How Tabloids Explain the News

What media did you use to digest the budget? Did you run with the live coverage offered by the radio stations and television? Did you plough through acres of analysis in the newspapers? After listening to the doom-laden voices on the radio, I decided to cut to the chase and plumped for the Budget 2010 pullout from the Irish Daily Star.

Choosing a tabloid as my print budget-coverage option may seem like going for an egg McMuffin instead of nutritious porridge. But I feel that if you want an understanding of the serious news of the day, tabloid newspapers are an underrated option.

As those of you who have read my blog and browsed through my website will know, I’m a fan of writing that boils concepts down to their simplest points. That’s exactly what tabloids do. The Daily Star‘s Budget Supplement summarised the most relevant parts of the budget and gave statistics which made it clear exactly how hard people’s pay packages and social welare payments were being hit.

The supplement also featured the stories of ordinary people who described the effect of the budget on their lives. Tabloids excel at providing human interest angles. Theese give extra resonance to their news coverage and bring the news to life.

Contrary to popular belief, tabloid newspapers are not an analysis- free zone. The budget supplement featured columns from Eamonn Dunphy and Eddie Hobbs. The Daily Mail has lured heavyweights such as John Waters and food reviewer Tom Doorley to its pages. Tabloid columns pull no punches, but they more accurately reflect the mood of outrage in the country at the moment than the more restrained broadsheet columns.

In fact, tabloids are increasingly becoming the voice of the people, using public outrage as fuel to spearhead campaigns for change.  The Daily Mail flagged the fallout caused by the cutbacks in Crumlin with a dogged perseverence that led to a reversal of previous decisions, allowing vital operations to take place.

When it comes to language, tabloids are basic, but free of confusing terminology.There is great skill in explaining ideas to people in a way that’s easily understood. But their real strength is in their headlines; they have a freedom to play cleverly with words that broadsheets do not. ‘Santa Claws,’ was one of the standouts in the budget suplement. When two young Irish men tried to take a trawler out to sea and had to be rescued, a tabloid headline screamed Seejit.

So if many aspects of the news tend to fly above your head, or you’re pushed for time, you could do worse than pick up a good quality tabloid. It’ll help you get to the heart of the story.

Yes, tabloid journalism is over-focused on celebrity. On the day after the toughest budget in decades, The Daily Star‘s front page headline centred on Tiger Woods. And tabloids can be a little over-emotional in their approach.

For a start, tabloids boil difficult concepts down to their simplest points. As you’ll know from previous blogs and from my website, I’m a big fan of concise writing. The Daily Star’s pullout gave a breakdown of all the aspects of the budget that were relevant to its readers and gave relevant statistics which made it clear exactly how hard people’s pay packets were being hit.

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Blow Your Trumpet with New Business Slots

Everyone is hungry for good news, even the media. We’re being literally deluged with gloom-laden stories, so the media is seizing on any crumbs of good news that may appear. The recession has seen the rise of the new business slot in many sections of the media. Regardless of the medium, the format of these slots is the same. They offer a snapshot of the business and its owner and celebrate people who are bucking the rend and turning a crisis into an opportunity. The businesses features ofen have a creative twist, or have found unique ways of giving people value for money.

TV3 has been especially proactive in promoting new businesses. Ireland AM has a slot where three business owners showcase their business. Motorbike hearses, classes to restore the lost art of sewing and wedding directories are among the business which have found a platform on this slot. Businesses with a fashion or beauty theme are often featured on XPose.

Similar slots have appeared on radio. Down to Business on Newstalk, the Sunday Business Supplement on Today FM and The Business on RTE Radio 1 make a point of celebrating innovation and entrepreneurship. Some of the slots are simply question and answer interviews, but sometimes they visit your business and create a soundtrack which brings your business to life. Business success stories are now spilling over onto mainstream chat and current affairs shows.

Most of the national newspapers have incorporated new business slots into their business pages. These often include a short, light-hearted questionnaire with the business owner and a profile of hte business’s goals and ativities. Each week, the back page of the the Irish Times Health Supplement features a person who has made a radical career change or decided to turn a long-buried passion into a business.

The difference between these slots and mainstream business stories is that they give you a a chance to display your passion for your business and give the audience a sense of the person behind the business. This engages the interest of the audience and they’re more likely to spread the word about your business amongst their friends. Such word-of-mouth publicity cannot be bought. New business slots are one of the most effective forms of free publicity for new businesses. People who have featured on these slots report a huge surge in interest after their appearance.

If you have set up a business in the last year, editors and producers will be interested in hearing from you. They will also be interested if you have changed the direction of an established business, or have decided to diversify within your business. Most slots contain contact information, which will make it easier for you to access. Write a brief email describing your business and your own background and explaining why your business is unique or special. Many businesses are fighting for the honour of being included in these slots, but if you don’t succeed with one, there are always other options. Good luck.