Sure, celebrities trade privacy for a paycheck, but does that make gossip ethical?
Question: Is gossip inherently immoral?
David Hauslaib: I think for most folks, you know, it’s a guilty pleasure. I don’t think . . . You know most people wouldn’t necessarily admit to consuming all this information. Maybe a little bit more so recently because it is so accepted. But again, I don’t think gossip makes a . . . you know a culture better. I think it’s, you know, another form of expression and communication; but I don’t think we’re contributing to society as some other people are.
Question: Can one overindulge in gossip?
David Hauslaib: I think the real debate there is the sort of . . . the degree or the lengths that people go for gossip now; where you have, you know, stars like Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears who literally cannot leave their homes without 20 or 50 photographers following them and snapping photos as they walk to their car or walk to the gas station. And honestly I think that’s a bit ridiculous. I do . . . I can’t fault people for being interested in them because these celebrities have traded part of their privacy for a paycheck and for that notoriety. So I can’t fault them. But I do think there are many instances where the chase of gossip has become so dangerous that in a sense it can be reprehensible. I don’t think that’s stopping any American from going to the newsstand and picking up their tabloids or clicking on these web sites that, you know, are purchasing photos from paparazzi agencies that may not have the best ethics.
Question: Where does responsibility for gossip lie?
David Hauslaib: I don’t think it’s so easy to separate. I think every party to this cycle is in collusion. The consumers are rabid fans of it, so they go to the media providers who will go to any lengths to sell a copy of their weekly. And they go to the photo agencies who make a lot of money selling paparazzi pictures; and who also go to great lengths to get that shot to go back and feed the consumer who wants all of this information. So while, you know, the average person can say, “You’re going too far,” and “Leave Britney alone,” these are the same people who are clicking on these web sites every single day. And without that process and that machine behind it, there wouldn’t be any of that content to consume
Question: Does Jossip have a line it wont cross?
David Hauslaib: I think first and foremost it comes down to accuracy. I mean we are guilty of, you know, shooting first and asking questions later. Because the approach we take is if somebody is putting out this information; if somebody is trying to generate an item or a piece of gossip; to us that’s a story into itself – that somebody has an agenda that they’re trying to push. Is there a specific instance where we’ve drawn the line? I can’t recall any one particular time. I think it’s something that egregiously personal without, you know, sort of warranting it. We may use our discretion there. But I think, you know . . . And listen. I’ll take as much responsibility as I can. Our readers also are very interested, again, even in the smallest iota of information, and they’re expecting that.
Recorded on: Jan 23 2008