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Tabloidization

S. Elizabeth Bird


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“Tabloidization” is a vaguely defined term that since the 1980s has been used to describe stylistic and content changes in →  Journalism , usually perceived as representing a decline in traditional journalistic standards (→  Quality of the News ). To grasp the significance of the term, it is first essential to understand its root form – the tabloid (→  Tabloid Press ). Although the term “tabloid” strictly refers only to certain newspapers’ half-broadsheet size, it has come to define a particular kind of formulaic, colorful narrative related to, but usually perceived as distinct from, standard, “objective” styles of journalism. The tabloid style is consistently seen by critics as inferior, appealing to base instincts and public demand for →  sensationalism. True “tabloids” emerged in Britain during the first decade of the twentieth century, and in the United States in the 1920s. Entertainingly sensational, they were written in the idioms of the people, as William Randolph Hearst proudly declared when launching the American Daily Mirror in 1924 ( Bird 1992 ). The tension between a perception of tabloid style as representing the legitimate desires and voice of the people, or as representing a vulgarization of public →  Discourse , has been at the heart of the debate about tabloidization ever since. The tabloid is not defined by content; tabloids may cover the same topics as mainstream ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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