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Fake intimacy: Strategies of engagement in Israeli gossip columns
Unformatted Document Text:  about their romantic involvements, shopping habits, touring, dining and entertainment. Similar to the trend found by Levin et al. (1977; 1987), there is a growing tendency to move from reporting about professional trivial data to personal events in the lives of celebrities. Since Israel has no royalty and reporting about the army, including army officers, is regulated by censorship, the celebrity class includes actors, models, media people, athletes, and a few politicians. 6 The entourage of these celebrities, spouses, pet, children and service providers (fashion designers, PR reps, stylists, hairdressers, etc.) become celebrities themselves. The center of celebrity social life is Tel Aviv; appearing or not in national gossip column can make or break a celebrity. A politician once complained about the fact that he was in the hospital and Zippora did not even mentioned it in her columns (check date...). 7 Columnists, however, are not free to publish everything: they have to maintain a working relationship with the sources, sometimes by including self advertising PR materials, or avoiding printing information, so as not to break the relationship with the celebrity in question. Columnist constraints include libel laws, editorial pressure as to what is considered crossing red lines (“no outings”, “no family break ups,” “no involvement of children”), printing deadlines, a certain amount of space to fill, etc. More relevant to the issue of language use is the identity of readership (cf. Fairclough 1995). Gossip columns treated here appear in nationally distributed newspapers; which means that the columns 6 Local press tends to report about local politicians, with the exception of Jerusalem, where a greater number of politicians appear in the local press. During election times, however, politicians attempts to increase their visibility, even in gossip columns. 7 Zippora sometimes included items telling of people complaining that their actions deserve to be mentioned but were not. During 2000 Gil Riva had a special corner in Shlihut Katlanit for those people wishing to appear in the column. In 1996 an Israeli television movie called “celebrity” told a story of a gossip columnist called Zafrira who uses the column to get even with a young model who did not pay her the respect she deserves, and a writes about a new love affair of the model to a plain looking bookkeeper. Appearing in the column makes the bookkeeper an instant celebrity. Zafrira herself is pictured as a witch: flowing black hair, stirring pots while talking on the phone with her sources.

Authors: Schely-Newman, Esther.
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about their romantic involvements, shopping habits, touring, dining and entertainment.
Similar to the trend found by Levin et al. (1977; 1987), there is a growing tendency to
move from reporting about professional trivial data to personal events in the lives of
celebrities. Since Israel has no royalty and reporting about the army, including army
officers, is regulated by censorship, the celebrity class includes actors, models, media
people, athletes, and a few politicians.
6
The entourage of these celebrities, spouses, pet,
children and service providers (fashion designers, PR reps, stylists, hairdressers, etc.)
become celebrities themselves.
The center of celebrity social life is Tel Aviv; appearing or not in national gossip
column can make or break a celebrity. A politician once complained about the fact that he
was in the hospital and Zippora did not even mentioned it in her columns (check date...).
7
Columnists, however, are not free to publish everything: they have to maintain a working
relationship with the sources, sometimes by including self advertising PR materials, or
avoiding printing information, so as not to break the relationship with the celebrity in
question. Columnist constraints include libel laws, editorial pressure as to what is
considered crossing red lines (“no outings”, “no family break ups,” “no involvement of
children”), printing deadlines, a certain amount of space to fill, etc. More relevant to the
issue of language use is the identity of readership (cf. Fairclough 1995). Gossip columns
treated here appear in nationally distributed newspapers; which means that the columns
6
Local press tends to report about local politicians, with the exception of Jerusalem, where a greater
number of politicians appear in the local press. During election times, however, politicians attempts to
increase their visibility, even in gossip columns.
7
Zippora sometimes included items telling of people complaining that their actions deserve to be
mentioned but were not. During 2000 Gil Riva had a special corner in Shlihut Katlanit for those people
wishing to appear in the column. In 1996 an Israeli television movie called “celebrity” told a story of a
gossip columnist called Zafrira who uses the column to get even with a young model who did not pay her
the respect she deserves, and a writes about a new love affair of the model to a plain looking bookkeeper.
Appearing in the column makes the bookkeeper an instant celebrity. Zafrira herself is pictured as a witch:
flowing black hair, stirring pots while talking on the phone with her sources.


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