For better or worse, the popularity of gossip blogs changed the way mainstream outlets cover celebrity in 2007

By Tim Stack
December 21, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

How Perez Hilton led the media charge in ’07

How many times a day do you go online to check it? Once? Twice? Personally, I can’t go without visiting at least three times daily. But I’m not ashamed. Knowing who Brody Jenner hooked up with at Opera last night or what color baby Uggs Nicole Richie bought yesterday at Kitson is oddly comforting. Useless knowledge, sure, but surprisingly compelling. If Hollywood is high school, like so many celebs claim, then Perez,, and even YouTube are the digital equivalent of the writing on the girls’-bathroom wall, littered with secrets, rumors, and bitchery.

But this year, those scribbles graduated to the front page of the school paper. Yes, these outlets of the tawdry, the titillating, and the tabloid have finally broken through the ”legitimate” news- source barrier: In 2007, more than 2,000 news stories were sourced to TMZ. With attention spans dwindling and the appetite for celeb gossip only growing, blogs like Hilton’s are increasingly making fast, furious, and famous the marching orders of the mainstream media. Witness the attention placed on — to name just one of 2007’s many train wrecks — Paris Hilton’s summer jail term. Helicopters. Up-to-the-minute news alerts. Scrums of reporters. Larry King. In their desperate rush to keep up with bloggers like Perez — who, by the way, sat in for a chat with the ladies of The View and had his first VH1 special, What Perez Sez…, this year — respectable news outlets flushed Ms. Hilton’s saga out of the tabloid brush and into the spotlight, where it became a major story.

Gossip is not a new phenomenon, of course. And our burning desire to know whether Britney ran a red light while going chandelier shopping for the third time in one week may eventually flame out. Or not: In July, the month Lindsay Lohan was arrested (again), had 60 million page views — a big number for a blog. Perhaps we should appeal to the celebs themselves to change things. Might we suggest that the badly behaved among you clean yourselves up for the sake of the ever-clicking cameras? Or, heaven forbid, stay inside and order delivery instead of driving drunkenly and sans underwear to Popeyes? Then again, we must admit that a cleaner, gentler Hollywood wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.