Michael K and Jared Eng Are As Different As Night and Day, but They're Both Leaders in a New Wave of Celebrity Gossip. For those unfamiliar with good-natured celebrity news site JustJared.com and the supremely smutty gossip blog Dlisted.com, the author of the latter, who goes by Michael K, offers this comparison: "JustJared is like the best seat at an Outback Steakhouse and I'm a takeout carton from Chili's To Go." In other words, overindulging in either can leave you feeling a bit queasy, and one is nicer than the other.
Although JustJared, founded and edited by Jared Eng, and Dlisted's voices couldn't be more different -- Eng refers to Britney Spears as a "pop princess" while K's dubbed her "Our Lady of Cheetos" -- they're both shepherds of a new wave of online celebrity gossip, driven less by hysterical headlines and dubious quotes from anonymous sources who are "close to the actress" and more by their own personal tastes. In the six years they've both been around, JustJared and Dlisted have gone from the personal blogs of two unknown pop-culture obsessives to full-fledged entities with readership in the millions, even at times surpassing Web gossip titan Perez Hilton.
Here, both men reveal more about their sites, their styles and what happens when Tina Fey starts reading.
How they found their voices: Jared Eng: When I started blogging from the angle of, "All I'm doing is putting information out there without opinion," the JustJared voice was formed. I like letting other people be the ones to judge. I don't need to say that someone is wearing an ugly outfit -- if it's ugly people will see that it's ugly. Michael K: I used to be really blunt and say whatever the fuck I wanted to. I go back and read old posts and I'm like, "This sounds like porn." Now I try to sprinkle a little sugar on what I write. When people write in and are like, "OK, that went too far," I take that into consideration and use that to tweak things along the way.
Writing about celebrities with problems: JE: With Charlie Sheen, I think we did four or five stories about it, whereas other sites were covering every single little development. That's not JustJared culture. I don't like covering the downward spirals of celebrities. I like to build people up. MK: Everyone thinks Christina Aguilera has a problem, but I don't know what the problem is! People get drunk when they go out. If there was a camera following me around, it would be capturing the same things. I always like celebrities more when they're messes. I find it endearing. It shows that these people aren't perfect.
How they set themselves apart from other sites: JE: Original reporting usually involves salacious stuff, which isn't our angle. We focus more on innocuous things like what people are wearing. But we'll find out as many things as we can before we post a story to give it a full, 360-feel. A lot of people will just throw up a picture and say "Here's this person at this event," but we do a little digging. MK: I try not to write about anything political, and children are a fine line. If they're photographed without their parents, then I won't post that. But I also like to be creative. If you have a set of photos and there's no story to go with it, then you have to make up your own. You can't just say, "Here's Maddox [Jolie-Pitt] wearing a white T-shirt." You need to create a story that's entertaining. On the other hand, I then basically end up writing fan fiction about four-year-olds, which is a little bit creepy.
To hang out with celebrities or not to hang out with celebrities: JE: I like going out and seeing people I know who can then introduce me to people that I haven't met. Now that I'm going to more and more events, people just feel comfortable talking to me. [I've hung out with] Miley Cyrus, Kate Bosworth, Kirsten Dunst and Rachel Bilson at events. MK: I used to get invited to parties and I don't go anymore because I don't want to meet someone and then feel like I can't write about them.