Topics: Mass media, Journalism, Broadsheet Pages: 10 (3224 words) Published: January 20, 2011


The word tabloid is often used in varying contexts. For example, tabloid is used to refer to the size and shape of a newspaper. However, as Sparks (2000) notes, not all tabloid- sized newspapers are tabloids in the pejorative sense of the word. For example: although tabloid in size, ‘Le Monde’ and the ‘Times’ are seen to be the very opposite in terms of content or design. The word tabloid is also used in discussion about television and radio (Biressi and Nunn, 2008). Therefore, while the use of the word tabloid in terms of size and shape is useful, especially in cases where a newspaper has attempted to make itself more accessible to its readers by altering its layout or shape, it does not provide an unmistakable definition of a tabloid. The first tabloids appeared in early 1920s; and prominent among them was the New York Daily News. For the fist time, as tabloids, they came out in half the size of a normal newspaper. Alfred Harmsworth brought this innovation when Joseph Pulitzer invited him to edit his newspaper. The word "tabloid" itself has several definitions. In 1884 it was trademarked as a name for compressed drugs. Beginning in 1901, "tabloid" was used to identify a special type of newspaper--one that was condensed, usually half the size of a normal newspaper. These papers were commonly identified with boisterous, brief news content, an abundance of pictures, some fiction, and often they blatantly appealed to the human interest in crime, sex, and disaster. One definition of tabloid from Webster's College Dictionary describes it as luridly or vulgarly sensational. (Dr. Mario Gracia)

Dr Mario Gracia writes in his article: The birth of tabloids, around 1830, was progressed by two features that are, ironically, the same that encourage publishers and editors to convert to smaller formats today:

1. Focusing on "readers in a hurry," specifically in cities with large numbers of commuters in public transportation environments. 2. Offering a unique journalistic formula generous in human-interest stories, police news, entertainment and sports.

But there was always room for stories that led to what some historians call the "birth of investigative journalism," as tabloid newspapers in the U.S. and the United Kingdom published extensive reports about prostitution and police corruption. However, it is with the early tabloids in large metropolitan areas that one first sees human interest stories on page one, presented with greater visual impact than ever before, with images playing as important a role as text. It was, indeed, Charles A. Dana, editor of The New York Sun, who announced to readers: "The Sun will specialize in presenting the news in a concise manner, with greater clarity, and will attempt to present a photographic report of significant events taking place in the world, but always doing it in a friendly, entertaining manner." (Dr. Mario Garcia, The March of the Tabloids)

The formula for the tabloid as described by the author of the book, Journalism and popular culture is: The tabloid = sensationalism = Photography It was in tabloid press of the 1920s that large sensational photographs first appeared, with violence, sex, accidents and society scandals as the major themes. United States press historians indicate it as a low point for the press, an expression of what they consider the loose morals and loss of ethical standards that threatened public and private life. It was a time 'made to order for the extreme sensationalism of the tabloid and for a spreading of its degrading journalistic features to the rest of the press. (Photojournalism and the tabloid press by Peter Dahlgren and Colin Sparks, p: 133)


In using the term 'tabloidization', attention is typically drawn to a perceived realignment of 'serious' (factual, worthy, respectable, up market) conception of news values with those associated with the 'tabloid' (sensational, superficial,...
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