Supermarket Tabs Zip Lips p.16

By: DOROTHY GIOBBE THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER and the Star furiously dish dirt on Lonnie and Burt, Nicole's secret diaries, and weight-swinging Oprah, but when it comes to the tabloids' own secrets, mum's the word.
At least officially. American Media, the newspapers' Florida-based parent, has decreed that all 400 employees must sign a confidentiality agreement. The agreement bars staffers from airing the company's dirty laundry for up to five years after they leave the newspapers.
If it seems an abrupt change of pace for publications that revel in revealing star-powered tempestuous trysts, think again.
Editors say they're just trying to protect their exclusive scoops from vulture-like competitors.
"We're sick and tired of the media ripping off our advance stories," Enquirer editor Steve Coz told the Washington Post. "It's absurd. It damages our sales . . . . We're trying to maintain our competitive edge."
Corporate counsel Harvey Blicksilver told E&P that the rip-offs are "especially true with the television celebrity programs, where in some cases, they show photos of our issue which hasn't even hit the stands yet. How they get those has become a source of concern to us."
The agreement, leaked to the Post, reads in part, "During the period of my employment and for 5 years thereafter, I further promise not to write, speak, or give interviews about, either directly or indirectly, on or off the record, my work at the Company . . . for purposes of publication in any media in any way, directly or indirectly, without prior written approval of the Company."
Blicksilver insists that the newspapers are akin to other top-secret operations ? and must command the same level of confidentiality.
"We're a business like any other ? it's just that simple," he said. "We believe that as a condition of employment, employees not give away our company secrets, or our trade secrets. There's a difference between the celebrities we write about and someone who is employed by the company."
Hinting that the company doesn't want public disclosure of its extensive network of paid sources, Blicksilver added, "There have been people who have written books and have disclosed confidential information about the way a company like ours operates . . . . "
In addition to the Enquirer and Star, American Media owns the Weekly World News, and Soap Opera Digest.
?(The National Enquirer and its sister supermarket tab, the star, furiously dish dirt, but when it comes to the tabloid's own secrets, mum's the word.) [Photo & Catpion]


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