When Caroline Flack’s death hit headlines just weeks ago, it left many in a state of shock. Eyes widened and stomachs dropped with the unpleasant ring of that news notification. When her suicide note was released it read: ‘My truth has been taken out of my hands and used for entertainment’.
The few days of public mourning soon dissolved into ones of anger. The blame had to be pointed somewhere, and media outlets were in the firing line. Almost 30 complaints about Mail Online alone were made to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, and members of the public demanded a change to ‘out of order’ gossip-style media.
Just recently a salon in Devon decided to scrap gossip magazines all together after realizing their negative impact. Head stylist Nikki Evans, 35, stated that: “We decided as a salon to bin the gossip magazines and will no longer be offering these at the salon. With the devastating news about Caroline, we no longer promote magazines that slate people, put people down, advertise people’s personal problems, the list goes on.”
Nikki has worked at the Boutique Hair and Nail Salon for 12 years now. In that time, she’s collected endless hoards of gossip magazines for her clients to browse through. But Caroline’s death has changed her opinion on things, and she’s not alone.
“I’ve had loads of support from my customers, and I won’t be reading those trashy magazines anymore. They have such a bad effect on mental health. I just hope it’s made people realize”, Mrs Evans said.
Just searching for Caroline’s name online brings up blank spaces where she was once slandered. Many gossip-news sites rushed to take down shameful content in an effort to remove any associations with blame. ‘Monster’, ‘evil woman’ and ‘boyfriend-beater’ were just a few of the names thrown around about the well-known TV personality days before her death.
This isn’t the first time that gossip-media has been slated for its insensitivity. Back in 2008, OK! Magazine saw sales drop to 480,000 copies after buying rights to Jade Goody’s wedding. Readers felt
conflicted about the invasion of privacy so shortly after Jade’s cancer diagnosis. Kate Middleton’s leaked nude photos and Britney Spears’ publicised breakdown serve as few more examples of how gossip media has previously pushed the limit.
Kim Gregory, senior features writer for Take a Break, has a different opinion. She’s written an abundance of magazine pieces over the years, and says it’s not about who supplies the content, but who demands it.
She said: “We have to go on what the readers want, so I don’t always think it’s fair to blame journalists. If we didn’t write the shocking headlines to sell the stories then no one would buy them. It’s just the way things work unfortunately.”
It seems the tragic death of Caroline Flack might’ve come as a wake-up call to journalists more than anyone else. There are valid points to both sides of the argument, but with such a large backlash from the public, the future of gossip-media seems uncertain.
5 times gossip media went too far:
- Britney Spears’ public breakdown: In 2007, paparazzi took advantage of popular singer Britney Spears after she publicly shaved her head. She made headlines across gossip media worldwide and was labelled as ‘crazy’.
- £92,000 worth of damages were awarded to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after a French edition of Closer published topless images of Kate Middleton in 2012. The article featured private pictures of the couple on holiday under the caption “Oh My God!”
- In 2009, OK! magazine bought the rights to Jade Goody’s wedding shortly after her cancer diagnosis. They were heavily criticised for their invasion of privacy, publishing the details of the wedding just one month before Jade’s death.
- When Michael Jackson was photographed dangling his child over a hotel balcony in 2002, it controversially made headlines in gossip media worldwide. Many were critical of the media for publishing this though, as Michael’s mental state at the time was questioned.
- Nigella Lawson grabbed by ex-husband Charles Saatchi: Images went viral after Nigella was seen to be grabbed by the throat at a London restaurant, but many criticised the invasion of privacy.