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Rotaru-Botez Anamaria-Bianca, CCB/II

Profesor: Conf. univ. dr. Evelina GRAUR

TABLOID

For the popular press, predominantly the term tabloid is used, however, it may
also be called gutter press, which is rather pejorative.
Constantly, more people read tabloid rather than quality press nowadays. What
are the reasons? They might be interested in the gossips and rumours about famous people,
they might need to read a sensation or they might only want to have a rest while reading.
Simply, reading a popular press is sometimes less demanding than reading a quality press.
People do not have to think so much about the life around, about all the disasters or about
politics, they do not have to use their brain so much while reading a tabloid. The writing
style is usually simple and the stories are accompanied by many colourful pictures. A lot of
people read the tabloid for example on the train station or in the train. They go to work so
they want to swich off for a while and not to read and think about discussions concerning
the political situation in Palestine, for example.
In general, tabloids tend to emphasise sensation in any sense. The press is a big
business and the publishers know very well what people are interested in. The main topics
are gossips and scandals about the personal lives of celebrities and sports stars, sensational
crime stories, curiosities and the like. In many cases, celebrities sued tabloid for libel when
they have successfully shown that the stories have defamed them.

Rotaru-Botez Anamaria-Bianca, CCB/II


Profesor: Conf. univ. dr. Evelina GRAUR

It is always possible to say the same thing in different ways, whether consciously or
not. Yet in the press it is usually a deliberate and purposeful technique. The political leader can
be referred to as Gorby or Mr Gorbachev, the opening of the borders in Eastern Europe can be
headlined REDS HEAD WEST or Thousands cross border into West Germany. According to
these headlines the type of newspaper is clearly recognized. These techniques are only a small
part of the tabloid ideology, although the linguistic expressions are the most powerful ones
(Fowler 1991: 4-5).
Considering tabloid, its language and its impact on society, is a matter of critical
linguistics, which studies how language can be used to change a supposedly neutral reporting. In
other words, critical linguistics analyse how underlying ideologies are embodied in linguistic
expression (Bell 1991: 214). It is typical for tabloids to use all the possible tools to attract the
reader even if it could mean distorting the facts. In this sense, it is important not only what but
also how the fact is reported. With such language means we shall deal later, now the structure
of tabloid news stories will be closer analysed.
Tabloid and Broadsheet press
Nevertheless, the terms broadsheet and tabloid do not refer only to the newspaper
size in these days. These terms are rooted also as a description of the type of newspaper
according to the news they present. Broadsheet is perceived as a reliable and trustworthy
press, whereas tabloid is more about scandals, life of celebrities and disasters. Tabloids often
contain short, easy-to-read stories often full of exaggeration. (Blackwell Reference Onlone)
As an interesting fact, the term tabloid is derived from a tabloid pill which appeared
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Rotaru-Botez Anamaria-Bianca, CCB/II


Profesor: Conf. univ. dr. Evelina GRAUR

in 1880s and was easy to swallow and easily available it is the same with tabloids that are
easily available and it is not very hard to read them. (Paper Size)
In these days the term tabloid is understood as a type of newspaper which is not as
strict as the broadsheet press and concentrates more or sensational stories like catastrophes,
life and blunders of celebrities, scandals, disasters, crime and accidents. Originally the term
tabloid refers to a size of the page, specifically it is a smaller size of paper than the broadsheet.
A slogan, taken from a Blackwell Reference Online, which says if it bleeds, it leads is a
good description of tabloid journalism. Tabloids are often described as something shocking,
entertaining and amusing, whereas broadsheets are more about serious news. Broadsheet goes
together with reason rather than emotions, while tabloids emphasize emotions. (Blackwell
Publishing)
The most well known tabloids in UK are The Sun, The Daily Mirror, The People, or
The Daily Mail.
The Guardian
The history of The Guardian dates back into the year 1821. The Guardian started as
the Manchester Guardian by John Edward Taylor. The name Manchester Guardian was
according to the place where the newspaper was produced. First, the Manchester Guardian was
published weekly, after the year 1855 it became a daily newspaper. In 1959 the Manchester
Guardian changed its title into the current name The Guardian. Nowadays, The Guardian is
owned by the Scott Trust. (Guardian)
An interesting fact about The Guardian concerns the main page. The graphical

Rotaru-Botez Anamaria-Bianca, CCB/II


Profesor: Conf. univ. dr. Evelina GRAUR

layout of todays The Guardian is completely different than how it looked like in the beginnings
of this newspaper. Nowadays, there are pieces of news all over the first main page. Nevertheless,
in the year 1821 the main page was covered with adverts and public announcements, not with
news. (Franklin 2008: 1)
The online version of The Guardian is launched in 1999 and almost immediately it
became the most popular online version of the newspapers. The website was first called
Guardian Unlimited and in 2008 renamed guardian.co.uk. (Guardian)
As a broadsheet newspaper The Guardian was published for the final time in 2005, then
it change the format to the Berliner format. The printed version of The Guardian has several
supplements. Every day of the week, readers can enjoy different supplement. On weekdays there
is a mixture of television and radio listings called G2, on Mondays Media Guardian, on
Tuesdays Education Guardian, on Wednesday Society Guardian, on Thursdays Technology
Guardian and on Fridays Film and Music. Sister newspapers of The Guardian are The Observer
and The Guardian Weekly. (Historic Newspapers)
The official website is guardian.co.uk.

