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Professor dishes dirt on celebrity blogs in new book

Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Professor dishes dirt on celebrity blogs in new book
By Katie Land, news editor


Even the Kardashians may have a hard time keeping up with Oakland University’s Dr. Erin Meyers.

Her new book “Dishing Dirt in the Digital Age: Celebrity Gossip Blogs and Participatory Media Culture,” examines the ever-changing role of celebrity culture in the new media landscape, and hit bookshelves nationwide on Tuesday, April 30.

“Celebrity culture, whether you love it or hate it, is a huge part of our popular media landscape,” Dr. Meyers said.

“My book attempts to historicize the shifts in celebrity media and culture by tracing the rise of the celebrity gossip blog and investigating how celebrity culture functions within these spaces as a way for audiences to make sense of everyday life through gossip.”

In “Dishing Dirt in the Digital Age,” Dr. Meyers examines the burst of online celebrity gossip in the mid-2000s as a game changer, a period of time that allowed audiences to track – and engage in -- every mundane moment of a celebrity’s life in unprecedented ways.


“This rise of audience power is part of a broader shift in media culture where audiences are taking a more visible and powerful role in creating content, in ways that often seem to give us a lot of power and control over our media engagements, but actually hide the ways that such power reproduces the same sorts of dominant norms we've long seen in media culture,” she explained.

Dr. Meyers' conclusions are the result of extensive research, including in-depth online fieldwork, blogger interviews, and a qualitative on-line survey for blog readers, designed to uncover the range of audience practices and engage “lurkers,” blog readers who view posts but do not interact in online forums.

New media and digital forms are constantly changing, which makes for an added challenge when seeking publication, Dr. Meyers said.

“However, it's important to remember that a technological change to a website doesn't necessarily mean a change to how audiences engage with that site, how or why they talk about celebrities or the potential for social stereotypes to circulate through gossip talk,” she continued. “New media didn't create celebrity gossip, but it did make those audience practices more visible and increasingly powerful in terms of shaping how we talk about celebrities in everyday life.”

The assistant professor of communication has just wrapped her second year at Oakland, and has already nabbed two new courses in her field of study. Dr. Meyers will teach COM 350: Popular Media in the Age of Convergence in the Summer II and Winter 2014 semesters, and will teach The Honors College course HC 201: Stardom and Celebrity in American Culture this fall.

For more information or to purchase Dr. Meyers' book, “Dishing Dirt in the Digital Age: Celebrity Gossip Blogs and Participatory Media Culture,” view her work at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with nearly 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. To learn more about academics, events, and achievements at OU, visit the news site at oakland.edu/newsatou and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.