The New York Review of Magazines

Gossip Mill

By Zachary Sniderman

I’m starting to get a bad reputation. The good folks at Gristedes think I’m addicted to celebrity weeklies and I can’t really blame them. Every week when I pick up groceries I (now) always stop at the magazine racks to pick out the newest issue of People, Us Weekly and Star Magazine. Every week. For about three months now. Heck, even I think it sounds like a problem.

I’m doing this for the sake of journalist integrity. My feature story for The New York Review of Magazines is on celebrity gossip weeklies and how the stories in these magazines change from week to week. In order to track the changes, I obviously need to pick up the issues each week. My local Gristedes happens to be the easiest place to do so. I suppose everyone has his or her cross to bear.

What I did notice is that it’s surprisingly difficult to tell when a new issue of People, Us Weekly or Star actually comes out. This is largely due to the accepted standard of cover design. Gossip weeklies usually forgo the magazine standard of featuring a cover model and instead plaster small tidbits or a collage of celebrities. The result is that the covers of gossip weeklies start to look homogeneous from week to week. It’s an interesting design choice and one that extends to most of the genre (even including the nearly-universal neon color schemes).

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