories about issues such as conflicts in the Middle East or impending fiscal problems. Learning the fundamentals from them has been inspiring. However, the media landscape is changing. The world is no longer driven by just hard news and print journalism. I gravitate towards entertainment news because it comforts me, allowing me to stay in the lighter side of life rather than wallowing in the bad. 

Entertainment journalism covers all content pertaining to television, movies, music, books, and the celebrities who participate in these activities. There is a distinction between paparazzi photograph blogs like TMZ and news sites like Entertainment Tonight. TMZ and bloggers like Perez Hilton focus on celebrities’ personal lives and report on rumors or tips they receive. Shows like E! News and Access Hollywood conduct interviews, write stories backed up by reputable sources, and don’t solely focus on the personal lives of celebrities.

I look up to people like Maria Menounous, a former Emerson student, co-host of Extra, and a hardworking journalist. I followed Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic Roger Ebert’s reviews religiously for years. I worked with Nancy O’Dell, co-anchor of Entertainment Tonight and Emmy award-winning entertainment journalist, this summer. O’Dell, who’s been in the business for over 20 years,  taught me how important and relevant entertainment news is. No story is beneath her; she reports on the stories the viewers care about. These journalists, although reporting through different mediums, all contribute to the global conversation about entertainment.

We care about celebrities, television, movies, and music because we care about human-interest stories. Entertainment journalism is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. It should be respected among faculty and old-fashioned journalists. Hard news will never go away and gaining an understanding of hard news is valuable for any journalism student, no matter his or her niche beat. However, entertainment news should be more respected and integrated into the Emerson curriculum for students who are interested. There is currently one class at Emerson that covers the topic of entertainment, among other things, called Topics of Cultural Affairs. Adding more comprehensive, in-depth entertainment journalism classes to the course catalogue could further Emerson’s goal of being a school at the forefront of the changing media world. 

I don’t want to lie to my teachers or feel embarrassed about a topic I am passionate about. The news we encounter every day can be abject, with no solution in sight. Sometimes we need to bury our head in the sands of Hollywood and enjoy a little Extra.