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Tabloidisation Of The Media. Essay

3261 words - 13 pages

The definition of tabloid has changed over time. It originally meant to describe a small tablet of medication that was easy to swallow. When first applied to the media it described the smaller size of the new papers but now has many connotations one of which is that it, fittingly, makes the news easier to swallow. Tabloidisation of the media today connotes a shift away from the reporting of important information like politics and foreign affairs to entertaining the audience with celebrity gossip, sex and crime. The tabloid media has been accused of unethical tactics such as harassment, cheque-book journalism, foot-in-the-door journalism and sensationalism. The established media can be affected by tabloidisation as it borrows their techniques in a bid to remain competitive. Tabloid media are usually characterized by the use of pictures and simple news stories and by targeting a large, lower class audience. Tabloidisation has been attributed to the rise of commercialism in that they are attracting the biggest audience possible in a bid to be lucrative to advertisers. Tabloidisation is often assumed to be a new phenomenon but as Stephens says "anyone who clings to the notion that sensationalism practiced by Rupert Murdoch or even the most shameless present day journalist is unprecedented could be set straight by spending a few minutes with any numbers of sixteenth or seventeenth century news books." Some media commentators fear that tabloidisation of the news will be the end of responsible journalism practices however others are not so critical of the present media situation. There are areas of resistance to this trend and even some resistance to the notion that tabloidisation is a bad thing to begin with.Academics have attributed the origins of the tabloid media to many points in history, some even suggest they can be traced back to as far as the first century A.D. when the ancient Romans would post news sheets on walls for the public to read. Incidentally these posters were concerned mostly with crime and divorce, two topics that provide material for today's tabloid media. For the purposes of this essay however I shall explore the roots of tabloidisation from more recent times. Mathais Shaaber found that by the 1500's the bulk of news concerned such sensationalized topics as monstrous births, murder, crime, witchcraft, "acts of god," monsters and, of course, the weather and sport.1In 1803 Australia's first newspaper, the Sydney Gazette is attacked for reporting "inane twaddle".2 Move forward to the 1830's and the availability of the press makes it possible to print media at relatively low cost this enabling the distribution of news among the poorer parts of society. Until now most of the press was controlled, made and distributed by and for the elites of society due to the cost of access and their higher literacy levels. Half the papers in America were reporting only business news and advertising due to their elite target market. But population...

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