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Kenneth Cleaver 

Consumer Correspondent

Kenneth H. Cleaver

P.O. Box 810

Bedford, NY 10506

January 7, 2004

Mr. Jeffrey Dvorkin

Ombudsman

National Public Radio

635 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.

Washington, DC 20001

Dear Mr. Dvorkin:

Many listeners might praise NPR for resisting the widespread practice of celebrity journalism. But not me.

Just so we're clear, by celebrity journalism I'm not referring to journalists -- like, say, NPR's Cokie Roberts -- who exploit their celebrity by whoring themselves as corporate guest speakers for $20,000 a pop. Rather, I'm referring to coverage of celebrities that masquerades as news.

However, I think we can agree that not all celebrity journalism is the same. There's the paparazzi-styled stalking of E's Celebrities Uncensored; entertainment infomercials packaged as nightly news (Entertainment Tonight), and glossy magazines that inform us how Reese Witherspoon's parenting-vs.-career dilemma means she's just like you, but a lot prettier (People, US Weekly). Last but not least is the high-end literary celeb journalism found in Esquire, Details, and, of course, Hollywood's monthly hagiography, Vanity Fair.

I think it's quite possible for NPR to find its way into this wide spectrum of coverage. By focusing on celebrity breakups, fashion gaffes and political foibles, NPR wouldn't have to sacrifice the smug, pedantic tenor its listeners know and love.

By failing to cover celebrities, NPR is snubbing its nose at the millions of Americans who are more interested in the failed marriage of Nicole Kidman than the failing presidential bid of John Kerry. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Cleaver

Click here to read Mr. Dvorkin's response

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