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The Ringer
In the February 18 newsletter:
Welcome to a special edition of our newsletter dedicated to Clare Malone's new podcast, Just Like Us, which explores the rise of tabloid culture in the early aughts.

Join us for a Q&A with Clare Malone, host of Just Like Us: The Tabloids That Changed America

What is Just Like Us?
Clare Malone: In its simplest form, Just Like Us is a look at the first decade of the 2000s as told through tabloid media, which was going through an incredible boom during that decade. We look at the big couples and story lines and talk about where America's head was at during that time! I think you learn a lot about people and their values through the way they think about scandal and celebrity—I was also a teenager during this period, so a lot of this show has been about excavating my teenage brain and the weird hangups I'm pretty sure too much trash-magazine-reading stuck me with. The show also takes us through a huge change in our society, which is the rise of the internet. So, we talk about the way that gossip blogs and sites like TMZ disrupted traditional gossip publications, but the way that they started to train readers to see the world differently.

What is the most fascinating thing you learned while researching for JLU?
CM: I think the part of the show I found most fascinating to research and report on was the paparazzi industry in general. Just learning about the way people in the profession work (a lot of lone wolves), the intense competition they feel with each other, and the absolutely ridiculous things that they all do in order to take photos was pretty amazing to get into. Obviously there are a lot of ethical concerns in that industry, and we talk about all that on the show. But as a trade and a profession, I just found it to be really sort of wild and interesting to dive into.

Which episode are you most excited for people to hear and why?
CM: I guess given the way I answered the last question, I'll say Episode 2, which is all about the paparazzi industry! But I would also say that Episode 3, on Brangelina, has some really great behind-the-scenes storytelling on the reporting that brought us the news of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt's earth-shattering split.

Who’s your favorite tabloid subject from the early 2000s?
CM: I think I've got to go with Paris Hilton, in part because tabloid stories about her were inevitably about, like, six other people. She was always feuding with someone, dating someone new, or making her random rich friends TMZ-famous. So, she's a real tabloid "convener" in that sense.

Who’s your favorite tabloid subject today?
CM: I mean, I'm a sucker for Bennifer 2.0. They are everywhere, they go on boats (even though she won't let him take a picture that shows his terrible back tattoo), they make out on red carpets—they are just game for it all. But this time around, it feels like they're older and wiser and more in control. I'm a romantic! I like that things are working out. 

Anything else you think people should know about JLU?
I hope you listen to Just Like Us in the spirit that I made it, which is trying to have some fun and also be thoughtful about our national pastime of gossiping about celebs. I thought of the series as a palate-cleanser, given some of the rough news that we've had the past couple of years, and I hope it can be a smart escape for listeners, too.

Listen to the first two episodes of Just Like Us

"Stars—They're Just Like Us!"
US Weekly
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