If Hello! magazine is to distance itself from celebrity coverage, what, pray, is the point of it? Are we offering salutations in future to charity workers and sporting heroes (as opposed to celebrity worthies and spoilt footballers)? I worry about what will happen, too, to the beauty advice columns penned by women whose faces seem to have been drawn on then wrapped in clingfilm; and food features where nobody stops grinning long enough to eat anything.
The weekly magazine wishes to reposition itself in our minds as a fashion and lifestyle title (no, of course not a more cerebral title), and to position itself in newsagents far, far away from OK!, Now and the other, lesser rivals. Celebrity magazines have been bankers for publishers for years, and the appetite for highlighted soap stars and buff reality-show characters has been relentless amongst a certain constituency. The rest of us just looked in occasionally, aghast. Who could forget the extraordinary coverage of Paul Gascoigne's wedding reception, the groom pictured at the urinal, a pint in one hand and, oh, never mind…
There must still be money to be made from lavish spreads of weddings and exotic honeymoons, baby showers and launch parties, but Hello! might have decided that paying up to six figures for cheesy pictures of C-list celebs in rented apartments is no longer a great investment. Are they aware that fashion and lifestyle coverage (whatever that actually is) is no cheaper?
What's more likely is that Hello!'s publisher is acknowledging that, like crystal meth addicts, WAG addicts need a stronger and stronger hit each time. Why wait a week for some anodyne photos and an insipid Q&A when every day on websites like TMZ (you'll remember that they broke the Prince Harry story) one can get instant, high-octane – if still slightly unpolished – juice on famous folk?
But Grazia, the magazine that Hello! now wishes to nuzzle up against, with its mix of smart fashion coverage and sexy celebrity gossip, has been caught on the hop a few times recently with splashy stories that turned out to be the exact opposite of reality. The wrong Katy getting divorced; Jennifer Aniston's old maid status rubber-stamped in the very week she announces her engagement. For those that care about who's boffing who, accuracy matters just as much as who's been reshuffled matters to the rest of us.
Famously, the curse of Hello! was that couples snapped in marital bliss for the magazine were doomed to divorce soon after. Will its new direction be a curse for Hello!? As a consumer of high-minded newsprint and trashy websites (although I commend to you jezebel.com for a better class of gossip), I won't be searching it out – whichever shelf of the newsagents it ends up on.