Sunday, 9 May 2010

Lazy Journalism

For the last few weekends the supplements in the papers have carried articles on the "cougar" phenomenon. There are a few issues at play here... First of all the "cougar" thing isn't entirely new, it's been around in the world of pornography for some time, but what's interesting is the media's new-found fascination with it. Why now all of a sudden are the weeklies carrying articles focussed on "older" women who seek out younger men? Interviewing them, and lauding their way of life? What was the trigger? Television.

Is it a coincidence that the media have latched onto this only after an American sit-com on the subject staring Courtney Cox was aired in the UK? Now I can barely flick through a glossy without Trumpesque housewives pictured under headlines such as "I love younger men, so what?" with articles peppered with ubiquitous cliché such as "they're not exploiting me, I'm exploiting them". Are journalists really just sitting there as popular culture passes them buy, doing nothing but watching TV and when TV introduces them to something new they think they might look into it? I don't doubt for a second that they are.

Lazy journalism aside, the other issue at play here is the age-old one of the double standards that pervades most studies of the sexes. Aren't old men who chase young girls disgusting perverts and paedophiles? People to be hounded by the press, not celebrated by them?

There are even TV shows that do nothing but re-broadcast things they have found on YouTube. And other comedy-based shows are increasingly turning to YouTube clips to pad-out their running time.

Even looking at the output of respected journalists such as those who feature on the BBC's website, you can see reams of articles that are nothing more than passing on what people are saying on Twitter, or Facebook. Or "the blogsphere"…what a self-congratulatory term that is. Am I a journalist? Hell, no. But looking at what journalism seems to be becoming it probably wouldn't be hard to give it a go.

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