Exactly how one Australian magazine gets away with entirely fabricated celebrity stories.

It feels like every second week Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are getting back together.

Or Angelina Jolie is having a mental health crisis.

Or Lily Allen is heading to rehab.

You see, there’s a whole industry of tabloid magazines who thrive on piecing together fabricated stories about our favourite celebs in order to sell issues.

This isn’t a well-kept secret. Many people inside and outside of the media industry know the “sources” quoted in these type of stories often don’t exist in real life.

But now Media Watch has broken down exactly how these magazines get away with it.

how tabloid magazines work
Separate Getty images of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Image: ABC.
how tabloid magazines work
How the images were manipulated in NW magazine. Image: ABC.

In an explosive report on Monday night's episode, host Paul Barry explained how NW magazine allegedly fabricates some of its stories. The show's host explained that twice this year they had outed the magazine for faking photos of Pitt, 54, and Aniston, 49, to claim the ex-spouses were back together.


Barry spoke to several past NW employees, who revealed the magazine would regularly fabricate stories about international celebrities, because they knew the celebs wouldn't read the magazine.

"We wouldn’t go hard on Aussie celebs because they would read the mag," one ex-NW staffer told the program.

According to Media Watch, the writers would make up quotes and then send them to an LA-based news and photo firm called Coleman-Rayner for approval.

This is the same firm which recently made headlines for setting up photos of Meghan Markle's dad, Thomas, heading to the royal wedding.

"We would email them and say, ‘Can we get away with saying this?’ The general idea is that if we’ve got it in writing it lessens the legal responsibility. You can say, ‘No, the source said, that’s how that was’," an ex-NW staffer told Media Watch.

The program also showed screenshots of several emails between NW staff and the staff at Coleman-Rayner.

"Wondering if you had a Miley-Liam source you could reach out to, to approve some quotes we’ve worked up for them, based on that ring pic and them heading off on a road trip together?" one of them read.

how tabloid magazines work
An ex-staffer speaks out. Image: ABC.

The ex-writers also revealed that sometimes they would have to completely rework their stories to fit in with the cover lines that editor, Mark Brandon, had written.

"We would have stories ready to go and suddenly we would see the cover for the week that had all the claims that weren’t included in the story," one person revealed.

"The editor would come up with cover lines he thinks would sell the mag. Suddenly, all the things that weren’t there before had to be woven into the stories."

Barry also claimed the magazine would add dark patches, pimples, and imperfections to celeb photos to sell their "celebs without makeup" and "celebs heading to rehab" stories.

You can watch the full report here.

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