Friday, June 08, 2007

Liveblogging Paris Hilton

[posted by Callimachus]

No, I have nothing to add to the story. But I am on the wire desk tonight and will have some chance to influence the composition of tomorrow's edition. And how much Paris will be in it.

I am arguing to keep it on the back page or elsewhere inside. I am making the "just because people are very interested in it, that doesn't make it news" case. I am losing badly at the moment.

Part of what's working against me is the rest of the wire is as dead as Salt Lake City on a Saturday night. Nobody is coming to my rescue here. Can't Ahmadinejad start flapping his gums or Putin threaten to shoot missiles at Estonia or Cheney go hunting again. Quickly? Please?

This is a little-considered aspect of media coverage among those who criticize it from outside. You have the same 1,600-inch newshole, or 23 minutes of air time, no matter what there is to report. You can tell the 20 most newsworthy stories of the day, as you judge them, but you have to find 20 one way or another, and not all days are good ones. Paris just might be the best thing happening right now.

Of course that discounts the stories that creep, not break. The genome, the state of the middle class, the role of immigrants in the economy, the progress in Fallujah, the mechanics of climatology. And those are the ones that really matter. But on an average day they're ignored. The journalistic institutions don't have the resources to devote to them and they'd still get bumped by Paris even if they did.

UPDATE: Definitely lost that one. Even the New York Times budget shows her on A-1 tomorrow.

The thing with her? You can't accuse me of being glamored; I like some of her style, but it surprises me that people claim to find her attractive. She's not unpretty. That's as far as I can go.

She's always done what she was told. That's been her whole life: Do this, wear this, be this, show up here at this time. It's not about her wealth per se; it's about the job she took as a model and a celebrity -- famous for being famous. And in return, she got to indulge in whatever folly tempted her or brought small satisfaction to her limited life. Such as tippling to excess and feeling pretty in her Barbie Ferrari. I don't really blame her, in her limited perspective, for feeling that American culture reneged on the deal they had.