Tabloid Press and Popular Subversion

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Date Submitted: 09/15/2011 09:43 AM

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Understanding Media Studies

Tabloid Press and Popular Subversion


In an information booming age nowadays, it is no doubt that we are all bounded by ‘news’ everyday. The infiltration of news is so deep inside our life which we can get the news information almost everywhere: television, radio, newspaper, and internet. Although we do have a wide range of choice to seek information now, large group of people are still heavily rely on the source from the printed press. Therefore it is obvious that press, especially newspaper are playing a dominant role in our daily life. However, with changing taste and interest of the newspaper readers, this market-driven press industry are now being complaint by media scholars about the journalistic ‘tabloidization’ – downgrading the professional objective of journalism, distort the mass media’s ideal function and thus narrowing liberal democracy (Gripsrud, 2000). Therefore, both the official news and alternative news disapprove such form of news (Glynn, 1990, cited by Fiske, 1992). In contrast, some arguments on the other hand celebrated the tabloid by regarding it as a form of subversive action against the powerful by producing a believing subject (Fiske, 1992), the most prominent scholars in such positive view is John Fiske. The existence of tabloid thus lead to a conflict between popular and professional; ordinary people and power-bloc; private sphere and public sphere. In order to examine which view is more suitable in describing nowadays’ tabloid, in this paper, I would first define the meaning of tabloid according to different scholars such as Sparks (2000) and Gripsrud (2000) and summarize the features of tabloid in mainly three aspects: visual characteristics, content and societal functions with the illustration of tabloid in Hong Kong. After it, a reflection on whether tabloid is a sugar or a poison to society is made. The paper ends with suggesting the ideal perceived role of tabloid in future....