News

Will we always have Paris? AP tried to find out

So you may have heard: Paris Hilton was ticketed the other day for driving with a suspended license.

Not huge news, even by celebrity-gossip standards. Here at The Associated Press, we put out an initial item of some 300 words. But it actually meant more to us than that.

It meant the end of our experimental blackout on news about Paris Hilton.

It was only meant to be a weeklong ban — not the boldest of journalistic initiatives, and one, we realized, that might seem hypocritical once it ended. And it wasn’t based on a view of what the public should be focusing on — the war in Iraq, for example, or the upcoming election of the next leader of the free world, as opposed to the doings of a partygoing celebrity heiress/reality TV star most famous for a grainy sex video.

No, editors just wanted to see what would happen if we didn’t cover this media phenomenon, this creature of the Internet gossip age, for a full week. After that, we’d take it day by day. Would anyone care? Would anyone notice? And would that tell us something interesting?

  • Slideshow Photos

    Matt Sayles / AP

    Paris Hilton

    Paris Hilton

    The highs and lows of the life of the hotel heiress.

  • Image: Paris Hilton Promotes Her New Show "The World According To Paris" At Kitson At Santa Monica Place

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Back to reality

    Paris Hilton promotes her new docu-series on Oxygen, "The World According to Paris," at Kitson at Santa Monica Place in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 27, 2011.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: The World According to Paris

    Paris Hilton

    of

    The ruff stuff

    Hilton is pictured with a tiny dog in her show "The World According to Paris."

    Oxygen / Oxygen
  • Image: The Tonight Show With Jay Leno

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Quick entry

    Hilton arrives onstage on a motorcycle for a taping of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" at the NBC Studios oin Burbank, Calif., on May 27, 2011.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of Oxygen's New Docu-Series "The World According To Paris" - Arrivals

    Paris Hilton

    of

    The gang's all here

    Hilton, left, joins her parents Kathy Hilton and Rick Hilton and sister Nicky Hilton at the premiere of "The World According to Paris" at Tropicana Bar at The Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles on May 17, 2011.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Josh Duhamel & American Red Cross' "Run For Red Cross/Japan"

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Footwork for charity

    Hilton, second from left, and her sister Nicky take part in the Josh Duhamel and American Red Cross "Run For Red Cross/Japan" in Santa Monica, Calif., on March 27, 2011.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Paris Hilton

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Well heeled celebrity

    Hilton displays shoe models from her new collection during a news conference in Mexico City on March 30, 2011. Hilton was in Mexico to promote her new collection.

    AP / AP
  • Image: Paris Hilton

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Special protection

    Hilton arrives at the 18th annual Race to Erase MS Gala in Los Angeles on April 29, 2011. The event benefits the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis.

    AP / AP
  • Image: Cy Waits, Paris Hilton

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Too close for comfort

    Cy Waits, , left, boyfriend of Hilton, reacts as he is grabbed by an assailant while walking toward a court appearance with the heiress in Los Angeles on April 27, 2011. An unidentified man was restrained by Hilton's bodyguards and detained.

    AP / AP
  • Image: Paris Hilton, David Chesnoff

    Paris Hilton

    of

    More trouble behind her

    Hilton talks with her attorney, David Chesnoff, before her hearing in Clark County court in Las Vegas on Sept. 20, 2010. Hilton pleaded guilty to reduced charges in her August cocaine arrest. Under the terms of a plea deal worked out with prosecutors, the heiress will serve a year of probation and avoid a felony conviction.

    AP / AP
  • Image: Paris Hilton

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Mug for the cameras

    Hilton is shown in a booking photo released Aug. 28, 2010, by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department after being arrested on drug charges.

    Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP / Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP
  • Image: Paris Hilton,Cy Waits

    Paris Hilton

    of

    What a Tease

    Hilton and boyfriend Cy Waits attend the launch of her fragrance Tease at MyStudio in Hollywood, Calif., on Aug. 10, 2010.

    AP / AP
  • Paris Hilton

    Paris Hilton

    of

    'Paris, Not France'

    Hilton's life is examined in the 2009 documentary "Paris, Not France," a 68-minute film that chronicles Hilton's much-publicized professional successes and personal struggles. Hilton is the great-granddaughter of Hilton Hotels founder Conrad Hilton.

