Paris the Thought: A.P. Says Au Revoir to Hilton Hottie
On Feb. 13, the Associated Press declared its plans to boldly go where few wire services would dare to go in this day and age: the no–Paris Hilton zone.
“Next week,” entertainment editor Jesse Washington wrote in an e-mail memo obtained by The Transom, “the print team is planning an unconventional experiment: We are NOT going to cover Paris Hilton.
“Barring any major, major news, we are not going to put a single word about Paris on the wire,” the memo continued. “If something does come up, big or small, we encourage discussions on whether we should write about it.”
The results of the experiment, naturally, will be fodder for a future A.P. story. “Hopefully we will be able to discuss what ‘news’ we missed,” read the memo, which could have used some stern copy-editing, “the repercussions of our blackout for AP both editorially and business-wise, and most importantly the force that cause the world to be fixated on this person who, despite her shallow frivolity, represents an epochal development in our culture.”
Reached for comment, Mr. Washington said, “There was a surprising amount of hand-wringing. A lot of people in the newsroom were saying this was tampering with the news.” One editor’s response was apparently: “This is a great idea—can we add North Korea?”
Mr. Washington said he was inspired by the fact that, in the past year, Ms. Hilton has appeared on the A.P. wire about twice a week.
“We got lucky,” he said. “Totally by accident, her birthday party was the day before we started the experiment. There really weren’t any major news stories involving Paris, so we didn’t have that many really tough decisions to make.” Though “her name did pop up in a couple stories, despite my best efforts.”