Whatever happened to the National Enquirer?

Grove says, “The National Enquirer, over the last couple of years, has been what Donald Trump would call a failing publication. Its circulation consistently plunged year after year. Its revenues, through newsstand sales principally, have likewise plunged, and the journalism, which years ago attracted so much attention, is no longer doing that.”

For decades, the Enquirer’s circulation was in the millions. The death spiral, Grove says, began with the advent of the internet. The key distribution spot was no longer in supermarkets—it was on people’s computers and smartphones. “They just never got a coherent strategy to deal with online news,” he explains. “They never really understood it, they didn’t know how to take advantage of it, and that’s principally why they find themselves in the trouble they are in today.”

The internet’s assault on the gossip industry came in two phases. Phase 1 was when online outlets like TMZ started beating the Enquirer at its own game—paying sources, enlisting spies in courthouses and hospitals, and catching celebrities in their worst moments. Phase 2 came when those celebrities turned the tables. Now, Grove says, “celebrities themselves control their own images through their Instagram accounts, which are far more powerful than magazines that are distributed at newsstands and often charge a very aggressive price.”