A couple of years ago, in an unexpected display of Walkey Award-worthy investigative journalism, the writers of gossip magazine New Idea (commonly called ‘No Idea’ by those who do not read it) ended the political career of National Party MP Andrew Broad.
Mr Broad, it transpired, had been trying to pick up women (whilst married) on a sugar baby website. One of those women decided, given that she had not profited from meeting him, to sell her story to New Idea.
That is probably the most truthful and accurate piece of reporting printed in New Idea in recent times. But it did meet the criterion of tittilating gossip, which is what the readers (if you can call them that) of New Idea and similar magazines buy it for.
Which segues me to the title of this post. Jennifer Aniston is one of the long standing cover girls of these gossip magazines, given her beauty, succession of handsome boyfriends and husbands, and the general drama of her personal life (which would delight the readership as they indulge in a spot of schadenfreude). For a long while, New Idea would run cover stories announcing either her pregnancy or (after she reached an age where this was no longer likely) her adoption plans.
If half of the reports about Jennifer Aniston’s supposed pregnancy were true, she indeed would have as many children as the proverbial old woman who lived in a shoe.
What has caused me to go on this rant about gossip magazines this morning (at a time when Australian Army war crimes and the activities of communist China are far more pressing), is that last week’s cover story for New Idea combined the mix of editorial malice and superficiality which is innate to the gossip magazines.
The cover featured a picture of the former Home and Away starlet known then as Bec Cartwright and now as Bec Hewitt, wife of a former leading tennis champion. The heading to the story was ‘Dumped’.
Of course, it did not relate to what first comes to mind (ie the end of the Hewitt marriage), but rather to something to do with Bec Hewitt’s now somewhat superfluous acting career.
Cover stories featuring the insinuation that the long married Hewitts have broken up are one of the staples of New Idea, along with Jennifer Aniston’s personal life and the supposed activities of various younger Royals. You can see why – rich, good looking, famous. The bored housewife pushing her trolley down the supermarket aisle is going to get her fix of schadenfreude from the cover story, and buy the gossip magazine.
I am not sure how long this has generally been the formula followed by gossip magazines, but it does offend me for several reasons. One is the blatant dishonesty of the cover stories. Another is that these stories are, aside from untrue, pretty shallow. But the most serious is that they represent a degree of thinly veiled malice.
Over the past few years, just about all of the so called Lads’ Magazines such as FHM, Ralph, Loaded and Zoo have closed down. They were accused of promoting ‘rape culture’. At the very least, they were sexist and silly, focusing on images of artificially big breasted young women, alcohol abuse, fast cars and other toys for boys. The public outgrew those sorts of silly publications.
Is it not time that the public outgrew New Idea and Women’s Day? I wish it were so.