The Sideshow

Who's responsible for the tabloid-ification of America?

Jay Hart
The Sideshow

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A Miami Beach Police van carrying Justin Bieber leaves the police station taking him to jail. (Getty Images)

This just in: Media organizations are terrible.

Maybe you already knew that, and yes, I'm a part of the media, which aren't always bad. But when Andrea Mitchell — once a serious-as-a-heart-attack journalist — cuts off a former U.S. congresswoman for "breaking" Justin Bieber news, well, it's a sure sign that we've officially jumped the shark.

That really happened on Thursday on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports."

Now, don't take this as a slam on Mitchell. These days, not covering a Justin Bieber arrest, a Kardashian divorce or a Honey Boo Boo car accident is more the exception than the rule. Two years ago, the "Today" show trumped the annual moment of silence on Sept. 11 for a Kris Jenner interview. Thursday, CNN broadcast Bieber's bail hearing live, and on Friday night the network will air a Bieber introspective — "Justin Bieber's Wild Ride" — that will focus on the trials and tribulations of the 19-year-old pop whatever he is.

I'll admit it: For Yahoo, Bieber's arrest was one of our most-read stories on Thursday.

So yeah, we're all accomplices in the tabloid-ification of America — the whole lot of us. But here's the thing: You clicked on it! (And I'll readily admit I'm part of the "you.")

Ask yourself: Would you rather have heard Jane Harman wax on about the NSA scandal or what some Miami judge set Bieber's bail at?

For those who answered NSA, I've seen the traffic reports; most of you are not telling the truth.

Here's the thing: As want-to-be serious journalists, we love when you read our stories — the ones we want to write. And trust me, the kinds of stories we want to write don't have anything to do with Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian or Phil Robertson. But for every Prison Rodeo story we publish and are proud of — read it, it's fantastic — there are 50 Bieber stories that get read 10 times as much. So which stories should we cover and promote?

None of this is particularly new or profound. Newspapers have been fighting (and losing) this battle for years, and here at Yahoo we're constantly weighing "quality" stories, like this story on Apple's 1984 Super Bowl ad, vs. "easy" stories, like this story on the woman in Justin Bieber's Lamborghini.

The 1984 story: 413 comments; Bieber's passenger: 4,857.

You do the math.

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