The problem one editor has with the relationship between celebrities and journalists, from GOOD.
Cord Jefferson, senior editor at GOOD, once interviewed Bono—you know, the lead singer of mega-band U2 and the face of the advocacy work of ONE. Jefferson was offered 15 minutes to talk with the star. By the day of the interview, it was cut to nine or 10. Then, while talking to the ever-sunglassed singer, he was told by the publicist to wrap it up at about the five-minute mark.
No less, Bono’s team and the magazine Jefferson wrote for were happy with the resulting article, Jefferson says. But really, what can one get out of a five-minute interview that has been groomed and pre-approved by a team of public relations experts? Jefferson writes about the relationship between celebrity, public relations and journalism in a post for GOOD.
The celebrity interview is a strange beast: Something that should make the celebrity feel at least a little bit vulnerable ends up being taken over by the celebrity and their publicist. The "journalist"? They're just there to transcribe.
The celebrity-industrial complex is a real phenomenon, and a big part of the problem is the droves of publicists and PR people whose sole job is to shield their famous clients from saying or doing anything to tarnish their reputations. This means hawking out 10-minute, highly regulated interviews to newspapers and magazines in the hope that some of them won't care that they're being condescended to.
When GOOD was offered 10 minutes with Bono a few days ago, Jefferson explains what happened:
We turned it down. Not because Bono's charity work—the subject of the proposed interview—isn't admirable, but because interviews in which supercelebrities talk about their charity work is about as interesting as watching a dog hump a couch cushion, and about as valuable.
Jefferson is sure to note that there are great reporters who work the entertainment beat, but that pre-packaged interviews are the norm, not the exception.
Check out his whole post on GOOD here.