    AP / AP
  • Paris Hilton

    Paris Hilton

    of

    See you in court

    In July 2009, Hilton found herself in federal court in Miami, accused of failing to adequately promote her 2006 movie, "Pledge This!" The actress insisted she did her job.

    AP / AP
  • Paris Hilton

    of

    Seeking a Middle Eastern pal

    Dressed in traditional Middle Eastern style, Hilton attended a press conference promoting her reality show, "Paris Hilton's Dubai BFF." In the show, the heiress searches for a friend in the Middle East.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Paris Hilton, Doug Reinhardt

    Paris Hilton

    of

    You smell good

    Hilton and then-boyfriend Doug Reinhardt attended the 37th annual FiFi awards, honoring those in the fragrance industry, in May 2009. The couple broke up in June after six months of dating.

    AP / AP
  • Paris Hilton

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Not 'Hottie' at the box office

    Hilton starred with Joel David Moore in the 2008 romantic comedy,"The Hottie and the Nottie." The film, which was a major box office disaster and received extremely negative reviews from critics, won Hilton the 2009 Razzie Award for worst actress and worst screen couple with Moore.

    Regent Releasing via AP / Regent Releasing via AP
  • Paris Hilton Records Music Video

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Vote for me

    During the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain likened then-Sen. Barack Obama to Hilton as far as celebrity status. Hilton responded with a spoof video, "Paris for President," in which she called McCain old and wrinkly and announced her own presidential campaign.

    SwagHouse Media via Getty Images / SwagHouse Media via Getty Images
  • Paris Hilton leaves the Los Angeles County Correctional Facility in Lynwood, California

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Free at last

    Paris Hilton leaves the Los Angeles County Correctional Facility in Lynwood, Calif., on Tuesday, June 26. 2007. Hilton, who commanded as much attention behind bars as on the Hollywood party scene, regained her freedom after serving three weeks in jail for violating probation in a drunk-driving case.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Paris Hilton, Rick Hilton

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Do not pass go

    Hilton leaves the Los Angeles Municipal Court Metropolitan branch with her father Rick on Friday, May 4, 2007 after a judge sentenced the hotel heriess to 45 days in jail for violating her probation.

    AP / AP
  • US celebrity socialite Paris Hilton pose

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Time to get paid

    Hilton knows what time it is while posing during a news conference introducing her new line of timepieces at the BaselWorld 2007 watch fair in Basel, Switzerland, on Saturday, April 14.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie

    Paris Hilton

    of

    'Simple' pleasures

    Hilton, left, and Nicole Richie reunited to discuss another season of their reality television show "The Simple Life" on Monday, April 9, 2007 in Los Angeles. After famously feuding and filming their parts separately last season, the celebutantes were reunited as camp counselors for the show's fifth installment

    AP / AP
  • Complex Magazine 5th Anniversary Party

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Paris loves to accessorize

    Hilton and her then-beau, actor Josh Henderson, arrive at the Complex Magazine 5th Anniversary party at club Area in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 10, 2007.

    Zuma Press / Zuma Press
  • Vienna Opera Ball

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Having a ball

    Hilton attends the Vienna Opera Ball on Thursday, Feb. 15. 2007. The ball is Austria’s society event of the year and Hilton was invited to be the guest of Richard Lugner, a 74-year-old married construction magnate who invites a celebrity each year. His previous guests included Geri Halliwell, Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra.

    EPA / EPA
  • Paris Hilton

    of

    Booked

    In 2006, Hilton published a book, "Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose." It featured more than 300 photos of the heiress.

    Simon & Schuster / Simon & Schuster
  • Paris Hilton

    of

    Pulling back

    Hilton's then-boyfriend Stavros Niarchos leads the way at a Nov. 2005 cocktail reception to highlight diamonds from DeGrisogono. Yet Hilton's ring finger was diamondless, having ended her engagement to Paris Latsis two months earlier.

