Ian Monk: Goody's tragic tale sets press agenda

The Jade Goody story is used as proof of different things by different people. While it has made many perceptions of her more favourable, the dying agonies of the reality TV celebrity have prompted other more critical viewpoints.

Goody’s sadly imminent death prevents open public discussion for fear of appearing insensitive.

However, the torrent of coverage driven by Goody’s journey along her own Via Dolorosa highlights the fact that modern media are now capable of creating and sustaining a news event that dominates agenda.

Against a backdrop of world recession, political shifts, global frauds and the Oscars, Goody – whose public persona was born out of the Endemol Big Brother womb – is everywhere.

Newspapers, celebrity magazines and popular TV are dwelling on every last drop of her human anguish. She is boosting sales in a way Princess Diana used to do.

The supposedly higher-minded media elements – broadsheet newspapers, the BBC’s Ten O’Clock News and Newsnight – are resorting to their old trick of creating issue-led pieces that, ultimately, draw as relentlessly as any coverage on the human misery.

Online the story creates record traffic. Government at the highest level is driven by the Jade agenda. How ironic that Gordon Brown, supposedly the high-minded antidote to Blair’s televisual populism, should need to make public statements empathising with her.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw wades in to seize his share of headlines by waiving the curfew on Jade’s criminally convicted spouse for their wedding night.

The media juggernaut rolls on with a raised awareness of the need for cervical smear tests and speculation as to whether she will die on TV.

Goody epitomises the age of celebrity and the symbiotic power it lends the media. A media creation, she will live on in its coverage as the celebrity world’s Princess of Hearts. Her story marks the moment the medium, with its ability to create society’s agenda, truly became the message. 

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