Public Blames Media for Too Much Celebrity Coverage

August 15, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Broadcast & Cable | Media & Entertainment | Men | Television | Women | Youth & Gen X

Celebrity scandals receive too much news coverage, say an overwhelming majority of the public (87%), and very few (2%) say there is too little celebrity scandal coverage, according to a recent national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Moreover, the public’s interests and the news media’s coverage were not completely in sync, at least during the end of July, when the Pew study took place. Interest in the Iraq war remained high among the public, in spite of relatively little news coverage of it, Pew said.

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Fully a quarter of the public said the Iraq war was the single news story they followed more closely than any other at the end of July, making it the public’s top news story. However, the national news media devoted just 3% of its overall coverage to the war, or the sixth most heavily covered news story of the week.

Other, celebrity-scandal-related findings from the Pew study:

  • More than half – 54% – of those who say celebrity news is over-covered also say news organizations are the most to blame, whereas nearly a third (32%) say the public is to blame; 12% say the media and the public are equally at fault.

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  • Men and women generally agree on the question (52% of men and 55% of women blame news organizations).
  • Republicans and Democrats also agree, though Republicans are more critical of media (57% of Republicans and 52% of Democrats blame the media for too much tabloid news).
  • However, a noteworthy difference emerges when considering respondents’ age:
    • Young people blame the public more than the news media, with nearly half of those under age 30 saying it’s the public’s appetite for scandal news that spurs the amount of coverage; 31% say news organizations are to blame.
    • Among those over age 30, large majorities blame the media, and less than 30% blame the public.

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  • The public points to TV as the main culprit, blaming cable slightly more than network TV:
    • More than one-third (34%) say cable news networks are the biggest purveyors of celebrity news.
    • Some 27% say that the big three network news outlets give these stories the most coverage.
    • Internet news sites are cited by 15%; 8% point to newspapers and 4% point to radio news programs.
  • Democrats are more likely to say cable news has the most celebrity coverage, whereas Republicans are evenly split on the issue
  • Young people are among the most likely to list cable as the worst offender.

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