How to Write a Gossip Column
A gossip column can be fun to read but it is not always the easiest type of writing to do everyday. A gossip columnist might also get a lot of flack because of the nature of the job. If the prospect of having the inside track on all things entertainment seems exciting, the following tips will help you learn how to write a gossip column.
Review celebrity events currently being played out in the media. Read Page Six in the "New York Post," popular websites such as Perez Hilton, TMZ and Jossip as well as the online versions of "People" and "Us Weekly." Though the magazine versions of "People," "Us Weekly" and the "New York Post" provide more content and details, the online versions have up-to-the-minute information on all the major stories.
Think about your personal and professional sources, paying close attention to any "ins" you may have in the celebrity world. If you do not have any Hollywood "ins," contact the various publicists who need to keep their clients and their clients' projects at the forefront of the media.
Utilize a blogging program like Blogger to create a free blog that can be used for gossip. Purchase a custom domain name if you do not want the host's name in your blog.
Design your blog in a way that is both eye-catching and professional. Try to strike a good balance between design and copy, which can be achieved by reviewing other successful gossip blogs.
Provide contact information for yourself (whether you remain anonymous or not) where you can receive tips, scoops and exclusives about potential gossip posts.
Begin your blog by writing about the stories of the moment. If you don't have any original content off the bat you can still report on the gossip, as long as you attribute where your information is coming from by saying something like, "According to People.com." Though gossip, by its very definition, is not confirmed fact, it is not OK to take credit for any material that someone else has generated. It is also not OK to refer to gossip as fact, regardless of who else has written about it. Remember to use phrases like "allegedly," "purportedly" or "supposedly" when discussing unconfirmed information.
Create a space on your site for users and visitors to post comments. This will generate more comments, more readers and more web hits. Eventually, you should form a fan base of loyal readers who will be willing to generate tips and feedback.
Develop a set of rules for yourself as a gossip columnist, including acceptable sources. Are anonymous sources acceptable? What about someone who will give their name and claims to know the celebrity but whose relationship status cannot be confirmed? Define how strict you will be in revealing or sharing your sources with others and what you consider legitimate gossip versus blatantly false stories.
Photos always help to drive a gossip blog. Once you have generated a little revenue off of advertisements you may want to try to form a relationship with the various paparazzi agencies, though you should figure out where you stand ethically in terms of the agency's methods for obtaining photos.
Media and law go hand in hand, as media organizations are constantly embroiled in lawsuits, most of which involve celebrities or other media outlets. Be very, very careful when it comes to plagiarism and giving credit where credit is due. It is much better to credit a juicy nugget of gossip to a competitor than it is to get sued for claiming that that story was yours.
Nellie Day is a freelance writer based out of Hermosa Beach, Calif. Her work can regularly be seen on newsstands, where her specialties include weddings, real estate, food and wine, pets, electronics, architecture and design, business and travel. Day earned a master's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Southern California.