Go to VOANews.com’s sports page and you will see several stories about Tiger Woods, the star golfer who had a mysterious auto accident outside his Florida home and subsequently admitted to unspecified "transgressions". The admission came amid published allegations that he had extramarital affairs.
The Woods story has dominated the news media. On Google’s new search yesterday, there were nearly 4,000 articles – and not all of them from American media outlets. There were items from India and Ireland, Australia, Canada and Britain, just to mention a few foreign news sources.
VOA editors have discussed the issue of global interest in Tiger Woods and their responsibilities in handling the story.
Like other organizations, there are various camps here: those who say that the golfer is entitled to some privacy, and others who say that as a public figure, anything he is involved in is open to coverage. Some say there is no interest in the story in certain foreign markets. Others say it’s an aspect of American life but needs to be treated as part of a bigger issue – like ‘why are people interested in celebrities’ or ‘why do public figures get involved in sex scandals’ or, simply, ‘what is it about the Tiger story that captivates audiences?’
Listening to the discussion, I had to think about something Time magazine’s James Poniewozik wrote in a blog post this week: about watching “the contortions the respectable media go through” to try to justify covering a hot topic “while appearing to be serious-minded, and not like all those other outlets just trying to pry into Tiger Woods’ personal life.”
He says such justifications are unlikely to help the mainstream media: “What these half-measures do, more than anything, is convey the sense that the mainstream media is phony, inauthentic, that it lacks the courage of its convictions either to go all in and give the public what it wants, or take a bullet and stick to its principles. Trying to please everyone, it pleases no one.”
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