Everybody's Theory of Journalism: An Anomaly

When you ask journalists what they do, they'll say that they report things that are out of the ordinary. When you ask media researchers what journalists do they'll say they report things that are out of the ordinary. This theory is so popular because it's largely correct. But.

The other day a paper informed me that the actress Megan Fox doesn't think she's particularly similar to Angelica Jolie. This is a recurring motive in journalism: Journalists describe X as the new Y, then journalists asks X whether s/he agrees, and Y says, nonono, I'm myself. As far as I can see, nobody ever says, "Yup, I'm the new Maradona" or, "Indeed, I think I'm the Marilyn Monroe for the Twitter generation." I can see why journalists might want to ask that question, because if someone actually agreed this would make reasonably interesting copy. But why do they report someone's totally ordinary response that she prefers to see herself as an individual?

This is not explained by the subject matter: Writers covering celebrities or football, too, usually report things that are out of the ordinary: There being no transfer talk about Lionel Messi or Jessica Alba not being pregnant is no news.

It's a mystery.

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