How Gossip Became the News and the News Became Just Another Show
by Jeannette Walls
Gossip. It's more than just hearsay. society columns, and supermarket
tabloids. It has, like it or not, become a mainstay of American
pop culture. In Dish, industry insider Jeannette Walls gives this
provocative subject its due, offering a comprehensive, serious exploration
of gossip and its social, historical, and political significance.
Examining the topic from the inside out, Walls looks at the players;
the origins of gossip, from birth of People magazine to the death
of Ladi Di; and how technology including the Internet will continue
to change the face gossip. As compelling and seductive as its subject
matter, Dish brilliantly reveals the fascinating inner workings
of a phenomenon that is definitely here to stay.
Walls is the former gossip correspondent for E! Channel and
New York Magazine's "Intelligencer". She can now be seen
on MSNBC three mornings a week and appears on MSNBC online four
days a week. Ms. Walls lives in New York City.
"My reaction to having
our speaker today at the National Press Club was the same as a lot
of other members," Doug Harbrecht, the club's president and Business
Week's Washington bureau chief, told the two hundred journalists
gathered before him on the afternoon of June 2, 1998. "Why do we
want to give a forum to that guy?"
"That guy" was Matt Drudge,
who, said Harbrecht, "mucks through the hoaxes, conspiracies, and
half-truths posted on-line in pursuit of fodder for his website."
Six months earlier, Drudge had posted the sordid story that had
subsequently exploded into the biggest political scandal since Watergate.
But while journalists had gloried in the heroic part they had played
in Watergate, most reporters were repulsed by their role in the
Lewinsky affair. Despite charges of Clinton's alleged perjury and
obstruction of justice, this story was driven not by issues or by
questions of national security and the abuse of power-but by sex.
It was the stuff of gossip columns. Yet because the scandal dominated
the news for months, Matt Drudge, who never studied journalism and
had never worked for a news organization, became one of the best
known reporters in the country. Matt Drudge was the personification
of how scandal had hijacked the news--and those in the establishment
media hated him for it.
"So, Matt, know this,"
said Harbrecht. "There aren't many in this hallowed room who consider
you a journalist. Real journalists pride themselves on getting it
first and right; they get to the bottom of the story, they bend
over backwards to get the other side. Journalism means being painstakingly
thorough, evenhanded, and fair. Now, in the interest of good journalism,
let's hear Matt Drudge's side of the story."
The above is
excerpted from Dish. Copy Right. By Jeannette Walls. All
rights reserved. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by Permission.
Above Text ©
2002, HarperCollins Publishers.
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