Like many recent graduates of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, David Hauslaib is seeking a job in magazine publishing.
In the meantime, instead of temping, waiting tables or living off the fat of his family, the 21-year-old Hauslaib shovels snark for a living. Of course, it’s not easy to convince an editor to hire you when you’ve just insulted him on your website.
Hauslaib is the founder, publisher, editor and sole employee of Jossip, a site with a tag line that reads, “Celebrity and media gossip and news.” On it, he trashes Paris Hilton and razzes The New York Times, takes potshots at Michael Moore and homophobic critics of SpongeBob SquarePants, dishes dirt on pretty boy Fabian Basabe (who married La Perla lingerie heiress Martina Borgomanero) and spanks mainstream reporters for engaging in what he regards as “duh” journalism.
Writing in first-person plural, Hauslaib uses “we” even though it’s just “he” behind the screen. That way he can pretend to employ a full staff he willingly underpays — just like at a real publisher. Although there is some original content, most of Hauslaib’s material consists of links to existing articles, to which he adds a vitriolic paragraph or two. In essence, he’s a gossip aggregator.
Like many writers whose blogs morphed into other ventures, Hauslaib figured he could take his sharp-toothed commentary and turn it into a full-fledged, for-profit online publishing operation. His inspiration was Gawker, the web’s first media gossip site. Now, a little more than a year after its launch, Jossip (journalism + gossip, get it?) attracts a respectable 75,000 unique visitors a month — most of them regulars, although he claims that Google sends a fair amount of traffic his way from people searching for images of “Paris Hilton” and “sex.”
He would characterize his readers as culturally savvy, interested in the racism that he says pervades Abercrombie & Fitch and Bonnie Fuller’s tantrums (she’s the editorial chief of American Media, which publishes The National Enquirer and Star). Many are apt to be celebrities, nightclub owners, socialites, restaurateurs, talent representatives and venture capitalists, as well as the usual gossip voyeurs. This means they are hipper than your typical National Enquirer subscriber. Site visitors can submit stories and tips and will often return to see whether an item they wrote makes it up. “It’s part of the ‘in the know’ feeling that makes readers feel warm and fuzzy when the Maker’s Mark wears off,” Hauslaib said.