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Fake intimacy: Strategies of engagement in Israeli gossip columns
Unformatted Document Text:  Fake Intimacy: strategies of engagement in Israeli gossip columns Introduction Gossip is a very common mode of interpersonal communication that suffers from negative reputation but nevertheless fulfils important social and personal functions. Interpersonal contexts, however, are but one of many spheres of gossip. Gossip also appears in the media, e.g., the newspaper and the Internet; these contexts create other modes of disseminating gossip. Gossip is information, and information is the subject matter of journalism, yet gossip receives a different treatment than information otherwise classified. Is this so because gossip is evaluative and thus subjective or, perhaps, because “truth” has little relevance to gossip. One result of the distinction between gossip and news is special sections dedicated purely to gossip. While media coverage of scandals and their social repercussions, the role of tabloids and crime stories in the media have been studied (e.g., Bird 1992; Krejicek 1998; Lull and Hinnerman 1997; Sparks and Tulluch 2000), gossip columns were left untouched. Some gossip columnists published their memoirs (e.g., Collins 1998; Mulcahy 1988; Smith 2000; Walls 2000), while the personality of others became the center of movies and books, e.g., Walter Winchell or Luella Parsons. Only sociologist Jack Levin and associates conducted a long-term comparative content study of what they called “media small talk” in major US newspaper ˜(Levin and Arluke 1987; Levin and Kimmel 1977; Levin, Arluke and Modt-Desbreau 1988). The languages and style of this particular media genre have not yet been studied. Media gossip differs from interpersonal gossip in a variety of ways: ordinary people, readers of the columns, are not part of the social circle of those gossiped about,

Authors: Schely-Newman, Esther.
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Fake Intimacy: strategies of engagement in Israeli gossip columns
Introduction
Gossip is a very common mode of interpersonal communication that suffers from
negative reputation but nevertheless fulfils important social and personal functions.
Interpersonal contexts, however, are but one of many spheres of gossip. Gossip also
appears in the media, e.g., the newspaper and the Internet; these contexts create other
modes of disseminating gossip.
Gossip is information, and information is the subject matter of journalism, yet
gossip receives a different treatment than information otherwise classified. Is this so
because gossip is evaluative and thus subjective or, perhaps, because “truth” has little
relevance to gossip. One result of the distinction between gossip and news is special
sections dedicated purely to gossip. While media coverage of scandals and their social
repercussions, the role of tabloids and crime stories in the media have been studied (e.g.,
Bird 1992; Krejicek 1998; Lull and Hinnerman 1997; Sparks and Tulluch 2000), gossip
columns were left untouched. Some gossip columnists published their memoirs (e.g.,
Collins 1998; Mulcahy 1988; Smith 2000; Walls 2000), while the personality of others
became the center of movies and books, e.g., Walter Winchell or Luella Parsons. Only
sociologist Jack Levin and associates conducted a long-term comparative content study
of what they called “media small talk” in major US newspaper ˜(Levin and Arluke 1987;
Levin and Kimmel 1977; Levin, Arluke and Modt-Desbreau 1988). The languages and
style of this particular media genre have not yet been studied.
Media gossip differs from interpersonal gossip in a variety of ways: ordinary
people, readers of the columns, are not part of the social circle of those gossiped about,


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