OhLook wrote in post #17465906
I think it's something else. If you study fiction, you soon find that a good plot includes conflict. Stories without conflict are simply not interesting. Some forms of story are exceptions, such as those that generate interest because they're metaphors for some universal human issue or they create tension by posing a question and waiting until the end to answer it. In general, however, conflict keeps the reader turning the pages. This doesn't mean that every interesting plot has characters fighting. One way, among several others, is to pit a protagonist against a difficult task. There don't have to be good guys and bad guys, but someone has to be trying to do something.
If everything is safe and clean and normal, there's nothing to see. We expect
things to be safe and clean and normal. Real-world events attract attention if they violate our expectations of good behavior and an orderly society. Stories about crimes and injustices do well on both counts. They arouse moral feelings, which may include disapproval of perpetrators and sympathy for victims. In a country that isn't at war, most people's daily lives don't include major surprises and big events that offer such sharply drawn opportunities to experience intuitions about right and wrong. We do it vicariously, using material from other people's lives.
The news has a lot of celebrity gossip. At least, online news sites are always telling me which actress is pregnant and which one is in rehab, as if I cared. It seems that many members of the public regard show-business people as larger-than-life figures or as the next thing to personal acquaintances, so the media keep reporting on entertainers, and all this reporting maintains the public's interest in entertainers.
I agree with you in general - although Fiction is Fiction and journalism is truth / history, and each quite a different animal (and I've been published in both fields) ... Fiction definitely requires conflict, or sacrifice, or overcoming aggressions, etc. -- it's why people read it. Journalism, on the other hand, happens whether we like it or not, and whether we agree with it or not ... But "the news" has become more like 'entertainment' than documenting history as it happens (unfortunately), and so it promotes other entertainers as 'news-worthy' and has slipped from it original mission.
Personally, I could care less about the 'stars' and who got who pregnant, and who slapped who in public or which politician smoked pot in college - and in fact believe most of it is made up, or made to be larger than it is with PR garbage. And, care less about the nastiness in city life as well. I enjoy films, and the stars when they are doing their jobs - entertaining - otherwise, I could care less about their personal lives - which are, as you state, larger than life, generally. But remember the greatest and best stars we hardly ever see "making news" -- Paul Newman comes to mind, Laurence Olivier -- never hit the highlights, and lived unobtrusive lives ... the 'stars' we see splashing in the news usually NEED that off-the-wall recognition because they are less astute in the 'job component' of it.
It's there, always will be, and showing it 'incidentally' on the news will never change it. Occasionally, one or another image will depict the epitome of a social injustice or momentous event - those will change lives in some demonstrable way ... unfortunately, most of those will illustrate destruction or tragedy - it's like a wake-up call to the world.
Some, of course, will illustrate success or a grand challenge overcome or achieved (Think Man first steps on the moon here) ... an amazing event, and stunning like no other achievement before its time. We need to remember too, many life-changing events have never been photographed (Columbus stepping first European foot on the North American continent (altho some believe he's not the first, and many made that journey prior to that famous 'historical' voyage. Leif Erickson (1003), for one, and we can't prove those events because no one captured it on film (or on anyway else except folks tales maybe)...
A million different news-worthy events occur every day, unfortunately, the one or two tragic events get the spotlight -- maybe changing that dynamic will change the world for the better some day. We hope.