If you’re going to focus on Charlie Sheen, there are better ways to do it

The infamous party boy Charlie Sheen, recently outsed for his hit
sitcom, has done no less than a dozen high-profile interviews in the
past week to complain. Seems the media can’t get enough of him. But are
they missing the bigger story?

And not without reason, as Poynter’s Julie Moos points out: “This is important industry news in Los Angeles and legitimate business news to anyone who cares about how Hollywood makes (or loses) money. It’s obviously celebrity news.” But isn’t it also about mental health and how we treat people struggling with illness?

But the interviewers and journalists covering the story, she notes, are largely sitting back and allowing Sheen to spew tons of those oh-so-quotable one-liners, leading New York Times’ NIcholas Kristof to tweet:

“If there’s anything that symbolizes the bankruptcy of TV news today, it’s the focus on Charlie Sheen.”

Moos writes:

“As my colleague Roy Peter Clark has written before — about saturation coverage of Tiger Woods and before that of Britney Spears — there is a third way to cover celebrities. Our choices are not limited to sensationalism or abstinence. We can cover the underlying issues surfaced by their situations, such as domestic violence and substance abuse.

“Such ‘collateral journalism moves us from chronicling celebrities’ high-profile struggles, which we do in abundance, to highlighting struggles of everyday Americans, which we don’t do enough.”