Tom Freston: Paris Hiltonization of the news

Question: How do we address it?

Tom Freston: Well I don’t know. I’m not a leader of a media company anymore, but I think the basic drift of your question is the . . . that sort of low hanging, irresistible, sensational fruit of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Given that people have so much time to consume things, the more they consume this sort of meaningless but somewhat pleasurable pap, how much does it exclude their ability to really better understand what’s going on . . . really going on in the world with serious issues? Are they gonna take up all their time as allocated towards absorption of whatever is coming through the media with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton? I mean yeah that’s an issue. And you know it’s very interesting. Back in the ‘70s in New York, all three of the local news shows . . . news networks, they used to contain on the local news a certain amount of international and national news. And it was really, I think, the introduction of FOX, and then the copying of that format where local news translated to fires, car chases, murders. That sort of more tabloidal news would actually be more successful on the ratings front than things more serious and thoughtful. And I guess it’s easy to understand. But then the pursuit of that, you know, and the snowballing of that, one could argue has dumbed down to some degree a certain proportion of the population, making them maybe a bit more susceptible to bad judgments by their leadership. I don’t know what the answer is. On the other hand, we are seeing to some degree the democratization of the media. So those fans of more serious world news . . . I mean there’s a lot of outlets where you can get that if you know where to look. You’ve got the PBSs. You’ve got, you know, various . . . all kinds of news sites online where more increasingly people do get their news. But I do believe there’s a gene in most people that they’re gonna gravitate towards that, you know, personality driven, sensational stuff. I mean a large part of the population finds it kind of irresistible. And I don’t know really what you do about it. I never really ran a news organization per se, so it’s nothing I’ve ever had to be really professionally very thoughtful about, so I just have opinions like everybody else. If anything I was involved in personality driven news from the kind of networks I work with. But there is a, you know, a decreasing, just say geography gap between people in our country and other countries. I mean I think a lot of people in America couldn’t tell you where a lot of countries of the world really are. Iraq, Iran, which one was which. You know if you don’t know that kind of basic information, it puts the republic in a fair degree of vulnerability.

Recorded On: 7/6/07

How do we address this phenomenon?

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

26 ultra-rich people own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest

The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."

Getty Images and Wikimedia Commons
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
  • In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
  • The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Keep reading Show less

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer
popular

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less