The Grand Rapids Press and “The Bachelor”: This is News?

The Press has Run 24 Stories--Including 3 Front Page Stories--On The Bachelor

Since the New Year, the Grand Rapids Press has run a large number of stories on the television show “The Bachelor.” Hyping the fact that one of the contestants – Molly Malaney was from Grand Rapids (although she lived at the time in Milwaukee) – the Grand Rapids Press ran 24 stories on “The Bachelor.” Of those 24, 3 appeared on the front page of the newspaper.

Are we really supposed to believe that this is news? As the economy crumbles, while the planet heats up, while people freeze to death because they don’t have heat, and any number of daily horrors, the Press wants to tell us about “The Bachelor”? All of this comes at a time when the newspaper industry is facing declining readership. Apparently, the Press— which earlier this year trimmed parts of the paper in order to “stay in the game” and whose parent company Booth Newspapers continues to face economic difficulties–seems to think that “The Bachelor” will help its fortunes.

As would be expected, the coverage was “fluff”–stories covered the latest developments on the show, what previous contestants thought about it, and what the Press itself thought about the show. These articles–many of which ran in advance of the program–were essentially advertisements for the reality TV series.

the Grand Rapids Press also ran a number of stories reporting on a theory advanced by a blogger that the series finale would take an unexpected twist–Internet conspiracy theory as news. Beyond that, the Press printed a story about a “live blog” that it hosted on its website during the series finale, treating us to insights from folks going by the names “Sweet Tee” and “guiltywatcher.”

Press Editor Defends Decision

While the headlines (see below) and the coverage of “The Bachelor”–much of which hyped the show in advance of episodes or recapped the previous night’s episodes–are enough to make one sick, perhaps the worst part of the coverage was Grand Rapids Press Editor Mike Lloyd’s defense yesterday of the decision to put the finale on the front page.

In a 900+ word column titled “‘Bachelor’ and front page: A controversial match,” Mike Lloyd wrote that many readers had contacted the Press to express outrage that the television program received front page billing. Mike Lloyd also wrote that there was disagreement within the Press as to whether or not to place the story on the front page, but said that he made the decision himself:

“This front page call came from me. I’d never seen a whole show before, either, but I was among the millions of viewers Monday night. Start to finish. I watched, because at the center was a Grand Rapids girl. Tom’s “big deal” description doesn’t cover it. Comments pro or con are anecdotal and not scientific. But the numbers were overwhelming. the Press M-Live Internet site set records for hits, reader comments, unique browsers and return visitors. The papers featuring Molly on the front page showed increases over the same days the week before.

“The Bachelor” bump was huge.

It’s a great debate, but this was the right call.

See you at the wedding!”

So, in other words, if Internet visits are up, it’s worth it. I guess we can all expect more ongoing coverage–yippee.

All of the coverage of “The Bachelor” in the Grand Rapids Press–and the rest of the local media–is a good example of why alternative media is so important. If the Press wants to feed us fluff, it’s up to the rest of us to create alternative media structures that can publicize what really matters.

“The Bachelor” Headlines: This is News?

