The Wide World of Washington Gossip

There’s a war raging here in DC.  Battles are being fought daily nightly hourly. Tongues are wagging, whispers are being shared, text messages are being keyed in, Twitterers are tweeting, and BlackBerry cameras are flashing.  Just who is fighting this fight? Why … it’s the Washington gossip columnists of course.

Once upon a time, in a much simpler time, in a land very much unlike the one we live in today, there was really only one gossip column in the nation’s capital.  The Post’s “Reliable Source.  If your name was in the RS, you were most likely the President, the child of the President, someone keeping company with the President, a politician, a diplomat, an ambassador, a Hollywood celebrity, a NY celebrity, a business leader, a philanthropist, or just REALLY RICH. And gossip this column did. No holds barred. No blushing. No bashfulness.  Hey, regular people couldn’t get to any of those folks whose names and faces appeared in boldface type in the inky paper. But, we could certainly tip the RS off if we knew of some misbehavin’ (read: dancing on tables at Smith Point as secret service sat in the Georgetown alleys).

Times have changed. Oh, have they changed. First, there were the blogs. Then there were the socially focused magazines and publications. Then came the gossip columns in the political rags. Then there was Twitter. Now there’s the WEBSITES of the socially focused magazines and publications, the WEBSITES of the gossip columns in the political rags, the WEBSITES that aggregate all of the above and everyone is Tweeting and blogging. By the way, all of these events overlapped each other.

Is there more to gossip about now in DC than back during the days when we rushed to our front door, not caring about the black ink on our fingertips as we eagerly paged through to find out what Politician/CEO/Philanthropist/Actor in town/President’s Daughter/President’s intern had done what, when and with whom and where.  I think so. We’ll always have the old guard to chit chat about, but now, we’ve seen an influx of A-list (and C-list) Hollywood actors, directors, producers hit the Hill.  We’ve seen films being shot in town, movies being screened with the stars at the show.  We’ve seen them walking in and out of card stores in Georgetown, hanging out in clubs, sitting at sporting events.  We’ve seen them hang out with us, you know, the regular people because there are so many more parties and events being held.

So, for one, there are more celebrities in and out of DC. Two, they are more and more accessible. This provides never ending fodder.  Three, all of the bloggers (I’m not denying I am one of these people), gossip columnists, and social magazines and publications are most likely to be physically near these celebrities to catch a quote, photo, video and certainly take note of who was in the room and any curious behavior.  In fact, there’s strength in numbers.  Because it’s virtually impossible to cover every event each evening, many share tips, photos, information and often link back to sites. Hey, we are all friends, right (in actuality, we really are all friends and do like to help each other)?

Friends yes, but let’s be frank.  The battle of the best continues to wage because when it comes right down to it, it’s a job and performance is key.  Being scooped or being unaware is not acceptable.  If your boss (or readers) sees your competition is getting better photos and information, that’s not a good thing.  If you have a reputation for producing the best and are the fastest in putting up what happened and have a unique angle, then you win.

So who are those who are battling it out? One such competitor is The Hill’s The Washington Scene (Christina Wilkie) whose site just went live today.  Then we have POLITICO CLICK (Kiki Ryan, Patrick Gavin, Anne Schroeder Mullins) which started a few months ago.  Kiki and Patrick both worked previously at The Examiner‘s Yeas and Nays with Jeff Dufour, who left to go to Urban Daddy DC. Yeas and Nays are now Nikki Schwab and Tara Palmeri.  We also have Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover of The Washington Times’ Green & Glover Undercover.  Lest I forget to mention the original, Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts the current duo behind The Reliable Source. MediaBistro FishbowlDC has Christine Delargy and Matt Dornic. Washington Whispers of U.S. News and World Report is Paul Bedard. There’s also Janet Donovan‘s Hollywood on the Potomac and Carol Joynt‘s Washington Social Diary.  Of course, there’s the Wonkette, Scene Bisnow, Washington Life, DC, Capitol File, all the blogs, and so many more ways to give tips, get good gossip, and see photos of celebrities in DC and from out of town.  I’m certain I’ve forgotten few.

I think one major factor in the onslaught of more people to cover gossip and the Washington social scene in general is technology. Technology has created a world where instantaneously the media can get the dish and give the dish.  There’s a barrage of information being put up on websites with videos, photos, links.  The gossip is being Tweeted.  There is no time to waste.  So yes, while we certainly have a lot more to talk about in DC than in the one-gossip-column-town days, the way in which we give and receive it has changed the landscape even more so.

It will be interesting to see how this gossip and social scene in Washington continues to morph.  What will be next? Large scale digital screens all over town for livestreaming videos? Hmmmm. Now there’s an idea…

About Pamela Sorensen:
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.