    Sipa Press / Sipa Press
  • Halloween Mansion Party Hosted By Hayley Duff

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Bunny power

    In a huge sartorial stretch, Hilton tries on a bunny outfit at the 2005 Halloween Mansion Party hosted by Hayley Duff.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • The Hilton sisters go out to the cinema in Hollywood

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Paris times two

    Paris Hilton and her then-fiance, Paris Latsis, smile as they leave the Arclight Theatre in Hollywood after catching a late night movie. Alas, the good times were not to last.

    Splash News / Splash News
  • Launch Party of Pioneer Automotive Navigation Systems - Los Angeles

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Having more fun

    Paris Hilton and Kimberly Stewart, daughter of Rod Stewart, attend a Los Angeles party. Stewart is one of Hilton's longtime pals, and reportedly was her first choice as a co-star on Fox's "The Simple Life."

    Abaca / Abaca
  • Paris Hilton

    of

    Hungry?

    An image from Hilton's TV spot for Carl's Jr. The burger chain's new ad campaign features Hilton in a revealing one-piece black swimsuit, sensuously washing a Bentley. It plays on her trademark phrase, "That's hot." But some critics found the ad too hot, saying it shouldn't appear on television.

    Carl's Junior / Carl's Junior
  • US hotels heiress Paris Hilton poses at photocall on the Carlton Hotel pier during 58th Cannes Film Festival

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Some like it hot

    Paris Hilton poses at a photocall on the Carlton Hotel pier during the Cannes Film Festival in 2005. She visited the festival to promote her starring role in "National Lampoon's Pledge This!" She would later be taken to court for allegedly failing to promote the film.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Paris Hilton portrays Barbara Eden as Jeannie on episode of American Dreams

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Almost Eden

    Paris Hilton portrays actress Barbara Eden as Jeannie from the '60s TV series "I Dream of Jeannie" in a 2005 episode of NBC's "American Dreams." Eden couldn't show her navel on the original show, a broadcast policy clearly gone by the time Paris arrived on TV.

    NBC via Reuters / NBC via Reuters
  • US socialite Paris Hilton arrives for The Young Hot Hollywood Style Awards in Hollywood

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Going brunette

    Paris Hilton arrives for the Young Hot Hollywood Style Awards in April of 2005. The party was hosted by "US Weekly" magazine and singer Jessica Simpson. We're not sure what prompted the change in hair color, but perhaps Simpson already had the blonde spot locked up.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Paris Hilton

    of

    All smiles

    Paris Hilton takes a photo of herself with a fan as she arrives for the European premiere of her film, "House of Wax." Hilton's boyfriend at the time, Paris Latsis, proposed to her after she returned from three weeks doing publicity in Europe. It didn't last.

    AP / AP
  • Paris Hilton

    of

    Sister act

    Paris Hilton, left, and her sister Nicky Hilton leave the Luca Luca Fall 2005 fashion show in February. The two have been seen together less frequently as Paris' career has skyrocketed, but both are still enjoying plenty of time in the spotlight.

    AP / AP
  • HILTON RICHARDS

    Paris Hilton

    of

    All in the family

    Paris Hilton poses with her parents Rick Hilton and Kathy Richards, and her brother Baron, left, at the "House of Wax" premiere in Los Angeles.

    AP / AP
  • Paris Hilton

    of

    In the flesh

    Paris Hilton stars as Paige Edwards in Warner Bros.' "House of Wax," released the spring of 2005. In the film, she and her co-stars wander into a town filled with wax figures which turn out to be the wax-coated corpses of killers' victims.

    Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
  • Paris Hilton

    of

    Field hands

    Paris Hilton brings along friend Nicole Richie, right, to work on a dairy farm during an episode of "The Simple Life." The Fox reality show, which exposed the duo to the workings of small-town life, further propelled Hilton to stardom.

    Fox / Fox
  • CARTER HILTON

    Paris Hilton

    of

    Nick of time

    Paris Hilton rests in the arms of then-boyfriend Nick Carter, of the Backstreet Boys, as they watch the second half of the NBA All-Star game in Feb. 2004. The two later broke up.

    AP / AP
  • Paris Hilton

    of

    Puppy love

    Paris Hilton poses with her dog Tinkerbell. The heiress with the mostest caught flack in 2005 when plans were briefly revealed to ditch the chihuahua for a cuter dog. Ah, fashion.

