Should "News" Outlets Leave Britney Alone?

Over on Portƒolio.com, Jeff Bercovici writes about Asra Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and People contributor who thinks that responsible news organizations must lay off Britney Spears because she is mentally ill. "By exploiting Spears' moment of vulnerability, media companies have crossed the line of basic moral decency," wrote Ms. Nomani in an op-ed for the LA Times. Ms. Nomani, whose brother has been diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, suggests People, Page Six and everyone just stop. "Time Warner Inc., News Corp. and others should halt all coverage of Spears until she is healthy. Let's leave Britney and her family alone."

Ms. Nomani has also told her editor at People that she will no longer write for the magazine. Bercovici talked to Larry Hackett, the managing editor of the weekly magazine, who says not covering something is not what the press does: "I don't know of any examples where the media unilaterally says 'We will not cover this because we feel it's invasive.' I just don't know of any case where that's happened and where it's worked out."

He continues: "I think the story she's going through is something we can cover responsibly, at least at this stage, without knowingly and unquestionably contributing to her mental illness." And today, People.com has a story called "The Britney Effect: The Impact a Year After Her Buzz Cut," which revisits the salon where the pop star shaved her head, as well as the tattoo parlor she visited after her buzz cut. Invasive? Maybe not. But newsworthy?

Britney Spears, Mental Illness and the Tabloids [Portƒolio]
The Britney Effect: The Impact a Year After Her Buzz Cut [People]