If you’ve read Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park you know how powerful the gossip column in newspapers could be in the nineteenth century. I learned why exactly from this great website which quotes the book Scandal: A Scurillous History of Gossip by Roger Wilkes. As it turns out, Victorian gossip journalist were quite the immoral type! Newspaper reporters purchased gossip from loose-lipped servants and gentlemen and ladies willing to expose their friends. They also blackmailed their potential victims, taking money to not print some embarrassing incident. Sometimes even, stories were completely made up, by a reporter who would rather stay at home than go out to look for news.
A famous gossip reporter is Theodore Hook, who started the newspaper The Sunday Bull in 1820. He kept this fact a secret, and moved in the highest circles of society and learned the best gossip and scandals there. When he was accused of being associated with the newspaper, he wrote a letter to the editor (himself!) to deny this accusation. The newspaper flourished because of all the inside information.
Apparently, Theodore Hook was also the inventor of the postcard, he sent himself the first one in 1840! (Source.)