Q&A: The Gossip Blogger With a Conscience
In the August 14 issue of the New Yorker, Nicholas Lemann says, "Great citizen journalism is like the imagined Northwest Passage it has to exist in order to prove that citizens can learn about public life without the mediation of professionals." If the measure of a successful citizen journalist is popularity, then Trent Vanegas comes out on top. Without any media background whatsoever, Vanegas has created a celebrity gossip blog Pink Is the New Blog that has become a favorite among celebrities, their publicists and the average American, bringing the blog over 200,000 visitors a month. Writing with tact, Vanegas fills his posts with entertaining captions and star-studded images superimposed with tongue-in-cheek thought bubbles. Vanegas recently moved to Los Angeles, where he will continue to post to Pink Is the New Blog while pursuing other interests.
When did you start Pink Is The New Blog and why?
I started Pink Is the New Blog in June 2004, but it was actually an offshoot of my original blog that I started in August of 2002. The whole reason I started blogging in the first place was because I wanted to get into the habit of writing every single day, and I thought that if I did it online, and if there was an audience even if the audience as small as my parents and my friends who I made read my blog that I would have this sort of commitment to writing. So the original purpose was just for me to exercise this thing I wanted to do. I wanted to write every day and because I only know to write from my perspective, I would naturally write about movies and music that were interesting to me at the time. Iím such a huge fan of celebrity and pop culture that it grew into my daily writing and evolved into what it is today. I didnít set out to do this intentionally it just happened and I just feel very fortunate that it did.
You take the stance of being more tame than a lot of other celebrity blogs. Do you have the audience in mind, or do you care what the celebrities think?
I donít know. Itís so difficult. Iíve thought about this so many times, and thereís no way that I could please everybody. If Iím trying to make a joke, say the whole elbow-in-the-ribs thing about Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, everything canít be sugar-coated. Sometimes youíve got to just go with it and make the joke. I canít really be worried if celebrities get the joke or not. I have been fortunate that all the celebrities that Iíve met have been very nice to me. Theyíve told me they like the website, they think itís funny and they get the jokes. Cameron Diaz once told me that it doesnít go too far and thatís what she likes about it. Cameron Diaz is one of the celebrities Iím a little harder on because she doesnít like doing autographs and she doesnít like getting her picture taken, which I find completely annoying when youíre a celebrity. In the early days, you want people to buy your product and you want people to follow you, but when they become rich and famous they donít have time for regular people anymore, which I find really irritating. For her to say to me that itís funny and she gets it is a great compliment she gets that I have fun with it and Iím not trying to be mean-spirited.
Letís talk about the celebrity craze in America. Itís at a point bordering on ridiculous. Others have argued that this obsession with the fabulous is part of the dumbing down of America. What is your reaction to that?
I donít know if thatís necessarily where that comes from. My whole theory is that the rise of reality TV is when the fever-pitch need for celebrity news started rising as well. Reality TV breaks down the barrier between being a regular person and being a celebrity. One day youíre a college student and the next day youíre on the Real World and people recognize you all over the world. I think the rise of reality TV is what really has fueled the fire and made the insatiable need to know and to be one of those celebrities even more rampant.... The fast-paced way information is able to be delivered just throws gasoline onto the fire and makes it blaze more.
Why do you think your blog is better than other celebrity blogs?
I try to give it a little personality, to inject as much of me into it as I can. I donít necessarily cater the text toward audiences, but I kind of feel like Iím talking with them. I try to make it very conversational and put in everyday speech. I donít say "holla" and I donít say "yíall," but I think it gives it a more familial feel. People feel like theyíre reading a friendís website, and thatís what I try to have in mind with every single post.
Let's talk about the future; what do you see for Pink?
I see no end to it. I see no reason to think that it wonít go forever. Itís still very much a fun thing for me... I reached a point two or three years in where I hadnít missed a day and I was like, "Iím just going to see how far I can go." That sort of "work ethic" is what has led me to where I am right now... Thereís always something to talk about. I try and make it interesting because itís interesting to me. But yes, there are only so many Paris Hilton stories you can talk about.