What Should Pop Culture Reporting Look Like?

Thoughts on Kim Kardasian’s posterior and more.

Conor Friedersdorf wrote an excellent article for The Atlantic last week, criticizing Fox News for its ample coverage of Kim Kardashian. He flags one of their most recent articles, which sneered at Kardashian for her nude photo shoot and its inappropriateness. “I don’t have any urgent objection to clickbait articles that capitalize on the desire of the masses to see a photo of Kardashian’s butt,” he writes. “What’s less forgivable, to me, is pretending to disapprove of the Kardashian photo in order to profit from it via traffic, even while snarkily belittling the subject’s body.” He continues,

When can a media organization never again complain that anyone else is coarsening the culture? When its Kardashian coverage in the last month alone includes:

That is what it looks like to fail cultural conservatives.

This is a sad indication of the decline of cultural reporting in our culture—not merely because a news venue such as Fox would publish all these stories, but also because they are obviously in demand. Friedersdorf is right that these stories are ridiculously salacious clickbait. But does this mean we shouldn’t write about pop culture topics at all?

There is a difference between gossipy reporting, and thoughtful commentary. And one of the best ways to combat sorry pop culture reporting is to provide good commentary, whenever possible. Rod Dreher does a good job examining cultural trends, and providing thoughtful analysis. The Atlantic‘s entertainment and pop culture coverage is usually thoughtful, interesting, and tactful. The New Yorker and Slate often offer excellent film reviews. These sites and people cover important, interesting topics, because they know pop culture is important:  it affects the way everyday people think about virtues, values, and mores.

Writers also need to consider this: every story adds (or pulls against) the information tide—so how are we going to encourage a holistic, thoughtful ebb and flow?

Read the rest at The American Conservative

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