    AP / AP

It turned out that people noticed plenty — but not in the way that might have been expected. None of the thousands of media outlets that depend on AP called in asking for a Paris Hilton story. No one felt a newsworthy event had been ignored. (To be fair, nothing too out-of-the-ordinary happened in the Hilton universe.)

The reaction was to the idea of the ban, not the effects of it. There was some internal hand-wringing. Some felt we were tinkering dangerously with the news. Whom, they asked, would we ban next? Others loved the idea. “I vote we do the same for North Korea,” one AP writer said facetiously.

No happy birthday from APThe experiment began on Feb. 19. A few days before, the AP had written from Austria about Hilton’s appearance at the Vienna Opera ball, just ahead of her 26th birthday. We didn’t cover her weekend birthday bash in Las Vegas.

During “blackout week,” the AP didn’t mention Hilton’s second birthday party at a Beverly Hills restaurant, at which a drunken friend reportedly was ejected by security after insulting Paula Abdul and Courtney Love. And editors asked our Puerto Rico bureau not to write about her visit there to hawk her fragrance. However, her name did slip into copy unintentionally three times, as background: in stories about Britney Spears, Nicole Richie, and even in the lead of a story about Democrats in Las Vegas.

Then Hilton was arrested on Feb. 27 for driving with a suspended license — an offense that could conceivably lead to jail time because she may have violated conditions of a previous sentence. By that time, our blackout was over anyway, so reporting the development was an easy call. (On the flip side, we never got to see what repercussions there would have been if we hadn’t.)

Also by then, an internal AP memo about the ban had found its way to the outside world. The New York Observer quoted it on Wednesday, and the Gawker.com gossip site linked to it. Howard Stern was heard mentioning the ban on his radio show, and calls came in from various news outlets asking us about it. On Editor and Publisher magazine’s Web site, a reader wrote: “This is INCREDIBLE, finally a news organization that can see through this evil woman.” And another: “You guys are my heroes!”

We felt a little sheepish that the ban was over, and braced ourselves for the comments that would come when people realized it wasn’t permanent.

We also learned that Lloyd Grove, former columnist for the New York Daily News, had attempted a much longer Paris Hilton blackout. He began it a year into his “Lowdown” column and stuck to it, he says, for two years until the column was discontinued last October — except for a blind item (no names) about Hilton crashing a pre-Oscar party.

So was Grove attempting to raise the level of discourse in our society by focusing on truly newsworthy subjects?

  • Slideshow Photos

    Kevin Winter / Getty Images North America

    Image: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. on the "Let's Be Cops," red carpet, Selena Gomez is immortalized in wax and more.

  • Image: Celebrity Sightings On The Set Of 'A Hundred Streets' - August 8, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Idris Elba

    Actor Idris Elba seen on the set of :A Hundred Streets" on Aug. 8 in London.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of RADiUS-TWC's "The One I Love" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass

    Actors Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass arrive at the premiere of RADIUS-TWC's "The One I Love" at the Vista Theatre on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of RADiUS-TWC's "The One I Love" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nick Kroll

    Actor Nick Kroll arrives at the premiere of RADIUS-TWC's "The One I Love" at the Vista Theatre on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Damon Wayans Jr., Jake Johnson

    Actors Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson arrive at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Cast member D'Arcy poses at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" in Hollywood

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    James D'Arcy

    James D'Arcy arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: BESTPIX: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Arrivals

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Julianne Hough

    Actress Julianne Hough arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Arrivals

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Hannah Simone

    Actress Hannah Simone arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nina Dobrev

    Actress Nina Dobrev arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nicole Murphy, Brandy Norwood

    TV personality Nicole Murphy and singer Brandy Norwood attend The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception at W Hollywood on Aug. 7 in Hollywood.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Tara Reid

    Actress Tara Reid attends The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception at W Hollywood on Aug. 7 in Hollywood.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: "Phoenix" Opening Night

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    James Wirt, Julia Stiles

    Actors James Wirt and Julia Stiles stand on stage during the opening night curtain call for "Phoenix" at the Cherry Lane Theatre on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: "Phoenix" Opening Night

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    AnnaSophia Robb

    Actress AnnaSophia Robb attends the opening night performance of "Phoenix" at the Cherry Lane Theatre on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Madame Tussauds New York To Unveil New, Never-Before-Seen Selena Gomez Wax Figure

