In the 16 years I’ve been on the celebrity journalism beat, I’ve learned a lot about glamour, fame, wealth, and life in general. Covering this beat- meaning, following the lives of the rich and famous- has been quite a ride.
This kind of journalism started in the early ’80s, primarily covering movies, but by the mid-’90s, it had spread to fields as diverse as fashion and politics, sports and corporates — every area of life where wealth and fame can be found. Inevitably, this brought a whole new dimension to media in general. Big brands turned to celebrity endorsements and fame brought in bigger money than ever before.
When I started my career in journalism, I hadn’t intended to cover films. My dream was to cover politics. Circumstances forced me into the glamour beat and, though I questioned myself once or twice, telling myself that if I truly wanted to get on the political beat, I should do it fast, I realised that the kind of contacts I’d built up covering films were too good to just throw away. No matter that film journalism then was not seen as real journalism. I stuck to the beat, watched it grow, and grew with it myself.
Here are the seven lessons I’ve learned in my time as a celebrity journalist:
It’s cut-throat business
In the glamour industry ethics are rare, and when they do exist, they are selective. So it’s possible to connect with genuine sincerity and honesty immediately.
Hard work pays
Just as Shah Rukh Khan did when he first started, you need to work hard and sincerely. Don’t think that certain things are beneath you. Starting small is nothing to be ashamed of. Think of Raju Hirani. He was a movie editor and slogged it out as an assistant director to Vidhu Vinod Chopra. And look at him now.
The PR is not your friend
The advice for any young journalist in the field – remember that celebrity publicists are not your friends. Your job and their jobs are completely different. You are both professionals, but from opposite sides of the business.
The glam world is all about style. Cultivate it if it’s not inherent. It is taken very seriously in this business. It reflects confidence, power and, most importantly, your passion. And it has added benefits — you walk the red carpet with the stars.
Stars are lonely
Even though they are surrounded by their entourage, they are essentially lonely souls. They are people, just like you and me. Reach out to them on a human level and you might just make a friend.
Don’t be star-struck
Love, like and respect celebrities, but never be star-struck. They will not take you seriously.
Always have a clear point of view when you talk to them. Be respectful but fearless, and they will respect you too. Remember: as a journalist, you’re doing a job. Also remember that it’s about the good times, but it isn’t easy.
- The writer is the Entertainment Editor of HT Café