Americans blame the media for giving too much space to celebrity scandals. That is, if we are to believe a survey by Pew research centre where 87 per cent of the respondents felt media didn't get the balance between celebrity and serious news right (via Roy Greenslade).
I have one, major issue with this survey. Everyone who's ever worked in TV, radio, newspapers or on news sites, will know that what they produce is constantly being rated by number of viewers, listeners, copies sold, clicks. Nowhere is this clearer than online, where the number of clicks your story generate is instantly available, in other words: clickability rules.
It's no secret that sex, celebrity and scandal generate some of the biggest hits online. So either a fair share of those 87 per cent must nurture a very guilty secret, or the 8 per cent who thought media got the balance just about right must be clicking in the millions.
Or the sample was too small, skewed, the questions leading, or what have you. If mergers and acquisitions, or poverty and environmental issues, had a similar effect on clickrates, I don't know any editor who wouldn't start churning out stories on that in the millions, and drop the keywords alluding to those issues in every possible headline.
Something to think about next time you feel tempted to click on that story about Brangelina....