Recent quotes:

Harvey's secrets

Twenty-four hours after the Bieber video came in, the newsroom learned that Levin had decided not to run the story. He did not destroy his copy of the video, however, and Bieber’s camp was aware that Levin could reverse his position and post it. Celebrity secrets are treated like commodities at TMZ, not unlike the way they were treated by J. Edgar Hoover’s F.B.I. “The power of secret information was a gun that Hoover always kept loaded,” Tim Wiener writes, in “Enemies,” a 2012 book about the bureau. A former writer for TMZ told me that, for Levin, there was more to gain by sitting on the clip, and earning Bieber’s good will, than by running it and ruining his career. (Older gossip publications followed this strategy as well. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, the “dark genius” of William d’Alton Mann, the publisher of Town Topics, was his realization that “stories that came into his possession were perhaps worth more untold than told.” In the nineteen-fifties, Confidential gained access to the head of Columbia Studios by leveraging tapes of Rock Hudson that referred to his homosexuality.)

Publicists and their lies

Levin also disapproved of the way that publicists leveraged access to celebrities in order to control the media coverage of their clients. “The stories that were being told weren’t real,” he said, in a 2009 interview. “Producers knew that they weren’t real, but they played ball to get interviews with the stars.” Most journalism about stars, he said, was “built on a lie.”

the history of gossip

Thirty-five hundred years ago, Mesopotamian scribes used cuneiform to record the impeachment hearings of a mayor who had been accused of corruption, kidnapping, adultery, and the theft of manure. In 1709, the first modern gossip magazine, The Tatler, started publication, in London. The medium arrived in America in the late nineteenth century, when a weekly named Town Topics began publishing blind items, in a section called “Saunterings.” (In 1905, the section’s editor attempted to blackmail Emily Post’s husband after learning of his infidelity.) Tycoons and politicians were the initial focus of the gossip trade; one British photographer bribed a gardener to gain entrance to Winston Churchill’s house, where he hid, waiting for the perfect shot, until Churchill spotted him and chased him away. With the rise of Hollywood, actors became gossip’s prime quarry; the magazine Confidential courted lawsuits by printing stories with titles like “Mae West’s Open Door Policy.”

Perez Hilton, Dad - The New Yorker

Where might the ethical boundaries lie in reporting on a toddler who happens to be the child of a celebrity celebrity-watcher?

My Year Ripping Off the Web With the Daily Mail Online

As part of my initial training session, I was told that any link or attribution in an aggregated piece should be placed no higher than the first set of images in the post—which were typically three or four paragraphs in, where a reader might overlook the fact that the information provided in the preceding paragraphs had no attribution. If the original report was an article in the New York Daily News, a direct competitor of the Mail's, I was sometimes instructed to not give attribution at all. (The Mail, contacted for comment, maintains that its standards for attribution are high: "We often link above the first three photos and we link to the NYDN on a daily basis," it says. "We always strive to attribute." After this article was first published, a spokesperson followed up: "We always strive to make the story better, whether through a new angle, new photographs, or additional information and quotes.")