September 4, 2010

Accepting the Journal's "Page Too"

My bride and I often vote for opposing candidates in elections, thereby cancelling any impact our votes might have upon public office holders from U.S. president to mayor.

But politics isn’t the only place we’ve seen things differently.

When the Rapid City Journal created its shrine to wayward celebrities on “Page Too,” my spouse became an almost instant fan. Curmudgeon that I am, I would not allow myself to forage through these juicy tidbits of “human interest” stories that have little relevance to my life. As a journalism school graduate, I thought there was just too much weightier stuff that I should be reading – everything from health care issues to the plight of Social Security. And surely the war in Afghanistan and our faltering economy deserve more of my attention!

But to get from the Journal’s front page to local and state news on page A3, I’ve always felt I had to hurriedly ignore “Page Too,” lest my eyes and curiosity be aroused by those fluffy features.

Alas, it’s no use. The longer that I worry that the Journal is only feeding the frenzy over all things celebrity, the more I catch myself shamelessly devouring the latest gossip about David Letterman, Lady Gaga, or Barbra Streisand.

I am a reluctant, if guilt-ridden, convert.

So now it’s time to pay homage to the Rapid City Journal for hatching “Page Too.” Without it, I wouldn’t know about the tax woes of actor Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee), the non-injury accident outside the home of author Stephen King, or the seemingly endless drug problems of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, rapper T.I., and a litany of other celebrities.

Commercial television long ago realized the value of dumbing down its programming to “give the people what they want.” And it’s so much less expensive than providing all that confusing news stuff.  Newspapers have just been slower to abandon their journalistic souls in adopting this “eye candy” media strategy.

Tomorrow, I may even discontinue my search for elusive world news in the back pages of the Journal, while also cancelling my subscriptions to Time and the Wall Street Journal. That way I can focus more on Page Too, contributing my “Two Cents” worth of anonymous opinion, catching up on “The Odd” blurbs, and maybe even digressing to more on-line computer time, Twittering and exploring Facebook.

Maybe Paris Hilton will be my friend.

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