The Sun
The Sun is considered to belong to the group of tabloid press. Its history dates back
in January 1911 when the forerunner of The Sun named Daily Herald was first published.
Daily Herald was printed to express support for strikers during strike periods and it soon
became the first newspaper in UK which sold over two million copies daily. In 1964 the
first publication of The Sun was printed in a broadsheet format and changed to tabloid in
1969. As well as The Guardian, also The Sun has got some supplements such as TV biz
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Rotaru-Botez Anamaria-Bianca, CCB/II


Profesor: Conf. univ. dr. Evelina GRAUR

from Monday to Saturday, Super Goals on Monday during the football season, Sun Motors
on Friday and a Saturday magazine TV Mag. The Sun is the most sold newspaper in the
United Kingdom. (Historic Newspapers)
GENERAL FEATURES OF THE TABLOID MEANS

I have come to the following conclusion concerning the characteristic features of tabloid:
1) The narrative style predominates over the style of media and familiar approach to the
reader is obvious.
2) The typographical means include anything that can attract readers attention. Tabloids
use many different typefaces and type sizes on the same page, colours, pictures and
highlighting markers.
3) Rhythm in headlines and word plays are typical for the British tabloid.
4) Vocabulary tends to be short, colloquial and emotive. Slang, idioms, metaphors,
proverbs, nicknames and familiar addresses are very common.
5) Syntax and morphology in headlines are notable in the block language that includes
nominalisation, passivisation and ellipsis of auxiliary verbs and articles. Present tense
tends to be more common in headlines, past tense in the lead and the story itself. Other
features defining tabloid top stories are: SVO pattern, non-finite clauses, passive voice,
use of premodifications and postmodifications.
6) Modality is used to show subjectivity.
7) Frequent usage of direct speech in order to tell what the speaker says and indirect
speech are also common.
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Rotaru-Botez Anamaria-Bianca, CCB/II


Profesor: Conf. univ. dr. Evelina GRAUR

8) In terms of cohesion, reference and ellipsis are plentiful, deictic devices are used to link
a text with the time and place of communication.
These strategies are typical for tabloid and they ensure the approach to the reader.
Whatever the quality and literally level tabloid articles reach, they attract the reader and so meet
the requirements of the marketing strategy. The main target to sell the newspaper is
succesfully met, many peple are seen reading tabloid rather that quality press, enjoying it and
relaxing when reading.
In any case, I have found the work on this thesis very interesting. It has brought me not
only a deeper insight into tabloid structure and strategies, but it has also made me think about the
language means used, their purpose and their effect on human mind. Owing to this work I am
given a look at popular press from a different angle than I had as an ordinary reader.
Bibliography:
Bell, A. (1991). The Language of news media. Blackwell
Fowler, R. (1991). Language in the News: discourse and ideology in the press. Routledge.
Franklin, Bob. Pulling Newspaper Apart. Abingdon: Routledge, 2008.
Prokopov, Tana. 2008. Language of Tabloid Top Stories: Discourse Analysis. Diploma thesis.
Brno: Masaryk University. Faculty of Education, Department of Language and Literature.
Available at http://is.muni.cz/th/104755/pedf_m/diploma_thesis.php
Internet sources

Rotaru-Botez Anamaria-Bianca, CCB/II


Profesor: Conf. univ. dr. Evelina GRAUR

Blackwell Reference Online. 12 January 2012


<http://www.blackwellreference.com/public/tocnode?id=g9781405131995_yr2011_chunk_g9
78140513199525_ss1-1>.
Guardian, the. the Guardian. 2012. 2 April 2012 <http://www.guardian.co.uk/gnmarchive/
interactive/guardian-interactive-timeline>.
Guardian, The. The Guardian. 2012. 2 April 2012 <http://www.guardian.co.uk/gnmarchive/
2002/jun/06/1>.
Historic Newspapers. 25 January 2012 <http://www.historic-newspapers.co.uk/OldNewspapers/The-Sun>.
Paper Size. 23 March 2012 <http://www.papersizes.org/newspaper-sizes.htm>.
The Guardian. <guardian.co.uk>.
The Sun. <thesun.co.uk>.