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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

US: Celebrities as journalists - Blurring the line between news and entertainment?

Mid-August the San Francisco Chronicle published a series by actor Sean Penn who was acting as a correspondent in Iran. The five parts summed up to 13,000 words, which is "daunting by any newspaper standards", writes DenverPost.com. Some working journalists were said to be outraged that the celebrity was encouraged to "play" journalist. However, DenverPost.com stated that "Penn's stories have proved readable and informative."

Phil Bronstein, Chronicle executive editor said on DenverPost.com: "I don't think we should substitute journalists with celebrities ... one of the great sins of our profession is sanctimony." But Bronstein also noted that Sean Penn is a "local personality who reported for the Chronicle from Iraq in 2004 and who 'brings a keen sense of story and the moment.' The actor is not presented as a journalist but as an observer giving his perspective in diary form."

By using celebrities as journalists in order to boost readership, newspapers run the risk of blurring the line between entertainment and news. They will have to think about when it is appropriate to feature a celebrity as "special correspondent".

Source: DenverPost.com

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on September 6, 2005 at 12:44 PM in m. Improving editorial quality | Permalink

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