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What does a Gossip Columnist do?

By Lily Ruha
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A gossip columnist writes about the lives of famous and wealthy people. Gossip columns are generally written for publications such as magazines or newspapers. This type of columnist is hired by both print and Web publications to write a combination of facts and opinions about famous celebrities. In some cases, gossip columnists are interviewed by television and radio programs about their knowledge and opinions of celebrities. To become a gossip columnist, an individual typically needs a journalism background and a knowledge of, and interest in, the lives of celebrities.

The gossip columnist job description typically includes reporting on celebrity news. A gossip columnist might discuss the recent divorce of a well-known actress or share his opinion about the indiscretions of a leading politician. Typically, gossip columns combine elements of fact and opinion. A gossip columnist must be careful not to defame celebrities in a way that exposes himself and his publication to a lawsuit. As a protection, publications with editorial policies generally require that the information shared in a gossip column come from a reliable source.

To become a gossip columnist, an individual must possess strong writing and interviewing skills. Many columnists with established publications have a degree and/or a background in journalism. A columnist must have the ability to interview and comfortably interact with sources. The source for the gossip story may be the celebrity himself or his publicist, friend, family member, colleague, or other person who is intimately familiar with the celebrity’s life. Some gossip columnists are interviewed by television and radio programs, so they must be comfortable speaking in front of audiences.

Job opportunities for gossip columnists exist with a variety of publications. Gossip magazines, also called tabloids, devoted wholly to discussing the private aspects of celebrities’ lives are common employers of gossip columnists. Newspapers often hire this type of columnist to write for their entertainment sections. A sports magazine might hire a gossip columnist to write a monthly column on the personal lives of individual athletes.

Online gossip columnists write for online magazines, newspapers, and blogs. Using the Web to instantaneously publish their columns gives online gossip columnists immediate access to their audiences. A gossip column written for a large online publication generally undergoes editorial oversight before it is published. The blog owner who writes his own gossip columns, however, will typically work without an editorial process. An online platform gives gossip columnists an ability to interact with audiences through reading and responding to online comments.

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Discussion Comments

By anon303106 — On Nov 13, 2012

Actually, if you look closely at gossip sites, rarely will you find any one of the writers has a journalism degree. If they did, they would be bound by the laws and ethics of journalism itself, which follows a strict code of truth and reporting as such.

The average gossip rag cover has about a 12 percent accuracy rate. If a newspaper submitted a gossip section that was inaccurate, it would be sued, and so would the reporter, and that person would be fired. A gossip magazine or blog simply apologizes, or gets sued by the celebrity, and the writer still retains their job because in the end, it boosted the bottom line. Everyone wins, except for the public, who believe their crap.

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