by Joe Jaszewski
Photo Intern

A trip to your neighborhood supermarket or bookstore's magazine rack will make apparent America's relentless thirst for celebrity news and gossip. Magazine after magazine after magazine caters to the American consumer looking for the latest news on their favorite actor or actress. What dress is she wearing at the awards party? Who is he dating now? One 'exclusive' interview after another with Hollywood's flavor-of-the-month takes up page after page of magazine.

It pains me to witness this waste. Think if the space that was devoted to empty celebrity gossip could be used for stories that could enrich, inform, and enlighten. People consume tremendous amounts of trivial information about others who are really just individuals like themselves, but are placed on a pedestal because they perform in the mass-media. We are all just people; everyone matters. My personal life is no more or less important than Brad Pitt's. What is more important is the history that gets made quietly, in everyday moments, in real life. So little space is devoted to hard journalism that it is depressing. It is also a sign of the times. The mass-media establishes a status quo of what someone should be: how they should act, look and be. When people cannot meet these expectations imposed by the mass-media, they look to live out their lives through those who they think can: celebrities. It is no surprise that magazines with celebrities on the front sell better than those with hard news. Celebrity 'news' distracts the public from what is happening with themselves and in their community; from what is really important and deserving of attention.

This is where I and other community photojournalists come in. Shooting for the daily student newspaper, The California Aggie, or The Sacramento Bee's group of community weekly newspapers, Neighbors, I cover events, news, sports, and features that often no one else does. Through this, I am able to level the field of representation. I can juxtapose images of the communication between a deaf father and his young daughter, or the pride of Ray Bayles and Jeanna Iben and they watch fellow Strauss dancers perform on stage, to images in the same newspaper of Jennifer Lopez or The Backstreet Boys or Madonna. As a photojournalist, and specifically a community photojournalist, I have the ability to represent the moments that I feel are important to contrast the representation of 'important people.' This is my silent protest of celebrity culture.


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