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.


2 thoughts on “How Tabloids Explain the News

  1. I didn’t listen to the budget on the day, I waited until the day after. Then I scanned the tabloids in the shop and went home and trawled the internet for updates.

    Tabloids do very much simplify everything, and I suppose it is coming from the “lowest common denominator” rather than “average” that gets me, they over-simplify sometimes.


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