1st Edition

Journalism and Celebrity

By Bethany Usher Copyright 2021
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    This insightful book traces the development of journalism and celebrity and their relationship to and influence on political and social spheres from the beginnings of capitalist democracy in the 18th century to the present day.

    Journalism and Celebrity provides the first account of its kind, revealing the people, places, platforms, and production practices that created celebrity journalism culture, following its origins in the London-based press to its reinvention by the American mass media. Through a transdisciplinary approach to theory and method, this book argues that those who place celebrity in binary to what journalism should be often miss the importance of their mutual dependency in making our societies what they are.

    Including historical and contemporary case studies from the UK and US, this book is excellent reading for journalism, communication, media studies, and history students, as well as scholars in the fields of journalism, celebrity, cultural studies and political communication.


    1. Introduction

    2. Journalism and Celebrity during the Consumer Revolution and Bourgeois Public Sphere

    3. Celebrity and the New Journalism

    4. Acts of Consecration and Desecration: Journalism and 20th Century Stardoms

    5. Tabloids, Television and the Neoliberal Soap Opera

    6. The Story of the 21st Century: Networked Hyperconsumerism and Neopopulism and Applications of Journalism and Celebrity

    7. Conclusion: What to do?


    Dr Bethany Usher worked as a journalist for regional and then national tabloid newspapers before quitting industry and speaking out about some of the practices she encountered. She now leads postgraduate journalism provision at Newcastle University where her recent work has focused on the intercommunications between journalism, celebrity and politics and their societal and democratic impacts.

    Professor Graeme Turner, author of Understanding Celebrity.

    This is a highly distinctive and historically revisionist account of the relationship between journalism and celebrity. Drawing upon her personal experience as a reporter in the UK as she engages in a thoroughly critical manner with the research literature and media commentary, Bethany Usher presents an account of the role of celebrity within the news industry that is nuanced, thoughtful and compelling. Most importantly, she retrieves the category of the political as the third element required in any contemporary understanding of the cultural function of celebrity journalism. A most welcome and original contribution to the field. 

    Professor P. David Marshall, author of Celebrity and Power.

    Bethany Usher has produced a remarkable rewriting of how we understand the relationship between celebrity and journalism. With clarity of images, brilliant charts and deep research, she makes sense of the close relationship that the emergence of celebrity has had to both journalism and politics. Her insightful account maps this interweaving of ordinariness, visibility, political and moral value into the contemporary manifestations of new attack journalism and social media reconstructions of the public self. Her work builds to valuable claims about how journalism must understand its affinity with celebrity in our current world and negotiate a better role in this transformed era of "neo-populism", "panopticism" and "synopticism" that are part and parcel of our online culture constitutions of shared - sometimes "celebrified" - selves. 


    Professor Julian Petley, editor Journal of British Cinema and Television.

    We’re not short of books on celebrity, but what distinguishes Journalism and Celebrity is its focus both on journalism’s role in creating celebrity and the place of celebrity as a founding discourse of journalism. Refusing both populist and pessimistic approaches to the celebritisation of news, Bethany Usher takes a nuanced approach that stresses the need to understand the complex relations between celebrity, journalism and politics. This involves acknowledging and critiquing the worst tendencies of all three whilst at the same time exploring the elements of celebrity and its associated journalism that might contribute positively to the public sphere. The book combines an extremely well-informed historical sweep with a challenging and thought-provoking approach to its subject.