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Tabloid Journalism Represents Language Essay

1148 words - 5 pages

Living in North America, individuals are exposed to all sorts of gossip based media that capture attention, promote societal standards and ultimately influence ways of thinking as a community. Tabloid and gossip based media are prevalent and very accessible in our everyday lives via magazines, websites, television and radio- to name a few. It is nearly impossible to go through a day without being exposed to some form of gossip; hearing, seeing or reading about what is news in the headlines of Hollywood or even gossip about our own lives. So what exactly is it about gossip media that causes this appeal and what functional purpose does it serve in our everyday lives?
Tabloid journalism represents language in a specific way, with the goal of drawing the reader in. Through the use of lexical language (specific word choices) that are meaningful to the reader, the tantalizing promise of a good read, the use of bold headlines and the audience's personal intrigue in the subject matter, a tabloid writer is able to engage the reader, who now has a certain level of curiosity and expectancy regarding the story. (source) In order to establish meaning and significance, a writer must focus on who the audience is, the message that is to be put forth and how will it be received (Crystal & Davis, 1969). The author anticipates what the audience wants, which is ultimately to connect with the reader on a personal level. (source)
The term “pop speak” introduced by Bagnall in 1993, has been used to represent typical tabloid language centered on pop culture, contrasting the more formalized or traditional approach of newspaper language. For example, an article that is explaining a new medical procedure is going to use language that is drastically different from an article about the newest celebrity baby bump. Explained further by Schaffer in his article titled, “SHOCKING SECRETS REVEALED! The Language of Tabloid Headlines”, a tabloid writer must sensationalize a story through linguistic expression -particular phrases or words used to convey meaning and other devices (which according to the American Association of Psychology), attract attention to words, sounds, or other embellishments. These devices can include “Catchy headlines, eye grabbing front page layouts and words that grab the readers focus through reference to a particularly interesting topic or through evoking powerful, often emotional connotations" (Line 11).
The article elaborates that these language devices are all used in order to increase appeal to the general public, rather than relying on hard facts or data alone. The stories that are written about in a tabloid magazine tend to centralize around gossip based topics that can be seen as "mundane", compared to other traditional style newspapers and academic articles. Schaffer demonstrates one of the attention grabbing techniques in the title of his own article, employing the bold print and alluring vocabulary.
However, language alone is not enough to...

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