News vs. Neckties

BY CASSANDRA LITTLEWOOD                                                                                                                               ONLINE CONTRIBUTOR

5a641d365dc50004af0f86f39205f6cdImage via Confined Light

You’re rushing to the scene of a crime to find out the facts surrounding the case. Now you’re interviewing members of a community that have been faced with human rights injustices. Then you’re sitting in a press conference, as a political leader makes an address that everyone has been waiting for. All in a day’s work as a hard-hitting journalist right?

This is our very classic and somewhat stereotypical view of a journalist’s daily life. But there’s another side of journalism that is not often thought of in the same light as the breaking news articles popping up on our feeds.

What about the journalists that answer questions like, “What should I read this summer?” or “What sunscreens are actually worth buying?” or “How do I make sure I sext safely?” While many people will associate journalism with hard-hitting news and political content, many people forget the writers that answer these questions are journalists too, and are just as important to our media landscape.

These two types of content are often pitted against each other and usually the news side is more validated then the lifestyle side. Many perceive lifestyle and culture writing as frivolous and not serious. However, culture writing covers what we consume everyday, and furthermore, puts it under a microscope and questions it. This subsequently makes readers question their culture as well.

On July 14, 2017, Toronto’s FLARE covered Shia LaBeouf’s recent arrest and used it as an opportunity to not only give the facts of the arrest but also to discuss LaBeouf’s attempt to use white privilege as a (literal) get out of jail free card. While this article could have taken the simple route and given only the facts on yet another celebrity arrest, the author decided to go another direction and discuss the larger issues that were at play. It is in this way that covering celebrity culture is not always a play by play of celebrities’ movements. Our reaction to celebrities and their actions often allow us to examine our own values and mainstream thought.

Now, you may be asking, “Well, what about content that covers fashion trends and makeup? How is finding the ‘best mascara’ important?” This again, goes back to how it is covered. If the media depicts fashion trends on guys who enjoy fashion, those men will feel more included in the conversation. If the media depicts a makeup tutorial that features makeup for darker skin tones (in a world where makeup needs to be more diversified) those individuals feel more included in the conversation.

All in all, fashion and beauty are daily concerns of many individuals. Makeup, clothes, relationships are facets of life that individuals deal with everyday. People are concerned with these areas and therefore, they are important to cover.

In the past and today, concerns about makeup and fashion were predominately concerns of women. As we know, concerns of women have not been treated fairly and were often seen as frivolous concerns. This perception STILL exists today that women cannot be concerned about the healthcare system AND about dressing fashionably for work. I don’t know how many times I’ve physically seen men’s opinion of me go down when they hear that I have an interest in fashion. The belief that fashion and beauty are not serious has long been used as a way to invalidate the experiences of the woman and sadly, has yet to cease in terms of how we see media outlets who predominately cover these topics.

Coverage that looks at relationships, beauty, and fashion are all very valuable topics in journalism. They have the ability to address larger issues in society and make people of different identities better represented in mainstream conversations and validate their concerns. So YES, we need journalists at crucial press conferences but we also need journalists covering relationship and makeup advice- if the writing is making a positive difference, why stigmatize one?