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Selena Gomez

    A boy gives the wax figure of Selena Gomez a kiss at the unveiling of the new new, never-before-seen Selena Gomez wax figure at Madame Tussauds New York on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Chris Martin Visits "The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show"

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Chris Martin

    Chris Martin of Coldplay performs during the Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show at Z100 Studio on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Apple Store Soho Presents: Meet the Actors: Michael Fassbender And Domhnall Gleeson - "Frank"

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Michael Fassbender

    Actor Michael Fassbender attends "Meet the Actor" at Apple Store Soho on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Mickey Rourke

    Actor Mickey Rourke is seen at "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Jordana Brewster

    Actress Jordana Brewster waves outisde of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: G. Garvin Live

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Keshia Knight Pulliam

    Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam attends G. Garvin Live at Buckhead Theatre on Aug. 7 in Atlanta.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Reese Witherspoon

    Actress Reese Witherspoon is seen on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Miley Cyrus

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Miley Cyrus

    Singer Miley Cyrus performs in concert at Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 7 in Nashville.

    AP / AP
  • Image: 67th Locarno Film Festival - Day 2

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Melanie Griffith

    Actress Melanie Griffith attends a press conference during the 67th Locarno Film Festival on Aug. 7 in Locarno, Switzerland.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Lily Allen

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Lily Allen

    Singer Lily Allen performs in concert at Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 7 in Nashville.

    AP / AP
  • Image: "The Expendables 3" Paris Photocall At Cinema UGC Normandie

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    'Expendables 3'

    The stars of "Expendables 3," from left, Kellan Lutz, Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes attend "Expendables 3" at Cinema UGC Normandie on Aug. 7 in Paris.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Meet The FilmMakers: "The Rover"

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Robert Pattinson

    Actor Robert Pattinson speaks during the Meet The Filmmakers event for "The Rover" at Apple Store, Regent Street on Aug. 7 in London.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In New York City - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman

    Actors Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman are spotted filming Bateman's "The Family Fang" in Westchester, New York, on Aug. 7.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Africa: New Partnership Models For Growth

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Akon

    Grammy-nominated artist Akon, who is the founder of Akon Lighting Africa Project, discusses at the US-Africa Leaders Summit "Africa: New Parnership Models for Growth" news conference, held in Washington, DC, on Aug. 7, the progress that African heads of state have made.

    Getty Images / Getty Images

Well, not really. “The blackout was a really heartfelt attempt on my part,” he says, “to get publicity for myself.”

A trait that Hilton, it must be said, has turned into an art. Grove thinks the so-called “celebutante” achieved her unique brand of fame because she boasts an irresistible set of traits: wealth, a big name, beauty with a “downmarket” appeal, and a tendency to seem ... oversexed. “This is what mainstream society celebrates,” he says. “She is, in the worst sense, the best expression of the maxim that no bad deed goes unrewarded in our pop culture.”

Undeniable level of fameOne measure of Hilton’s fame: She was No. 5 last year on the Yahoo Buzz Index, a list of overall top searches on the Web site (her ever-so-brief buddy Spears is a perennial No. 1).

Another is that US Weekly has at least a mention or a photo in just about every issue. “People now come to expect to see pictures of her,” says Caroline Schaefer, deputy editor of the celebrity magazine. “They’re intrigued by her unshakable self-esteem. People are fascinated by that.”

Jeff Jarvis, who teaches journalism at the City University of New York, decries the “one-size-fits-all disease” afflicting media outlets, who feel that “everybody’s covering it, so we must, too.” Even The New York Times, he noted, had substantial coverage of a hearing concerning where Anna Nicole Smith — perhaps the one person who rivaled Hilton in terms of fame for fame’s sake — would be buried.

“That disease leads to the Paris Hilton virus spreading through the news industry,” says Jarvis, who puts out the BuzzMachine blog.

So what have we learned from the ban? “It’s hard to tell what this really changes, since we didn’t have to make any hard decisions,” says Jesse Washington, AP’s entertainment editor. “So we’ll continue to use our news judgment on each item, individually.”

Which means that for the immediate future, if not always, we’ll still have Paris.

TOP