Welcome to Graphing the Gossip, a regular segment where we take a good hard look at celebrity gossip and the media machine that drives it. Which celebs are getting buzz and why? We look at the graphs produced by Pop Salad — the celebrity game that scores celebs based on their media coverage — and look for interesting patterns in how the sites we love cover the celebs we love-hate.
Justin Bieber slaps a paparazzo and no one cares until TMZ gets back from vacation
On Sunday evening, following a movie date with girlfriend Selena Gomez, JB got into a physical altercation with a paparazzo who was standing in front of his car. This is really exciting news, because it’s the first hint Justin’s given us, the human race, that he might in fact be one of us. It’s also great because we get to watch journalists climb all over each other to prove that they know how to make “paparazzi” a singular noun.
But the best part of this story is that it took almost a day for it to break. The image below is JB’s Pop Salad graph for the whole month of May. The arrow here indicates mid-day on May 27, when the event took place:
But that was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, and all the people who create your 24-hour news cycle were drinking margaritas on a boat far from a cell phone signal. Even TMZ didn’t pick up on the story until nearly 3 hours after a handful of bloggers posted photos of Justin post-altercation. You could argue that TMZ was waiting for confirmation on the story — but it seems unlikely that, on a normal workday, it would have taken TMZ three hours to vet a story with so many accesible witnesses. By the time they ran the story, it was nearly midnight on the east coast.
Here’s a zoomed-in look at this graph: The story didn’t really break into the mainstream until mid-day on Monday, nearly 24 hours after Justin Bieber hit a photographer.
The takeaway is one that celebs and their publishers have known for ages: If you want to bury news, release it on a holiday weekend. Team Bieber moved full steam ahead with the release of his “Die in Your Arms” single on Tuesday, and so far not a single journo has managed a headline combining the song’s title with JB’s newfound aggressive streak. We’re taking your attempts at it in the comments.
Keira Knightley reminds us to announce the engagement first, show off the ring later
Let this serve as a warning to those of you who announce your engagement on Facebook by posting a picture of the ring. This is not how you maximize engagement-related attention!
On May 25, Keira Knightley’s publicist confirmed that the 27-year-old actress was engaged to rocker James Righton, skyrocketing Keira’s value to over 150,000. Then the buzz died down … until she was spotted walking arm-in-arm with her beau, rocking that bling. A look at the ring launched a second wave of press about the engagement — enough to take Keira back over the 100,000 mark.
And all on a holiday weekend? Well done, Ms. Knightley. Congratulations to you and your beau!
The media prefers a good feud to a good song … right, Madonna?
In a YouTube video that has since been pulled on a copyright claim, MDNA reportedly transitioned smoothly from “Express Yourself” into Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” at rehearsals for a Tel Aviv show. It’s no secret that the two songs are similar both in sound and message, but it’s not clear if Madonna was taking a shot at Gaga or just goofing around during what she thought was an unobserved moment.
It is entirely clear what the media wants it to be: rumors of a feud between mainstay Madge and not-so-up-and-comer-anymore Gaga drove Madonna to over 90,000 — by far her highest score in recent months.
For what it’s worth, news of a Madge feud worked even better for Gaga buzz, driving her score over 120,000 — although she never spends much time under 100,000 anyway.
We hope you learned something useful about the media during this edition of Graphing the Gossip. Notice an interesting pattern in celebrity media coverage that you’d like to see discussed here? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Main image via here.