Seeing journalism through the eyes of editor and columnist Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga has her paws in many projects – makeup endorsements, LGBT activism, a perfume deal and even a bracelet for sale that aids Japanese earthquake victims.

But now the pop phenomenon appears to be focused on journalism.

On Thursday, Metro, one of the world’s largest newspapers, announced that Lady Gaga would be guest-editing the newspaper on May 17. The editing gig is tied in with the May 23 release of her album “Born This Way.”

Lady Gaga will be the newspaper’s global guest-editor-in-chief. According to the newspaper’s website, she will edit editions that run in 100 cities in 20 countries from the London office of Metro World News, which is the paper’s central news desk.

Metro, published by a Swedish media company, is based in Luxembourg. A freesheet, it's aimed at a young, metropolitan audience that consists of more than 20 million daily readers.

“Lady Gaga is an extraordinary force, and we’re both excited to explore the issues of equality and human rights affecting our readers and Gaga fans,” said Maggie Samways, executive vice president and global editor-in-chief in a press release. “I’m confident that the edition will reflect her personality: creative, inspiring — and surprising!”

Guest editorships are nothing new.

U2’s Bono edited Britain’s “The Independent” in 2006, and the next year he edited Vanity Fair’s Africa issue. In 2007, actor and activist George Clooney guest-edited “The Independent.” In 2008, singer James Blunt edited an edition of Metro International and Arianna Huffington was a guest editor for the newspaper in 2009.

But Lady Gaga isn’t stopping with Metro.

She is taking a cue from Bono, who wrote columns in 2009 for “The New York Times.” Lady Gaga will begin writing columns for fashion glossy “V Magazine.”

In March, she tweeted to her nine million Twitter followers “I begin next month as a Fashion+Art Columnist for @VMagazine.” She tweeted this week “Just turned in my first memorandum as a columnist to my editor at V Magazine! How fabulous. Feel like the punk piss-off Carrie Bradshaw.” The magazine calls Lady Gaga’s columns an “editorial window into her fashion multiverse.”

Her first column appears in the magazine’s May issue.

Lady Gaga describes the new Polaroid GL30 instant digital camera during the Consumer Electronics Show, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011 in Las Vegas. Lady Gaga is Polaroid's creative director. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Lady Gaga has also teamed up with Polaroid as the company’s creative director. In January, the pair unveiled the Polaroid Grey Label, an original line of products co-designed with Lady Gaga. The products include THE GL10 Instant Mobile Printer, THE GL30 Instant Digital Camera and the GL20 Camera Glasses.

If anything, she is seizing new journalism and social media with a vengeance and encourages her Little Monsters (as her fans are called) to do the same.

For the V Magazine announcement, Lady Gaga and the magazine are holding a contest for her fans to illustrate the image that will run alongside her column. With the announcement of the Metro guest editorship, the newspaper is holding a contest for a reader to work as her editorial assistant in London. The contest challenges readers to write what makes them “Born This Way.”

“Let’s see how fans would define what ‘Born This Way’ is for them,” Lady Gaga said in a release. “I say I was born to be brave. That’s part of my mission in life. I was born to follow my artistic visions. Look into yourself. Are you born to be brave?”

Her project with Polaroid also encourages creativity.

“It [the Grey Label label] represents Polaroid innovation for the new generation, one in which there are no limitations to sharing creativity through photography, both physical and digital,” Polaroid President Scott W. Hardy said in a January press release.

As Lady Gaga takes her celebrity into the worlds of journalism and photography, does it bring cachet to a struggling and confused industry that might need a tad of glamour and inspiration? She certainly has encouraged her fans to blog, create videos and design costumes.

In the 1970s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein inspired a generation to major in journalism and become investigative reporters. Andy Warhol, too, inspired music and art writers with his endeavor -- Interview Magazine. Could Lady Gaga awaken her young fans to 21st century journalism?

“In some sense [it’s] too soon to ask since Lady Gaga has not yet written anything [that has been] published,” says Dr. Mathieu Deflem, a professor who teaches a course about Lady Gaga at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

“But I assume her musings will be primarily about fashion or music, issues she knows about,” he adds. “As a lyricist also, writing for publications is not too much of a stretch really. Possibly she may bring in some of her philosophy and politics. I suspect her fans will connect with the issues she will write about. Should her writing draw her fans to writing (and thinking, a not useless precondition), I'm all for it.”

Correction: This article originally had Dr. Mathieu Deflem teaching at the wrong school.


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