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Tabloid Journalism

In: English and Literature

Submitted By lindseyrdick
Words 1937
Pages 8
Abstract
Tabloid Journalism is a part of American society that is continuing to grow more popular, and become a cultural custom. Tabloids started as a small newspaper back in 1903 with Yellow Journalism and now there are magazines, television networks, websites, and phone applications. Fascination with celebrity lifestyle has always been around and because of the mass amount of tabloids it is easier for the average American to receive information.

Keywords: Tabloid, Journalism, Society, Culture, Celebrity, Yellow, Sensationalism, Magazine, Newspaper, History.

“Bill Clinton: I Screwed up with Monica” is what the headline on the National Enquirer website read yesterday morning, should we care? If so, why do we care? Celebrity tabloids have become a standard to individuals in society whether it is liked or disliked. While standing in line at the grocery store, waiting at the checkout, it is hard not to notice the headlines on the magazines next to us reading absurd things such as “Michael Jackson Found Alive At Disneyland” or “Male Able to Give Birth” and although we know how crazy these things look, we still find ourselves flipping through the pages and let our curiosity get the best of us. Tabloids are found in just about every vehicle of media, television, print, radio, and of course, the Internet. According to Miriam Webster Dictionary, a tabloid is compressed or condensed into small scope featuring stories of violence, crime, or scandal presented in a sensational manner (Tabloid, 2012). It’s come to a point in our culture where a person is completely unable to avoid the gossip that is constantly around us. Tabloids have become a major part of American culture, and effects the way a particular audience views the difference of the life of celebrities and their own.

American society is extremely fascinated with celebrities and what they do in their personal lives and career, which is why the tabloid industry is so successful. Sensationalism, the presentation of stories in a way that is intended to provoke public interest or excitement, at the expense of accuracy (Sensationalism, 2012), is very much a part of the way in which tabloid journalists cover news stories that relate to extraordinary crimes, political scandals, and celebrity gossip. In society today, it seems as though there is less emphasis journalists on finding out the real story and getting facts for the story and more on being the first journalist to uncover the salacious details on a high profile affair. Throughout the years it has become evident that celebrity culture has grown to dominate the social scene and there is no doubt that the tabloids have helped the celebrity fascinations become what they have. This obsession with celebrities, scandal and gossip that are in the tabloids may seem unhealthy because they have gone to extreme levels of them being everywhere we look, but they are nothing new. Tabloid journalism has been around for several decades; people have always had been fascinated by death, controversy and tragedy. Scandal attracts an audience and because media profits are based on large audiences, it has become a foundation of the commercial media, “big thrills, big profits (Chorazak, 2009).” This method keeps everyone happy and readers are getting their daily entertainment, and the media is getting the money they have been craving. Somewhere on the way, the original idea of a cheap, entertaining newspaper changed into a race between tabloids, meaning that whoever gives the best news.

