I like to follow Romenesko’s blog, to see what’s shakin’ on Media Lane. What’s up is Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood Daily says Associated Press is hiring 21 new employees in 2008 spread across Los Angeles, New York and London to work the entertainment beat. It’s good to know some journalists are finding new jobs, but it’s disturbing to see where the market’s going.
Certainly, the AP is under intense financial pressure during these doomed economic times for newspapers: Dow Jones newswires just announced it’ll stop using AP stories after failing to agree on a price after more than a year of negotiations. Clearly, the AP now thinks that Hollywood coverage can become its new cash cow. It’s already led to AP signing a deal to provide celebrity video for People.com.
Lou Ferrara, the AP’s managing editor for sports, entertainment and multimedia, explained to The New York Times that the news serviceâ€™s more than 1,500 daily papers and thousands of other media outlets were hungering for more photos and videos of celebrities.
I can’t blame AP for filling a business need. But the fact that there’s a growing interest in all things Britney isn’t just sad, it’s scary. It means our collective eyes aren’t on any big prizes–like better schools, a sustainable energy policy, healthcare for all. We’re at war in the Middle East, our economy’s falling apart and the icecaps are melting. But who cares? What’s important is Britney went to the c-store for ranch-flavored Doritos. And our nation’s best reporters were there!