The reality of celebrity journalism: a look at the changing presence of reality TV celebs in People magazine
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The ubiquitous nature of celebrity news and culture has been in place for decades, but its changing face is difficult to define. More specifically, reality TV celebrities are increasingly infiltrating the established celebrity news market, garnering amounts of media attention similar to a George Clooney or Jennifer Aniston -- not necessarily positive attention, however. Following the onslaught of Jon and Kate Gosselin media madness during the summer and fall of 2009, the researcher sought to find out just how much attention -- and what kind of attention -- reality stars are getting on the cover of People magazine. This large-scale content analysis sampled from covers of People published from 1985 to 2009, recording and analyzing both content-related and visual-related context. Results yielded a dramatic increase in appearances of qualifying reality TV subjects on People following the 1988 strike of the Writers Guild of America. Findings also pointed to little distinction in the editorial and visual treatment of reality TV subjects on the cover, in comparison to traditional celebrity subjects. Because of the risky, financially motivated nature of American magazine journalism, the importance of upholding existing branding and conventions on covers prevails, even in the face of a drastically changing aspect of the entertainment industry.
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