The Future of Gossip

27 Dec

By: Open Book

Today gossip is available 24/7 due to the Internet.  Gossip blog sites over the last three years have continued to grow in number. According to The Independent (an online news magazine).[1] In 2007 many mainstream media organizations such as AOL bought TMZ, which gets 1.6 million visitors a day. Yahoo owns OMG! And CBS bought Dotspotter.com. The interest for mainstream media organizations such as CBS buying into the trend was in efforts to capitalize on the growing market and demand. Mainstream media believe gossip websites can write about more risqué material than what can be explored in traditional media.

However, recently some of the more popular gossip sites such as Perez Hilton and Gawker have run into trouble due to lawsuits, high turn over and controversy over embellishing stories. Perez Hilton embellished pictures of a minor Miley Cyrus, without underwear and Gawker embellished stories about the death of John Travolta son Jet.[2] Gawker Media, which was started by Nick Denton and is said to be valued at 150 million, last year started selling off other sites and had to lay off 19 employees.  The reason for the downturn is due to editors leaving, ridiculous working conditions and the quality of the stories becoming cheap and superficial.

Like many gossip blog sites out there, Gawker Media earned the reputation of being called “linkbait.”  Meaning the stories published are now sensationalized with superficial appeal aimed only at generating traffic.

Many bloggers who start gossip blog sites today follow the same superficial “linkbait” format. Celebrity sites today often regurgitate false information reported by other blog sites, which makes them liable.  In a article on suite101.com by Lizz Shepherd called Celebrity Gossip Online states, “The explosion of celeb gossip sites and the need for constant celebrity gossip updates has led to many blog networks hiring gossip bloggers who are ill qualified to report gossip. Without the proper training and understanding of libel laws and copyrights, many celebrity gossip sites are left wide open to lawsuits.”[3]

Not only are lawsuits a growing problem for gossip blog sites. But discussion boards within these communities are magnets for slander, cyber-bullying, stalking and harassment. Some gossip sites insight and create volatile situations to drum up interest on their site. Gawker started a site called “Gawker Stalker” where fans were encouraged to post celebrity locations, and sightings on a Google map.  It was reported by The Independent, an article written by Tim Walker and Alexis Ashman stated that, George Clooney took offense and said the site was encouraging stalking. Gone are the days of gossip magazines, today celebrity gossip has evolved into 24/7 tracking the latest whereabouts of a celebrity.[4] Gossip today (which targets a 16 to 34 year old female demographic) is not like it was yesterday; the demand for it has grown, college students have developed addictions to it.  Today gossip blog sites are so abundant and readily available that gossip consumers have yet to grow tired of them.  New laws are being put in place to protect the general public and celebrities from stalkers, paparazzi, cyber-bullying etc…. The future of gossip lives on the Internet today, the question is for how long?

Please join us for a discussion on this topic: Tuesday, December 28th at 7:00 p.m. EST.

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4 Responses to “The Future of Gossip”

  1. Lurker December 28, 2010 at 2:28 PM #

    Have you seen “State of Play” the movie with Russell Crowe about a news reporter?
    There is a line in that movie that I think fits right in with this article. Russell’s character is talking to the young new reporter who is in charge of the ‘online blog’ of the newspaper. He basically calls her out “…let me give you some facts to check out before you upchuck online.”

    The blogging world is supposed to be opinion based which is what gossip thrives on. I think though there is a natural assumption that the person writing the article is a news reporter or has a journalism background. As the internet continues to evolve, I think it will get worse.

  2. Kim December 28, 2010 at 7:04 PM #

    I have to say the not checking facts and running with stories that “all” news media seems to run with is scary, not only because of the gossip and misinformation that is becoming part of our history, but also news items that are being considered news and then discounted later.

    Gossip has always been a part of Hollywood it seems, but it does seem like it is way worse now than it was in early Hollywood. There was a time when you looked at People magazine as being a good source of information about Hollywood and The National Enquirer as the gossip source. Now there is no difference between either, they both spread the gossip and if there is a mistake the person that was discredited has to sue for justice.

  3. Parisienne December 29, 2010 at 12:18 PM #

    Hi Ladies!

    IMO, the gossip mill will only get worse. Open Book, I’m glad that you brought up the “Gawker Stalker” there is an application similar to that on FB where “normal” people can post their locations. For example, I know someone who has that paticular feature on their page and she constantly post where she is. Every time she goes somewhere she posts it. honestly, I think the days of 100% privacy are gone UNLESS a person demands it. I think though that people with a “give me more, i need to know now” mentality are the type of people that drive scandal media. Some people don’t care and are of a “live let live” mentality.

    As long as stalking someone is made to look fun what good are all the laws that are in place to protect people because they won’t be followed anyway, IMO.

    • Kim December 30, 2010 at 8:36 PM #

      I totally agree, with you Paris. I never thought about it before but you are right it is looked as being fun to stalk people, especially celebrities. Which is so wrong.

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