Professor Paris Hilton Teaches Media

I have been as amazed as you most likely are about the clinic Paris Hilton is putting on for the media business.

It's true that sites like Perez Hilton and TMZ live another day just to cover celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and the like screwing up. Online, their readers come and go as their interest ebbs and flows. You can never get too much Paris Hilton coverage if you're the one clicking for more.

What you may not be seeing is how Paris Hilton is teaching the traditional media business all about its destructive bad self.

Except, the media business is not listening.

NBC News says it won't cover such tripe. Then it does. Even Brian Williams winds up with egg on his face.

CBS News promises to stay away from all things Paris, but the lure of everyone is doing it was much too much. They, too, gave in.

Forget the local news. Most young people have. No one can seem to find anything worth watching on local TV news so why not put Paris Hilton's plight on the screen. Forget the local angle. Paris is everyone's girl.

Radio doesn't do news. Oops.

Newspapers think they cover news but only a handful really do.

So what is Professor Paris Hilton teaching us?

That while she has little talent, neither do we if we can't discern the difference between a story that needs telling and an event that isn't a story. You could argue that the dispute between the judge in the case and the sheriff is news. Okay, is it a lead story?

Professor Hilton whether she knows it or not (and I suspect not) is telling us be careful what you create in the media because you may become the same thing.

We may become her.

No talent. No reason for being.

That is, if Paris Hilton is a meaningless hotel heiress who is covered in the popular media then be careful what you cover because you may soon become as inconsequential as the stories you broadcast.

We know why Barbara Walters panders to her.

Do we know what we've become?

I have a tendency to be overly nostalgic -- I admit it and if I didn't many of you have already pointed that shortcoming out to me.

But this is where I don't miss radio.

I don't miss television.

I don't miss newspapers.

I want my Paris Hilton news online (if I want it at all).

I'm getting demanding like the next generation. I want what I want when I want it. Damn it.

The Internet is becoming a main way we get our legitimate news and it is perfect for puff news stories. When you're in the mood for Nicole Richie anorexia jokes and pictures, you're only a mouse click away.

If you want politics, there are bloggers, reporters, publications -- all available until you get carpal tunnel.

Just at a time when the public has unprecedented access to choice -- the ability to turn you off and still get what they want -- the media business has become the ghost of newscasts past -- a buffoon, if you will.

Just when traditional media could help set the course for the future, it tries to act like the Internet without a mouse.

I think if Paris Hilton taught media she would say "don't cover me". The publicity hound that she is would even say, leave me be at The Simple Life. At least The Simple Life is reality TV. That's more than you can say for media coverage of Paris Hilton and friends -- there is nothing real about them. Little that deserves serious coverage.

Nothing is more embarrassing than the media business this past week in its widespread, unremarkable coverage of a little hotel heiress who doesn't matter.

Global warming, arguably.

Iraq, certainly.

The economy, yes.

Politics, government, scandal, safety, war -- yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

Local -- absolutely yes.

The Internet isn't killing the media business. It is saving us from it.