Confessions Of A Tabloid Writer!: News I Wrote For The Tabloids!
Here's a great collection of the old-fashioned, bizarre stories. We will send you an SMS containing a verification code. Please double check your mobile number and click on "Send Verification Code". Enter the code below and hit Verify. Free Shipping All orders of Don't have an account? Update your profile Let us wish you a happy birthday! Walking down a long, narrow corridor, I made my way to suite I knocked and waited. The heavy blue door was flung open. Standing there was an attractive African-American woman who appeared to be in her early thirties.
Turning away, she led me into the lobby and continued. Dramatically waving her arm over the couch like a game show model, she asked me to take a seat.
Rather than receiving a traditional office tour or a formal introduction to the staff, I was handed a stack of magazines and told someone would be with me shortly. For the next forty-five minutes, I sat there flipping through the pages of Globe , wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into. Fortunately that moment marked the only time I would ever sit on the "outsider couch," reserved solely for sources and the endless string of auditioning reporters.
The lobby was a cold and forsaken place, with more of the intimidating paparazzi photos covering the walls. The furnishings were sparse. In addition to the uncomfortable loveseat, the room held a black slate reception desk. That desk remained empty throughout my years at Globe, during which the magazine never hired a receptionist. Instead, those duties were performed by Sharmin, who informed everyone that she was the "senior assistant to the bureau chief. How may I help you? Despite her claims of being overworked and underpaid, Sharmin was the office favorite.
Everyone adored her, especially the FedEx man, who blushed when she dropped enticing lines like, "Do you make afterhour deliveries? Somehow, Sharmin had even convinced upper management to grant her paid vacation time for any day related to minorities: Martin Luther King Jr.
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She loved to joke," Whose idea was it to put cotton in the top of a medicine bottle anyway? I say leave the cotton pickin' to the white man. Set my people free. With a mastery of multitasking, Sharmin could talk on the phone, write up leads, file her nails, and play computer solitaire, all at the same time. Ultimately, my friendship with Sharmin was one of the reasons I stayed in the industry.
But day one was another story. From the beginning, she had mentally written me off as "some rich white girl who won't last a week. Almost immediately, I sensed that I was disliked by the staff. Teamwork was nonexistent, and there was little opportunity to get to know one another. We only worked together when a predecessor had failed, or, on those rare occasions when assignments required us to blend as partners. The editors constantly reminded the reporters that they could not "afford" to have us sitting around.
This seemed odd, given the fact that the publishers were selling more than two million magazines each week. Yet we all knew that any reporter who did not produce regular leads would be fired. We were set up to become competitors, not teammates. It was a dog-eat-dog world and we were the dogs. It was that simple. Naturally these realizations only became clear to me over a period of time. From the moment Sharmin escorted me to my section, there were clues that I was entering a company of quick employee turnover.
Empty desks and barren bulletin boards hinted at a staff that could never completely settle into the system. The office was surprisingly quiet. There was little movement, except for the sound of typing and the occasional ringing phone. My long-anticipated visions of a frenzied newsroom, perfumed with the smell of cigarette smoke and black coffee, would have to remain a stereotypical image inside my head. White walls and black desks made the place look stark. In the main section, there were six desks, with three on each side of the open room, lined up one behind the other.
The small tabloid family was made up of only five staff reporters, nine editors, and three assistants. There was very little to know about her personal life, particularly since she didn't seem to have one. Commuting three hours from Santa Barbara every day, Madeline dedicated herself to Globe as if she also lived in fear of the tabloid guillotine. She came in early and left late. About five feet tall, she wore flat dress shoes, tan nylons, and bland skirts that hit directly below the knee on her pear-shaped body.
Her auburn hair was styled in a pixie cut, but I thought she was far from the magical Tinkerbell. Although her normal practice was to stay inside her office, she occasionally paced up and down the center aisle of the open room like a flight attendant, making sure that seat belts were fastened and tray tables were in their upright position. During these periodic appearances, she sprinkled her fairy threats of, "Leads, people! Where are your leads? She had hired me on a risk and could have fired me on a dime. Oddly enough, I felt indebted to her for employing me without journalistic credentials, tabloid experience, or an extensive portfolio.
Countless complaints bounced off the office walls, but none of them could accuse Madeline of a lack of commitment. Typically, this would be the appropriate time to say she took me under her wing and taught me everything I know about journalism. But that would not be true.
In reality, Madeline pushed me off the edge of Globe and forced me to fly alone. That first day should have given me a clue of what was to come. After sitting alone in Globe 's lobby for almost an hour, I timidly walked around the corner to Sharmin's desk. Sharmin's expression showed me that I had, in fact, been forgotten. As we walked through the office, the handful of reporters did not even glance up from their desks long enough to make eye contact.
