Gossip can achieve positive results for all the wrong reasons.
Question: Can gossip cover good news?
David Hauslaib: I think so. To me a story is a story is a story. A good story can encompass any different number of elements. Yes scandal, sex, drugs – that sells much better. But you do have plenty of coverage devoted to various celebrities going all over Africa, opening up schools, helping with refugee efforts. And I think that should make the cover of a magazine. Is it going to sell well? Probably not. But I think we should . . . I think it’s important in the gossip cycle to recognize those efforts. Do . . . I don’t think Americans necessarily care as much whether, you know, Paris Hilton is going to, you know, fund a battered women’s shelter as she is gonna get plastered and flash her crotch. So I’ll let the consumer decide on that one.
Question: Can celebrities leverage their fame for good?
David Hauslaib: Yes, and for all the wrong reasons. I think celebrities ranging from Brad and Angelina all the way down to sort of low level celebs who probably don’t get the attention they deserve for those efforts do bring awareness and attention. I think, you know, you do have a lot of young people – women . . . young girls especially who are absorbing this information, and who for the life of them probably could not find an African country on the map. All of a sudden they know where Malawi is, and Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. And they can put these countries on a map and actually have some cultural awareness. Do I think Angelina Jolie’s cause should be the, you know, first example of their worldliness? Probably not. But is that better than nothing? Absolutely.
Question: How would you describe the traits of a good gossip writer?
David Hauslaib: It really all comes down to connections. You have to know the right people. You have to have the right network of sources. You know gossip reporting works as any other reporting niche does. Whether you’re in finance, education, politics, foreign policy, you know it’s all going to come down to who you know, and who’s feeding you hopefully accurate information. From there I mean the writer has to be able to tell a story. When it comes to blogging, you know we’re dealing with more transparent and more personality driven content. Where as in the tabloid magazine it’s going to be more about painting the overall picture. But with a gossip writer they need to be able to identify what I think is the most important thing to a story, which is that personality behind it.
How do you get information on, say Britney Spears?
Hauslaib: At the top of the game is Britney Spears. She is the number one medium for all Britney Spears related information. She’s well known to phone the paparazzi ahead of time to let her (them) know where she’s going to be heading out to. She’s not alone. Many celebrities and socialites do this also with the hope of being photographed and appearing in a magazine. You know and it trickles down to the paparazzi who are trailing her 24/7 aren’t just selling photos, but they’re selling the stories and information. That information gets picked up by tabloid magazines who, you know, will quote an anonymous friend – who is often a paparazzo – as relaying the story. And then it gets put through the machine of, say, a tabloid magazine or a blog. And then from the other avenue you could have publicists feeding information as well. But I think when it comes to blogging in particular, what’s really phenomenal is that anybody is a source. It doesn’t have to be the celebrity or the photographer. It can be somebody who saw, you know, a certain B-lister out at a restaurant, and suddenly they’re getting in touch with you and they’re the source of the information. And we’re . . . You know I think the perfect examples of that are, you know, the Michael Richards video . . . you know when he was on stage screaming racial epithets. That wouldn’t have been a story were it not for some random person with a camera phone. And that’s really sort of an example of how anybody can provide a story and how gossip is becoming much more democratic.
Question: How does Jossip combat the stiff competition?
David Hauslaib: Sure. I mean that’s part of it, and I think you know the well . . . Let’s say the well-educated American consumer of gossip understands at long last the machine of celebrity; that there are so many things going on behind the scenes that they aren’t privy to for very obvious reasons. And when you have a tabloid magazine that’s owned by a large publishing company who just happens to run a movie studio; who just happens to have a movie coming out this weekend; well guess what? They’re gonna bury or not even report a negative item about that star because they have corporate interest in protecting their profits, which I absolutely get. Our readers come to us knowing at the end of the day it’s me. I’m the . . . I’m the only guy who’s really responsible or has any answering to do when it comes to, you know, the finances or the business end of things. And we don’t have those relationships that we’re protecting. Our policy is if it’s a good story we’re going to report it. It doesn’t matter if there are favors or relationships in play. If we get a hold of that information, we’re going to go with it.
Recorded on: Jan 23 2008