On, I wrote about how David Little at the Chico Enterprise-Record issued a decree in his January 20 column declaring that Britney Spears would go unmentioned for at least an entire month in the newspaper's print publication. After salvaging my e-mail from quarantine (neither one of us have any idea why my e-mail ended up marked), David wrote back Thursday night to share the news that the Britney Blackout has been extended for another month. He attached a section of the e-mail he sent out to his staff announcing the decision.
I doubt any of you had this written on your calendar, but the E-R's Britney Blackout ends today. Except it doesn't end. Nobody has canceled their newspaper. Not one person has even called or written to complain. And yet approximately 50 people have called, written or told me personally that they are glad we're doing this. ... Anyway, we're going to do this for another month. Of course, we won't be able to announce that in the newspaper because that would violate our no-BS ban. So we'll quietly continue to keep any mention of Britney out of the newspaper. Not even any secondary references in unrelated stories. Nothing. Not even a mention if she storms the stage at the Oscars on Sunday and, in a drunken stupor, pulls a Janet Jackson. Nothing. I want to thank everybody for seeing the fun in this, but also for seeing the ethical side of this as well. DavidI spoke to David via telephone on Friday and asked him if there was anything that would prompt him to break the "no-BS ban," and although he was hesitant to acknowledge any situation in which he'd do so, it did appear that a story that would mandate coverage by his paper involving "any given person" would probably still make it in the paper, Little just seemed determined not to include any Britney coverage for the sake of it being "BS." Of course, although his public ban on Britney deserves to be acknowledged, it appears that the Enterprise-Record has always been a voice of moderation when it comes to Britney and the various other A-list and B-list celebrities who continue to dominate so much of the media's coverage. In fact, after searching through the archives at the paper, I discovered that the E-R has only mentioned the words "Britney Spears" in 12 articles over the past two years. David indicated that the print edition probably included Britney news from AP only every month or so, so perhaps his Britney ban really isn't as meaningful as it might first appear. As David points out, it's pretty easy for him, in a market more than 500 miles from the entertainment epicenter, to ignore the media behemoth that is Britney Spears. His readers don't turn to the E-R for news about what people are wearing in Los Angeles. They seek out the Enterprise-Record to find out what's happening in their community. Still, David's decision not to follow the rest of the media around like lemmings and report on everything Britney has generated a significant amount of attention, and rumor has it that people at other newspapers have responded positively to David's small but honorable stand. Maybe it won't change history, but perhaps a no-Britney meme is beginning to percolate. Not that I feel the media has any sort of obligation to turn its back and ignore Britney Spears. But, I do feel that the media certainly doesn't have a duty to pry so deeply to expose a woman who is clearly going through a rough time in her life. I asked David about this, and we both seemed to agree that perhaps there is a level of self-restraint that the media should consider as its members continue to pursue celebrities using approaches more fit for a stalker than a member of the press.