  • “Second time around – Ex-grand rapids woman vies for nod from jilted bachelor” – 01/04/09 – F1 (Entertainment) – 557 Words
  • “Local Reality” – 01/04/09 – F2 (Entertainment) – 513 Words
  • “GR’s Malaney advances on ‘Bachelor'” – 01/06/09 – B8 (Namedropping) – 102 Words
  • “Molly advances to ‘ Bachelor’ dozen” – 01/13/09 – B8 (Namedropping) – 83 Words
  • “Molly advances” – 01/20/09 – B6 (Namedropping) – 48 Words
  • “Molly gets good and campy with Jason – Time ‘alone together’ a good sign, indeed” – 01/27/09 – B1 (Your Life) – 468 Words
  • “Molly hangs on for G.R. date with Jason – They will hit Egypt Valley, then head to the JW” – 02/03/09 – B1 (Your Life) – 409 Words
  • “Romance in GR: Molly’s big date airs tonight – Egypt Valley and JW Marriott tout their woo factor” – 02/09/09 – A3 (City and Region) – 346 Words
  • “Molly, Jason click in ‘Bachelor’ GR visit” – 02/10/09 – B1 (Your Life) – 431 Words
  • “Fans feast on full plate of reality TV – As some shows wind down, others are cranking up” – 02/15/09 – F1 (Entertainment) – 994 Words
  • “Bachelor with tyke restores show’s luster” – 02/17/09 – B3 (Your Life) – 140 Words
  • “Grand Rapids native makes final two on ‘Bachelor’ – Bungee jumping gives Molly Malaney an edge” – 02/17/09 – B1 (Your Life) – 408 Words
  • “Molly in the middle of ‘Bachelor’ conspiracy theory – Spoiler alert! Blogger thinks he knows how it ends” – 02/19/09 – A1 (Front Page) – 733 Words
  • “Castoff contestant upbeat despite ‘broken heart’ – Jillian Harris disappointed, surprised at abrupt exit” – 02/23/09 – B1 (Your Life) – 516 Words
  • “‘Tell All’ lets jilted dates rehash ‘Bachelor,’ a la soaps – Web rumors involving Molly keep up the hype for finale” – 02/24/09 – B1 (Your Life) – 369 Words
  • “What you need to know about “‘The Bachelor'” – 03/01/09 – F1 (Entertainment) – 466 Words
  • “The players” – 03/02/09 – B1 (Your Life) – 129 Words
  • “Does ‘Bachelor’ backpedal on proposal?” – 03/02/09 – B1 (Your Life) – 977 Words
  • “Rose of sharing – Will Grand Rapids girl win heart of ‘the bachelor’?” – 03/02/09 – B1 (Your Life) – 61 Words
  • “Live blog adds to ‘Bachelor’ fun – Interactive watching is the new reality TV” – 03/03/09 – A5 (City and Region) – 348 Words
  • “Bachelor’s heart leads back to Molly – After proposing to Melissa, he decides that GR’s Malaney is the one he loves” – 03/03/09 – A1 (Front Page) – 608 Words
  • “Smitten Molly is moving to Seattle for Jason – In ‘Part 2’ show, Malaney said she ‘grilled him’ on flip-flop” – 03/04/09 – B1 (Your Life) – 293 Words
  • “Molly almost took ‘Bachelorette’ trail” – 03/05/09 – A2 (Namedropping) – 98 Words
  • “Molly and Jason, it has a nice ring – ‘Bachelor’ winner recounts journey from GR to fishbowl” – 03/06/09 – A3 (City and Region) – 470 Words
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Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org

4 thoughts on “The Grand Rapids Press and “The Bachelor”: This is News?”

  1. Great job, Ed! It was so good to see someone attack this unbelievable treacle head-on. Loved the recap of all the ridiculous headlines. These stories made it feel like the Press was morphing into Teen Beat magazine.

    And someone should tell Mike Lloyd that if the show was truly about a “Grand Rapids girl” snagging a man, it would have been a reality show about statutory rape charges. “Girls” don’t get married; women do.

  2. If popularity equals news, then Mr. Lloyd should review the “journalistic excellence” of the Sun. Just Google for “Page 3 girls”. Or perhaps “if it bleeds, it leads” is more to his liking.

  3. The editor’s defense of running the front page really irks me. If running a story on GR homeless families whose houses are in foreclosure doesn’t drum up a thousand comments and ten thousand hits on the Press’s web site, is it not worth covering? If a story about a naked man wearing only an eye patch running naked down Fulton spawns a heretofore unseen explosion in purchases of copies of the Press, does that mean it automatically gets the front page? Come on, Mike Lloyd

  4. The best part of this Media Mouse story is that on the same day you published this, The Grand Rapids Press had a front page story (quite large w/a photo and extending onto another page in Section “A”) on Barbie. That was followed by two large stories later in the paper.

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