Why gossiping glossies are rot off the press

Revelations about pop stars and actors are everywhere. But can you believe any of them?

It must have been with a sense of disappointment, not to say shock, that readers of this week's edition of New! magazine encountered the admission on page three that "there are often elements of people's private lives we just don't know about".

Say it's not so! Surely, with the all-seeing eyes of "A. Pal", the eavesdropping talents of "R. Source" and the mind-reading techniques of body-language experts, nothing remains secret from the celebrity press?

It's a sector of the media which, in my view, is insufficiently maligned. Shamelessly feeding the market in paparazzi photography, the celeb mags tolerate journalistic standards which would shame the red-top tabloids, the skirts of which they hide behind when the media is being censured for the threat it poses to personal privacy.

The latest Closer boasts cover-line quotes from Charlotte Church, Gavin Henson, Coleen Rooney and Abbey Clancy. Yet a flick through the pages reveals that not one of them has given an interview. Ms Church is nonetheless quoted word-for-word at length via "pals" who presumably were equipped with a digital recorder or taking a meticulous shorthand note when the singer confided in them.

This week's Look boasts a "Shock Confession" from Cheryl Cole. She wants a baby. "I am ready now. I'm a woman not a girl," runs a pull quote. The article begins by acknowledging that Ms Cole and the dancer Derek Hough "haven't officially announced that they're an item" but goes on to quote an "insider" saying that the singer has already chosen a baby name. "She would love a little girl and she loves the names Martha and Isabelle." There is, it turns out, no interview with Ms Cole.

Meanwhile the rival weekly Heat has a rather different take on the story. "The truth" about Cheryl and Derek, it claims, is "that they were in fact never romantically involved". This conclusion is supported by body-language expert Judi James, who examines a pap shot of the pair in the street and opines that "not only has Cheryl allowed an unfeasible spatial gap to occur here, she's even employing that killer bag as an airbag to enforce the barrier between them."

I'd say the celebrity magazine sector is dragging down journalism. These "pals" with their extraordinary sensory powers encourage the public expectation that no conversation, no matter how personal, is private. Clive Goodman, the royal editor of the News of the World, took that culture to its illegal extreme and served four months in jail for hacking into the voicemails of his targets.

The celeb magazines benefit from being seen as fluffy, less nasty than the tabloids. Yet the coverage is often spiteful. New! described Victoria Beckham as "looking knackered" with "greasy" hair as she launched her collection at New York Fashion Week. Closer said Ms Beckham looked "gaunt, rundown and ghostly pale".

The suffocating levels of attention take their toll, as the magazines admit. Heat reports that Mischa Barton has parted company with her boyfriend because "he was expecting they'd get some attention, but he never imagined it would be as bad as it was." In one of the few on-the-record interviews, actress Jaime Winstone tells Look of her split with Alfie Allen: "It's not healthy to have all that attention on a relationship."

Of course some "pals" are close to home, near neighbours or distant relatives. Or it's the celebrity's own agent, trying to do damage limitation by working with a journalist who is writing around a pap picture. Sometimes the source is the D-lister invited to a party in return for generating publicity by dishing gossip on more famous guests.

A New! story this week on the love life of Big Brother star Chantelle Houghton seemed a convenient publicity coup for lingerie store La Senza, where she shopped for frillies in an effort to win back her ex, Samuel Preston. But the romance is off, according to Preston's Twitter account: "I think my friend A. Source has been getting the wrong end of the stick once again."

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
newsChester Zoo have revealed their newest members
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
The video, titled 'A Message to America', was released a day after Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that has overrun large parts of Iraq, threatened to attack Americans 'in any place'. U.S. officials said they were working to determine the video's authenticity
i100
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape