Is this really ‘news’ … ?

Every time I take a trip over to the UK I usually take the opportunity to bring myself up to speed with current affairs. After all, what we hear in France of Britain is usually little more than politics or a little bit of European social commentary.

It says a lot about Britain then, when there is war in DR Congo, financial meltdown across the planet, bombings in the middle east and the US presidential election – that the lead story for the entire three days of my visit should be taken up with celebrity scandal.

It was only recently that I noted the home nation’s obsession with celebrity, but nothing demonstrated it more aptly than the events last week. Even the BBC were guilty of giving in to tabloid pressure and saturating their own broadcasts with ‘giving the people what they want’.

In a nutshell this is the story:

Two celebrities are a bit rude to another celebrity on a national radio show. Insulted celebrity complains to radio channel, sparking off a media storm braying for the blood of the guilty parties. As a result one resigns, the other is suspended and the head of the radio channel also resigns.

The disproportionate coverage this story received, and no doubt is still receiving but thankfully we don’t hear about it in France, is insulting. Not just insulting to the victims of the crimes and disasters that are playing out around the world as we speak, but insulting to the British public.

What sort of skewed version of reality would we have if every time a minor celeb was slightly rude to someone it made headline news?

While the French are not free of criticism, at least they know the difference. Rule number one, for any French editor worth his salt, is that any story involving Carla Bruni should be relegated to the end of the news, or preferably ignored entirely.


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