Friday, April 22, 2016

A matter of news judgment: Whose celebrity death matters more? Does Trump get trumped by Prince?

As someone approaching the three-decade mark of having worked in the news business, news judgment at times becomes second nature. As routine as watching a quality shortstop gobble up ground balls even if they took a bad hop off a pebble.

Purple Rain tops Playboy ...
But there are times when the calls made by editor types create some unique circumstances.

WHEN I WOKE up Thursday morning and checked around the Internet, it seems that the potential was for a celebrity death to dominate the nation’s news reports. Joanie Laurer, a.k.a. Chyna, was found dead in her Los Angeles-area apartment

She was a part of the crew of the World Wrestling Federation of old, and gave off the impression of a semi-attractive woman who was so muscular that there was no doubt she was capable of beating the caca out of anybody who messed with her.

Now I was never much of a fan of professional wrestling. But my brother, Christopher, was. He acknowledged the “fake” status of wrestling – not really a sport, but instead an overly-physical show in which the “entertainers” do their own stunts.

And to help enhance those stunts, she wasn’t shy about admitting her use of steroid substances that bolstered her muscular bulk.

QUITE THE FREAK show, and one that I’m sure some people remember fondly. Enough that I’m pretty sure they were pissed when later Thursday morning publicists for the entertainer Prince (a.k.a. Prince Rogers Nelson) announced that he was dead.

Found at his home near Minneapolis, a city of which he was a native.
... in terms of topping Prince over Chyna.

Chyna might have gone on to appear in movies and do a spread for Playboy magazine. But it seems the film “Purple Rain” and the song “1999” are a longer-lasting legacy than the sight of a scantily-clad Chyna whom not even Hugh Hefner would publish these days (because we’re really supposed to read Playboy for the articles these days).

Prince wound up being the big celebrity death. Chyna quickly got relegated to second-class status, and I’m curious to see how her death actually gets played in the Friday newspapers.

I WONDER IF we’ll get the same type of sniping as occurred back on May 17, 1990. That was the day after both Jim Henson (the Muppets creator) and Rat Pack singer Sammy Davis, Jr., died.

Many newspapers (including the Chicago Tribune) took their share of grief for thinking that creating characters such as Kermit the Forg and Big Bird was more important than singing “The Candyman” or being Frank Sinatra’s party buddy.

Personally, I don’t think Chyna or Prince would top either Davis or Henson on the overall society contribution checklist. But obituary placements often are a matter of timing.

Chyna might have got bigger overall play if Prince’s publicists had had the decency (some might think) to hold off another day in announcing his death – which came just a few days after reports of his emergency hospitalization in the Quad Cities.

I’M SURE SOME people are going to want to take on a “conspiracy theory” mode in thinking that something suspicious exists about the singer’s death.

Now some might think this is celebrity overplay. Although I have to admit those deaths do catch a certain level of interest that the rest of the news report fails to do with its presidential campaign obsessions.
Trump's appeal isn't orange, it's green

As I look at the newspapers in front of me, I see the lede story headlines of “Trump Stumps in Indy” (say that three times quickly) and “Russia Expands Submarine Fleet, Fueling Rivalry.” The latter came from the New York Times, which relegated their Trump-related story to Page Three. Although that story told us of the potential for the upcoming Indiana primary elections (May 3) could be the ones that make it inevitable that The Donald will be the Republican presidential nominee.

As far as I’m concerned, that is all the more reason to think there’s something funky in the polluted part of Lake Michigan water that those Hoosiers are consuming in the land east of State Line Road!


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