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No words, waves, or smiles were exchanged. Sharmin led me to an empty desk at the back of the office. She handed me a second stack of magazines, including the latest issues of Globe, National Enquirer, and Star. Within that first hour, I read everything Sharmin had given me from cover to cover. The Enquirer further claimed that the encounter had been taped with a hidden camera.
But on my first day, I knew none of that. As a novice tabloid reporter, I had no idea what it meant to find "a source. Eager to start writing, I was desperate for some sort of direction. It's my first day. I'm a bit clueless, to be perfectly honest. Biting into his tuna sandwich, the reporter paused to finish his mouthful.
He wheeled his chair toward me and whispered. If you want to keep your job, I suggest you try to look busy. Maybe you can create a story from something a celebrity said in another interview. He wiped his mayonnaise-smudged mouth with the front of his sleeve. Other than Sharmin, Adam was the only person who spoke to me all day. From time to time, Madeline would pass my desk on the way to the conference room, but she never acknowledged my existence. I was beginning to wonder if I were invisible.
Although I was far removed from the world of celebrity gossip, everything seemed to be old news, even to me. One by one, the other reporters shut down their computers and left the office, calling it a day. Fearing my days at Globe were numbered, I drove home deep in thought. When people asked me how it had gone, I had no idea how to respond. It was one of the strangest days I had ever experienced in an office.
Day two was even worse. No one spoke to me, helped me, or guided me.
Confessions of a tabloid hack
The only change was on my desk, which now bore two pencils and a stenographer's notepad. Speed-reading through my list, she handed it back without giving me any direction. I walked out of her office feeling more defeated than encouraged. Day three was a repeat of the initial two, except for the appearance of a reporter seated in the desk beside me. Do you have Mondays and Tuesdays off? He laughed at the absurdity of my question. I've been on assignment in Texas. Do you know how much beef they have over there? I've never seen so many fat people in my life.
Pantomiming the headline in the air, he added, "'Farmers Rage: Oprah Ruined Our Lives! But I can't bother being tied up in here all day. Especially with that witch looking over my shoulder every five seconds. I would have left Globe long ago, but I'm signed on for a year. Patrick tapped his pencil on the desk. The tabs brought me over from the British papers a few months ago.
Supposedly I'm a roving editor, but I don't like that title. It makes me sound like a bit of a wanker. Then you can actually pretend to be busy. I glared at the enormous computer that was on my desk, similar to the one I had used in elementary school. It looked like it operated on the DOS system, controlled with turtle-slow arrow configurations rather than by a mouse.
I was surprised to learn that most of the office computers lacked Internet access. Looking back, this made the research process of tabloid journalism that much more remarkable. Further into the job, I was told that we were expected to rely on a file room for our data gathering.
Filled with newspaper clippings and magazine articles, it contained a file on nearly everyone in the entertainment industry. If the file library lacked the specific information we needed, we were to call Marsha Powell in the Florida office. She would then fact check everything from celebrity birthdates to their past flings. She single-handedly faxed reporters all of the requested information within minutes. Most of the time, tabloid journalists relied on sources for gathering information. At this point, I had not yet established any useful contacts. Lacking sources, I used my lunch breaks to research current celebrity Web pages from my home computer.
Some time later, Globe installed dial-up Internet, which gave me an added level of job security. Oddly enough, in this office of old-school veterans, anyone who knew how to operate e-mail was considered computer savvy. In their words, the Internet was "much too technical. Patrick turned off his computer as if calling it a day. Denying facts was almost a sport for Trump, and extended even to mundane matters. While still married to his first wife, Ivana, Trump bought a mansion in Connecticut, and she decorated parts of it.
Not the most earth-shattering news, but hey, everyone has slow days. When I called to confirm the purchase, Trump denied it, more than once. Sure enough, before long, he was spending weekends in the mansion, parts of which were decorated by Ivana. Did he think twice about such a seemingly pointless lie? But I learned to appreciate his value as a source. Cohn gave stories to reporters all over the city at both conservative and liberal media outlets; he was an equal opportunity leaker, and mostly a reliable one.
He would even give you stories about his clients, like Trump. Trump had a temporary summer membership—not difficult to obtain, according to Brady.
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But when Trump expressed interest in becoming a permanent member, he was told, discreetly, not to bother because he would not be accepted. Brady wrote the story, after which Trump called him in a profane fury, threatening to sue Brady, the Post , Murdoch—anyone and everyone. It was just Donald being Donald, Cohn said. Real estate developers often have large profiles in New York, which makes sense: In a city where location is everything, and where real estate developers can be savvier about politics than politicians, they run the place.
But when Trump first emerged as a force in the city, he was clearly a different, more outsized breed, a sharp contrast to someone like Lew Rudin, whose family business owned, and still owns, many buildings in Manhattan. He even founded the Association for a Better New York. Trump is the founder of the Association for Me, Myself, and I—the only entities he has ever promoted.