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Is Taylor Swift the Front Door to Deeper News/Talk Conversations?

She’s in the luxury box, she’s on the field, and she’s on TV. She’s all over Instagram, X, and TikTok. And now she’s naked on your computer screen! Truth be told, I didn’t even try and chase down the deep fake AI-generated photos of Taylor Swift. It just felt too dirty, if even under the guise of journalism.

I will simply trust that they were explicit and bad.

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Having said that, maybe even without seeing them, the topic is a perfect example of something that may seem like it had jumped the shark but may actually be good for radio — beyond the obvious reasons.

The obvious reasons: Swift is, perhaps, the biggest star on the planet right now — a billionaire entertainer who fills stadiums from Boston to Buenos Aires. Whether people love her or love to hate her, they’re talking about her.

On one side, this little love affair with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has divided America as only Donald Trump and Joe Biden could. Is she corrupting football or bringing a whole new audience to the game? But then … Maybe, it’s ok for someone in the band to date a football player – and vice versa. Maybe dogs and cats can live together.

Ultimately, the question is: Should we really be talking about this on the radio? I mean, it’s not the first time racy, fake pictures have popped up on the web. Sometimes, we don’t even make as big a deal when the images are REAL that pop on the web.

That’s where we go beyond the obvious reasons to talk about Taylor Swift, football, and racy/fake photos.

Beyond the obvious reasons: The topic of her stardom, those photos, and the ensuing hysteria is a actually dynamic and deeper news story that involves technology, the law, and government oversight.

For starters, some basic questions as you consider what to talk about and whom you should interview.

Is making up fake explicit photos illegal? If so, what branch of law enforcement deals with it? How do you even find the culprits? Is there any legal precedent for this stuff? Was it OK for X to ban searches of Taylor Swift? How do they even do that? Will government pass laws on this now that a major star has been impacted on a global scale?

All legitimate, non-clickbait questions.

This story isn’t really about appealing to a younger audience by talking about Taylor Swift. It combines media integrity, artificial intelligence, and the law – all major and serious topics right now.

Over the weekend, someone on our team reached out on our group text and wondered if we were getting a guest on this story. To be honest, whether it was me unplugging for the weekend or me becoming increasingly clueless, I didn’t know the story and had to look it up. For that reason, I didn’t make much of it (If it was that big, wouldn’t I have seen it?) nor did I want to interrupt anyone’s weekend to ask if they’d get up extra early on a Monday morning to discuss it.

As I read more and thought more about it, I realized that this kind of issue will be coming up a lot as we get deeper into this electronic vortex of artificial intelligence.

All those questions you see above popped into my head, so the debate moved beyond whether we should talk about it, but rather, who we should book for the discussion.

I went from not wanting to talk about it at all to having guests on successive days.

Monday: Tech guy to talk about who does these things and why, while also addressing the progression of this sort of stuff on social media.

Tuesday: Lawyer to discuss precedent, who investigates (if anyone), and what avenues there are for average people to go down if they are similarly wronged in the digital world.

Wednesday: Politician to tell us what, if anything, the government can do to deter people or businesses from using AI and deep fakes to mess with the world.

Yes, the Taylor Swift football fan/girlfriend story is a bit tired, but the other elements that may come along – maybe tomorrow it’s about another tangential issue – should not be ignored just because the campy, sometimes cringeworthy public romance is annoying.

Brian Shactman
Brian Shactman
Brian Shactman is a weekly columnist for Barrett News Radio. In addition to writing for BNM, Brian can be heard weekday mornings in Hartford, CT on 1080 WTIC hosting the popular morning program 'Brian & Company'. During his career, Brian has worked for ESPN, CNBC, MSNBC, and local TV channels in Connecticut and Massachusetts. You can find him on Twitter @bshactman.

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