News morphing into entertainment


Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley was arrested along with 27 other people after protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline on Oct. 10, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in North Dakota. The protest, Standoff at Standing Rock, gathered 200 people who attempted to create a blockade on the pipeline’s construction sites.

The pipeline is in the process of being built on grounds considered sacred by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. There is also a fear that the pipeline will create contamination of water via fossil fuels.

Woodley, along with the other protestors, were met with armed police officers in large trucks. Although there was no violence at the event and protestors left the land when asked, Shailene among 27 others were arrested.

Woodley was targeted specifically for her arrest due to her Facebook live stream. Approximentally 40,000 viewers were watching the event live off of Woodley’s Facebook page.

Woodley pleaded not guilty to criminal trespass and rioting charges.

Most news sources, aside from news dedicated to strictly Hollywood entertainment, failed to report the event until days after and, for some, even a week after.

Woodley expressed her concern in a penned article in TIME magazine.

“It took me, a white non-native woman being arrested on Oct. 10th in North Dakota, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, to bring this cause to many people’s attention. And to the forefront of news publications around the world,” Woodley wrote.

Woodley elevates an important notion: News media often do not cover stories that are vital for the public to know about. It should not take a celebrity to make a topic important. News media should be advocating for the public, for rights of the people, to create an informed society.

It should not take a celebrity to make a topic important. News media should be advocating for the public, for the rights of the people, to create an informed society.

Modern journalism and mainstream news media are quickly approaching a territory that is motivated by money. News outlets are businesses, but what about ethics? What about stories that matter? Although reporters and editors commonly choose stories that sell airtime or print editions – which in itself is not bad, far too often are necessary topics of debate pushed aside.

With the changing platform of news, it is difficult to get readers and viewers attention; however, maybe the public doesn’t care because they aren’t informed or people feel like things don’t impact them.

In Woodley’s Facebook video, as she is walking away, handcuffed and escorted by officers, she shouts backward to her mom who is holding her phone. “I hope you’re watching mainstream media.” Woodley’s statement highlights the need for media to focus on topics that impact the environment, cultures and society, such as the pipeline.

News outlets could do a better job at gearing the topic of stories to the issue, such as contaminated water, opposed to the “gossip” or “selling point,” such as Woodley.

Journalism is changing, but that doesn’t mean the integrity, wit and depth of journalism have to.