Celebrities provide break from hard news

What’s your news homepage look like? Probably a combination of tragedies in Ukraine and Syria, concerns about health care and celebrity news. Some don’t think that celebrity news fits on pages like Yahoo and USA Today — but they’re wrong.

Celebrity news isn’t about self-indulgence; it’s just the human interest story on the front page to balance the overload of negative news coverage from the rest of the world.

It’s not everyone’s favorite topic but it brings a much needed balance to news outlets; even the Olympics had hard and soft news. The first Google suggestion when searching human interest is now “Sochi’s best human interest stories really will restore your faith in humanity” published by the Guardian.

When there is so much more to report on the Olympic Games, why are there stories like these? Because there’s a need for it.

According to Gary Alan Fine and Ryan D. White of Northwestern University, human interest stories are important because of the collective attention they create that is essential for public interaction.

According to their paper, such stories encourage shared identification that is important for social cohesion and the maintenance of a public sphere, which fits for celebrity news. Whether people talk about their love or hate for a celebrity, it’s an easy dialogue that relates many people. It may not be the smartest of conversations but celebrity stories give people common ground to relate to one another and interact socially.

Celebrity news also plays a role of identifying role models in our society.

While many celebrities are considered far from role models, there are plenty of famous people getting covered in the news who do serve as great role models. Women like Sheryl Sandberg, Meryl Streep, Jessica Alba and even JK Rowling are some examples of positive influences in celebrity news and society. They are women who have their own businesses and created their own paths to the spotlight. According to the Pew Research Center, moms are the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. homes with children 18 years old or younger, so it is of value for young women to have role models while growing up.

Don’t get me wrong though; there are plenty of women who you wouldn’t want your young child to model his or herself after — Miley Cyrus — but you can’t characterize celebrity news only by the coverage you see on Miley Cyrus riding a hot dog. If that’s the only celebrity news you’re seeing, it’s because you’ve personally decided that it’s the only thing that counts as celebrity news. If you think about it, even Obama is considered a celebrity.

This type of news coverage acts as a point that society can converge on and create opinions that are free of heavy issues like religion or war. We’re surrounded by negative news from all outlets and celebrity news is the human side that reminds us that we are all people, we’re all connected and whether or not we can afford to wear Oscar de la Renta, it’s still a pretty dress to look at.