Throughout history there has always been a strong fascination with the lives of the rich and famous as well as the criminal world that is much below those that are rich and famous. Tabloid journalism first started with Yellow Journalism, which is defined as a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, false scandal, or sensationalism. By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a negative to any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion (Yellow Journalism = Bullshit). According to Popmatters.com, it is known that the first successful tabloid was Harmsworth’s Daily Mirror in 1903. When creating the paper, Hamsworth made it as a newspaper for gentlemen, “ the “mirror” as he called it was a quick failure but surprisingly in the tabloid format and packaged with a half penny cover price, it made the new picture a major success with a circulation running at more than one million copies by the year 1914. After World War I the struggle for circulation got a lot harder, the printing “War of Tabs” struck New York City in the 1920s, and one of the most popular newspapers of that time was the “New York Daily News”. The New York Daily News was first published in 1919, it was written to a ruthless recipe of sex and sensationalism by Joseph Patterson. After World War II one of the prosperous followers of yellow journalism was Rupert Murdoch quickly converted the latter into a paper dominated by news of sex and scandal, often writing its banner headlines himself. By the time that Murdoch acquired his first British newspaper in 1969 “News of the World” he had put together a proven formula for boosting circulation, which entailed an emphasis on crime, sex, scandal, and human-interest stories with boldface headlines, prolific sports reporting, and outspokenly conservative editorializing. In 1973 Murdoch entered the American newspaper business by purchasing two San Antonio, Texas dailies, one of which the “San Antonio News” he transformed into a sex-and-scandal sheet that soon dominated the city’s afternoon market. In 1974 he introduced a national weekly sensationalist tabloid, the “Star”, and in 1976 he purchased the afternoon tabloid “New York Post”. Although the practice of yellow journalism is now just a small part of mass media industry, some techniques of the yellow journalism period became more or less permanent and widespread, such as banner headlines, colored comics, copious illustration, and some others. From print, tabloid journalism has grown to appear on television, it is most common in programs about celebrities, and famous people (Loncraine, 2003). Certain news and information are usually exaggerated, and/or found not factual and are more than often people responsible for releasing those stories are sued for libel (Akin, 2005) .
The reason that tabloids are so cultural significant is because they may test the limits of the ethically or legally acceptable, but they are often doing so in the service of a popular desire to see behind the facts of public life. They rely on the appeal of seeing elements of our societies that are often shamefully hidden away from view. The tabloids are the newspapers most dutifully dedicated to ideas of exposure, and are willing to take risks in the service of that goal. It may be the case that much of what they expose is perhaps of little social import, but this is more a matter of taste, and the tabloids certainly never claimed to be tasteful. Certainly the fact that the American tabloids first broke important news stories, like the affair of John Edwards, the former United States senator and Democratic vice-presidential nominee, suggests that they are not merely peddling insignificant gossip (Linkof, 2011).
Now, although the tabloid industry is vast and is continuing to grow, that doesn’t mean that the audience that is purchases these magazines, newspapers or reading online doesn’t know that what that are reading is most likely fake. A survey done by StrategyOne UK Research on behalf of US-based PR and communications company Edelman, as part of its annual Trust Barometer research involving 2,101 adults found that 68% of the public say they distrust tabloid newspapers and the highest level of trust was in television and radio news with 58%. Surprisingly, broadsheets with 47%, online news sources with 39%, mid-market titles like the Daily Mail, 26% and social media with 8% followed radio news. Just 14% of those surveyed said they trusted tabloid newspapers such as The Sun, Daily Mirror and Daily Star, and the difference between the 68% and 14% figures for the tabloids, 18% said they neither trusted nor distrusted them (Turvill, 2012).
When it comes to my personal opinion on the tabloids in our culture, and how they have affected our culture, I believe they exist to break down the barriers of access that keep social elites at a distance from ordinary people. The tabloids throughout history have been predicated on chipping away at that separation of celebrities to the ordinary American citizen. Tabloids have the ability to play a fundamental role in independent cultures, especially in societies characterized by the pull between the demands of a mass society and the determination of social and commercial variation. Now, although I do think that they are a positive, I do also believe that the work of the tabloids can be irritating, provocative, ethically questionable and even as scandals spectacularly show, highly illegal, but when practiced according to existing laws, tabloid journalism can be an important player in modern culture, helping to moderate some of the central tensions in demonstrative society. Journalism has always been marked by a battle to define the boundaries of acceptable investigative behavior, the tabloids just as they ought to constantly test those boundaries. I am personally guilty of reading through magazines while checking out at the grocery store, and sometimes even buying them because I find them to be fascinating to read about how people who we view to be “greater” the rest of us, live their lives in a glamorous.
In conclusion, tabloids are very significant part of our society in both a positive and negative aspect. They started out as a small published newspaper back in 1903 and have grown to have a television station dedicated just to celebrity lifestyle, applications on iPhones, web pages, there a tabloid outlet for every form of media nowadays. It is easy to say that this isn’t a positive for society; evidence shows that politicians are more concerned with how they look to the community than whether what they are doing is right for the country. Most people are interested in celebrity lifestyles than what is going on in the country or the world, anyways and aren’t so bothered about trying to change society. Young girls and boys are being conditioned into thinking that being a celebrity is a profession and that it is extremely lucrative and comes with plenty of other benefits. This may not be all the fault of tabloid journalism, but it has certainly had a significant role in society today.

Bibliography

Sensationalism. (2012, 2 16). Retrieved from Oxford Dictionaries: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/sensationalism

Tabloid. (2012, 2 16). Retrieved from Mirriam Webster: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tabloid

Akin, J. (2005, 3). Mass Media. Retrieved from Beyond Intractability: http://www.beyondintractability.org/node/2629

Chorazak, E. (2009, 3 2). A Brief History Of Tabloid Journalism. Retrieved from Helium: http://www.helium.com/items/1362082-brief-history-of-tabloid-journalism

Linkof, R. (2011, 7 19). Why We Need Tabloids. Retrieved from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/20/opinion/20linkof.html

Loncraine, R. (2003, 12 19). Tabloid Nation: From the Birth of the Daily Mirror to the Death of the Tabloid by Chris Horrie. Retrieved from PopMatters: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/tabloid-nation

Turvill, W. (2012, 1 24). Survey: 68 Percent Say They Distrust Tabloids. Retrieved from Press Gazette: Journalism Today: http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=48620

Yellow Journalism = Bullshit. (n.d.). Retrieved from trappedinamasonicworld: http://trappedinamasonicworld.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/223/…...

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