Once upon a time, there were kings, queens, princes (charming and not so charming), princesses, nobles, knights, sourcerers, witches and common folk. Well, nowadays our world got poorer - there are certainly still nobles, but they are of no consequence, live in the real world and are depressingly fallible. The times when kings, queens and their court were role models are gone and so is the satisfaction when fairy tale villains got what they had coming.
Nowadays, it is the celebrities who took over the part of the fairytale characters. There's only one tiny but important difference: celebrities are living, breathing human beings. They don't exist only on paper or in our heads. If you 'unveil the awful truth' about them, you hurt a real person, although it might be 'only on the internet' or 'on paper'.
We all read the yellow press output and are happy for the actress who got married to the sexiest man alive. If the very same couple gets divorced some years later, when there is a lot of mud slinging, lawsuits and trials, a lot of people read about that with an odd satisfaction. Oh, look at them, they are famous, they have loads of money and they are no happier than us, that's the message the gossip rags deliver to us. The less happiness famous people have in their golden palaces, the more avid we absorb the articles telling us about it. This is a sad truth about human nature: we feel so much better knowing that others feel worse.
Meanwhile, everybody is upset about hate speech. We keep savaging each other via social media, only slightly more obnoxious than gossip journalists who write about the mishaps of stars and politicians. Perhaps we should rethink the term 'newsworthiness' before we cry for new laws that will never serve the purpose they are designed for: parenting a whole society. As long as we put up with journalists and paparazzi who harrass, chase and defame people for the one reason that they are so-called celebrities, just because that sells those rags, we don't deserve being treated with respect. We let them invade the privacy of people just for our fun, our entertainment, our desperate need for consolation.
Don't get me wrong. There are, of course, newsworthy topics. Harvey Weinstein and his exploitation of numerous women, for example, was such a topic. But what good is a report on such a person when it is buried among the parenting deficits and marital strifes of celebrities? To add insult to injury, research seems to be completely overrated. Here's the thing about rumors: they are rumors! And in my opinion it is completely irresponsible to spread rumors disguised as news. Sources that say this, close friends saying that are not newsworthy. Especially regarding gossip, where danger for life and limb is almost nonexistent, accuracy in research should be indispensable.
So, if we want to bring more respect into our society, I think we should start with watching ourselves. What do we read? What do we watch on YouTube? What on TV? How do we perceive what we read and see? What consequences does that have? How do your colleagues talk about what they read and saw? Just observe what is happening and what the influence is. And please, please pay attention to research and facts. Rule of thumb: The more unnamed sources, the more frequent the word 'rumor' or its synonyms and the more adjectives, the less trustworthy. Take those articles for what they are: fairy tales, born of fantasy and the necessity to make a living. Should court proceedings be involved, wait until they are concluded.
And never forget that you are talking about living, breathing people who are just as sensitive as yourself. Remember that before you call someone names without even knowing them or what's really going on with them. Or choose the best option right away: DON'T BUY THOSE RAGS! ;o)