Celebrities in Florida
Covering Florida's celebrities: Somebody's got to do it
'It's hard, man,' says the founder of an online gossip website.
Among his best scoops, Jose Lambiet counts Bill Gates buying a house in Wellington and O.J. Simpson's Miami house going into foreclosure.
On a recent day on GossipExtra.com, "South Florida's Online Tabloid," you could find stories on a Miami superstar sports agent's divorce, the birth of a baby being celebrated by a local pro golfer, financial disclosures of a Palm Beach Town Council candidate and the latest from a former high school student caught up in a Palm Beach-based sex scandal: "Palm Beach Perv Jeffrey Epstein Wanted Me to Have His Baby!"
Celebrities make great fodder for gossip writers, but writing gossip can be a tough living, as GossipExtra founder Jose Lambiet reports. "It's hard, man," he says, of his $100,000 a year in revenue business, but "I finally see light at the end of the tunnel."
Lambiet, who also writes weekly for the Miami Herald, is a graduate of one of the nation's top journalism schools, Northwestern University. He worked for the New York Daily News and, as a gossip writer, for the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, the Star and National Enquirer and the Palm Beach Post. He started GossipExtra in 2011. He says it draws 400,000 readers a month.
He shoots for a local story so good people nationally will find it entertaining. A lot depends on his memory of local celebs and arcane facts — he knows, for example, that Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh live a couple miles apart on Palm Beach and share the same birthday, Jan. 12. He's also good at public records Digging, and he relies on concierges and cab and limo drivers. "Everybody always has a story to tell," he says.
Revenue comes from ads Lambiet sells himself and from ads that come, to his dismay because of their low prices, from Google. "My ultimate goal is never to look at a Google ad again," he says. Like web publishers everywhere, don't get him going on how little advertisers are willing to pay to be on a website compared to a newspaper with circulation a fraction of the site's visitors.