When I argued in this post that the growing ability of anyone to grab a digital camera and follow politicians around is inevitably going to lead them to become more reclusive and programmed, some of the reaction I got took me to task for over-reacting. Politicians, after all, are well aware that someone is always watching and recording their every move – or at least it seems that way. Truth is, it wasn't always that way. There was a time when a candidate might tell a group of reporters an off-colored joke and have a good laugh and that would never be reported. Heck, the American people weren't even informed that their president used a wheelchair once upon a time.
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
The point is, the rules and media atmosphere has changed over time and politicians have learned how to use those changes to their advantage. How they will react to today's technology is the question. But something's going on in Hollywood that demonstrates the depth of change – TMZ. This celebrity gossip site has gotten a lot of attention this week for being the first to report details of actor Mel Gibson's arrest and the anti-Semitic rant he unleashed on a police officer.
What makes TMZ more than a mere gossip site though, is its use of original video. The Baltimore Sun's Abigail Tucker and Dan Thanh Dang take an in-depth look at how celebrities are having to learn to deal with this new media, noting:
Stars - and the print publications that cover them - are going to have to get used to TMZ.com and its cousins, which are making over the realm of celebrity gossip. These online outlets, some of them with major corporate funding, maintain deep contacts in the entertainment industry, stake out nightclubs and post news at breakneck speed. The reaction in the gossip trades to the Gibson story recalls the disbelief of political reporters in the late 1990s when Matt Drudge's Web site broke ground on the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The online revolution is reconfiguring all brands of journalism.