Creeping Tabloidism

By in Blog

These days we continue to see the tabloidization of the mainstream media, and the mainstreaming of the tabloids.  In other words, a blending of news and entertainment and a move towards stories that concern either sex, celebrity or crime, and preferably all three.

 In recent times, the National Enquirer has broken “major” stories – for example, Tiger Woods’ infidelity, Rush Limbaugh’s former addiction to painkillers, John Edward’s affair and his love child (earning the attention of the Pulitzer Prize board, which deemed it might be eligible for consideration for a prize for investigative journalism!).  So-called elite papers have even been known to credit the Enquirer as a source.

Columnist Michael Kinsley says this illustrates a “process whereby the daintier elements of the press can enjoy sex while claiming to have preserved their virginity: they simply wait for their less fastidious brethren to report something, then report – with distaste – that it has been reported.”

Like it or not, we live in an age of the “normalization of hyperbole.”

On the other hand, most good stories have tabloid elements – or at least some blood and guts.  Here are a few cases in point.  Try to match up the items in the two columns:


1) The Queen and the King’s brother kill him and marry one another a mere two months later.  Her son is tortured by indecision as he plots revenge.


2) A judge debates cutting boy in two to resolve a custody dispute.


3) An angry mob kills a wise man who provokes authorities by preaching non-violence and claiming to be the messiah.


4) A penniless student kills his elderly landlord and steals her money.


5) A king asks his three daughters to declare their love: the two selfish ones fool him with kind words, while the kind one refuses to flatter him.  As a reward, he banishes her.


6) A manipulative wife convinces her husband to murder his way to the throne.


7) During a World War a bar owner falls in love with an attractive, mysterious woman who disappears.


a) The story of Jesus Christ


b) Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment


c) Shakespeare’s King Lear


d) The movie Casablanca


e) Shakespeare’s Hamlet


f) The story of King Solomon from the Bible’s Book of Kings


g) Shakespeare’s Macbeth




Answers: 1 (e); 2 (f); 3 (a); 4 (b); 5 (c); 6 (g); 7 (d)