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The New York Times, Back On The Gossip Beat

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Last year after the Page Six scandal broke, I noted on HuffPo how much the New York Times seemed to revel in the story (six photos of Jared Paul Stern on the front page! Twelve reporters assigned to cover the story!). Yesterday ETP was reminded of that with the Sunday Styles section, where not one but two articles gleefully plumb the depths of the gossip industry, one jumping on the latest juicy allegation in the Page Six imbroglio and the other looking and the effect of glossy gossip mags on little girls.

The first, by Alex Williams, happily dives into last week's scurrilous allegation by Stern and former sixer Ian Spiegelman that Page Six honcho Richard Johnson had accepted an evelope of cash from restarateur Nello Balan. Except the allegation wasn't so scurrilous, after all — despite some quibbling over what funds went where at the Post, it was sort of right on the, er, money: $1000 straight to RIchard Johnson. "How much positive ink does a $1,000 gift to a gossip columnist buy?" wonders Williams, and proceeds to add it up, tracing the mentions of Keanu Reeves sipping wine here or David Duchovny and Téa Leoni nibbling there. Conclusion: $1000 buys a lot of ink at Page Six — not to mention a full-length story in the NYT Style section. (No wonder Nello Balan doesn't think there was anything wrong with it!)

Much thinner a read is the gossip-girls piece by Stephanie Rosenbloom, which provides the flipside to Newsweek's alarmist "Girls Gone Bad" cover of a few months back ("Are we raising a generation of 'prosti-tots'?"). Rosenbloom begs to differ, and offers up legions of 9-year-olds who may know their way around Britney's exposed nethers but are made of stern enough stuff to disavow such bad-girl antics. Her conclusion: Kids are safe, good breeding trumps, good kids can tell the difference. Also, the word "badonkadonk" is now officially in the NYT lexicon. Meanwhile, Sophia Ambrosino, 12 , of Manhattan, we're with you: We preferred Linsay Lohan in her "Parent Trap" days, too. Remember when this little girl couldn't do coke and crash up her car? Sigh.

Upshot: Gossip still A-OK at the NYT, as long as other people are dishing it. Alas, poor Boldface, we knew you well.

Burying the $1000 Lede: Richard Johnson, Jared Paul Stern, and the Latest Page Six Allegations [ETP]
Gossip at the New York Times, Above and Below the Fold [HuffPo]