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Modern-Day Journalism

Posted on the 27 August 2013 by April Whaley @aprilcwhaley

Modern-Day Journalism                                         Miley Cyrus
By now, even those who didn’t watch the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday (like myself) have at least heard about a spectacularly controversial performance done by Miley Cyrus.  One has to imagine, the performance was an attempt from the former child-star to be intentionally controversial and prove she was no longer “Hannah Montana.”  Although, I personally would not have chosen to grind with giant teddy bears as a way to prove I was no longer a child. 
Besides the giant teddy bear grinding, Miley was half-naked, “twerking,” and continuously stuck her tongue out while making strange faces I assume were meant to be edgy.  It’s not the first time a child-star has tried to change her image (Brittany Spears comes to mind), but it’s the public reaction that interests me more than the performance itself.
Yesterday morning, everyone who logged on to noticed that the top story on the website was not the unrest in Egypt, or Syria, or the wildfires in Yosemite, but actually, “Miley Cyrus Did What???”  Along with a subheading of, “Twerks, stuns at VMAs.”  As you can guess, a serious news outlet like CNN prioritizing Miley Cyrus over deaths in Syria was offensive to some people.                                                                   Mirror
        Within a few hours, the Onion responded with a fake story supposedly explaining their choice.  “Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning” was a fake opinion piece credited to the actual Managing Editor, Meredith Artley.  In the article, it was explained that CNN only posted it as their top story to drive up web traffic. 
"It was an attempt to get you to click on so that we could drive up our web traffic, which in turn would allow us to increase our advertising revenue.  There was nothing, and I mean nothing, about that story that related to the important news of the day, the chronicling of significant human events, or the idea that journalism itself can be a force for positive change in the world."

        The really interesting part of the story is not even the article, but the fact that the real Meredith Artley, when she responded to the Onion’s piece, did not try very hard to deny that this was the case.  On Twitter, she responded, “To clarify, I did not write this … But I accept all compliments and deny all accusations.  Tx for the page views.”  She responded to another Twitter user later with, “I’m reading it as more of a joke than something to call the legal team about.” 

Modern-Day Journalism
              The Onion article ended with, “So you see, there’s no stopping this. And what is this, you ask? Modern-day journalism. And what is modern-day journalism? Getting you to click on this link.”  Despite the fact that it’s the Onion, it still raises an interesting point. Modern-day journalism, television or Internet, seems more focused on shock factor than critical content.  That’s how viewing figures are driven up.  It’s the reason reality shows and daytime talk shows like Jerry Springer have been so popular; people have a hard time not watching a train wreck.  I have little to no interest inMiley Cyrusor theVideo Music Awards, but I had a hard time tearing my eyes away.  No matter how enlightened our culture might become, train wrecks are still entertaining.

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