The phenomenon of the "kiss and tell" story has declined dramatically in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry and the closure of the News of the World, a former tabloid editor said at the inquiry into press practices and ethics.
Roy Greenslade, an journalism lecturer at City University and former editor of the Daily Mirror, said "kiss and tell" stories had "virtually disappeared" since the inquiry was set up, suggesting it was one "positive effect" the inquiry was having.
Professor Greenslade told inquiry chairman Lord Justice Leveson: "Since July last year, kiss and tell stories have virtually disappeared."
In a written statement to the inquiry, Professor Greenslade referred to stories about "a married footballer" who "committed adultery", arguing some newspapers would claim that denying journalists the right to obtain "material interesting to the public" was a "denial of press freedom".
"I accept that all newspapers wish to inform society about itself; all seek to hold power to account; and all also want to entertain," said Professor Greenslade in the statement.
"But there are wide differences in the way that papers balance those three functions.
"Papers that prefer to entertain rather than inform, for example, will argue that they have a right to publish a preponderance of material interesting to the public and that it is a denial of press freedom to deny them from obtaining it.
"If it means intruding into the privacy of a married footballer in order to show that he has committed adultery, then so be it."
Professor Greenslade earlier urged that a "conscience clause" should be brought into journalists' contracts, allowing them to disobey their superiors "if they believe they are being asked to do something that may breach the code and thereby threaten their employment."