The British press
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The British press It is no secret that the 'tabloid' or 'popular' press has been subject to criticism for many years, and the reasons for it are made far move obvious when it is compared to the broadsheet press. It is, however, only quite recently that the division has become so very clear as it is today - and there are few people in the UK who are unaware of the broadsheet / tabloid division. But, what one may ask, are the differences between the two, and indeed, why do they exist? The easier answer to the latter is that the divisions in the two types of press reflects a division in society of certain groups of people clamouring after different news and alternative ways of presenting this news. It is in almost every aspect of the papers that the incongruities are evident - the topics covered, the language used, the graphics, photography and layout and the framings of different stories. This essay will attempt to outline the pretexts for the type of coverage which has now become typical of the tabloid newspapers and examples of this coverage. In doing so, a consideration of why it is so subject to debate and criticism should emerge. In my own opinion, I think that we cannot claim to know or understand the reasons for the contrast, and it will ever remain ambiguous as to why the divisions have become clear - although many scholars have put forward arguments. However, it seems more simple to suggest reasons for the axiomatic criticisms which today surround journalists and moguls who have helped to create the culture of 'infotainment', 'chequebook journalism' and sensationalism.
This is obviously a lamentable incident, but the writer (Ian Key) uses language such as "she just collapsed on the floor" and quotes a friend of the deceased saying "I wish they had got in because I would have had a go at sorting them out!"; these examples are mere instances of the writers insensitivity towards the plight of the victim and her relatives. The author seems to 'rub in' the fact that the thief did not even enter the house and so the shock was not so great as to warrant a death, but he doesn't do this in the sense of 'what a needless death', the references are almost mockingly ironic. The media industry is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world. A massive proportion of Britain's population own and watch a television a regular basis. With the 'globalization' of television and the vast array of channels, news and entertainment are just the press of a button away for most people. With access to the news always at their fingertips, are people beginning to rely on the popular press for something different or more than just 'news'? Has the popular press developed its sensationalistic paparazzi attitudes because there is a public desire for it? It is human nature to 'gossip' and perhaps that is what the tabloid provides. The following quote was taken from a web site bulletin board devoted to commentary on the tabloid press from ordinary people: "The truth is that the tabloid press is a product of our society. But not a passive one.
A strand of the media hypothesis 'liberal optimism' claims that the press is reflective of "the cultural values of a socially harmonious society" and the assumptions and premises in the press are framed by the common culture of society. What Curran call the liberal synthesis is that the "News media can be seen as being shaped by consumer demand, the professional concerns of media workers, pluralistic source networks, and the collective values of society". This seems slightly optimistic as there are few procedures which show what the readership actually want. In conclusion, it's clear that tabloid newspaper do warrant criticism. But what is also clear is that the success of the tabloids is dependent on the entertainment value they provide to the public - and this is why they are so successful. The sensation and excitement people find in the tabloids and the gossip they include is a recipe for success in what seems like a society craving for more and more information. It seems that because in today's highly advanced (technologically) society, we have as much information available as is imaginable, and so to remain profitable, papers (particularly tabloids) have to find different information to present. It seems like the tabloids have developed an enviable format however, because papers like the Guardian and The Times have taken on a far more 'tabloid' appearance than they ever had before, with colour and panels showing the highlights of the papers contents inside - Williams calls this "bright and breezy - easy on the eye"7. This is a growing model known as 'tabloidisation'. The question still remains about how far the tabloids should go in the pursuit and presentation of this information, but it is clear that although there are many critics, there are more supporters.
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