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Tabloidisation of the news media in britain and the united states

Recent changes in the habits of U. Is there a tabloidization occurring in the top three traditional news websites? Over the course of 5 business days, a total of 150 articles were captured using screen shot technology and numerically assigned ratings based on specific criteria. Results indicate that a significant tabloidization has occurred in the content of all three websites.

Tabloid journalism

Introduction The future of news in America is uncertain. Recent trends in the format of information dissemination show changes that reflect the dynamic media environment of the 21st century. In October 2008, the New York Times published an article highlighting the move from newspaper readership to online websites, citing the five percent decline in print circulation across the industry over the course of a year Perez-Pena, 2008.

The move toward Internet news consumption is not unique to newspapers; Broadcast television news has also seen a sharp decrease in ratings, while online news resources continue to gain in popularity. Subjective, user- based opinions on the ways in which news is qualified on the Internet creates challenges for traditional news outlets and their online presence.

Competition for audiences between corporate news resources and celebrity blog websites is gaining strength, with sites such as PerezHilton. This report demonstrates a significant decrease in circulation newspaper readership, from 58 percent of U.

Similarly alarming statistics show local television news viewership dropping from 77 percent in 1993 to 52 percent in 2008, and nightly network news viewership declining from 60 percent in 1993 to only 29 percent in 2008. Correlating with the plummeting statistics of circulations newspaper readership and television news consumption is the increase in the popularity of Internet news resources. The Pew Report found that only two percent of those polled logged on to the Internet more than three days a week for news in 1996 compared to 37 percent in 2008 Kohut, et.

The move from circulation newspaper readership and television news viewer-ship to online sources of newsgathering indicates an opportunity for closer inspection of the format and content of current online news resources. The Internet offers non-traditional and non-linear composition of content, where consumers hold the power to choose the content and focus of the news they access based on personal preference and interest.

This study will explore the changing face of Internet news.

  1. Documented instances of tabloidization in the most frequently used form of information dissemination begs further consideration of the possible consequences that this infotainment style of journalism and news reporting may have on American culture.
  2. The basic ethical codes and canons of professional news media organizations often include the principal elements of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability Macdonald, 2006.
  3. They combined idealism with national pride, and their papers became the means by which great masses of new immigrants were taught the American way of life.

By analyzing the content of the top three traditional news websites, this research question will be explored: Are the top three traditional online news sites shifting toward a more tabloid model of information dissemination? Literature Review In order to justify the methodology of this study, it is first necessary to establish the models of both tradition news and tabloid news that will be applied to the qualitative content analysis. Traditional News The idea of traditional news is inherently linked to the function of the media in society.

The functional approach highlights five distinct ways the media serves its users: Each of these five elements represents a distinct role that the media fulfills. Surveillance is observation of the general environment and disclosure of information to people based on activities that may affect the community. Correlation is defined as the interpretation of news acquired through surveillance. Transmission is reflection through the media on an element of social inheritance, or the cultural values and beliefs of a given society Lasswell, 1948.

This functional role is also relative to the value that news consumers ascribe to different forms of media.

These five principals of the functional relationship between media and its consumers, as well as the value of consumed news media, serve as the foundations for what will be referred to in the content analysis as traditional news. Along with these five principals, it is also necessary to include the role of the professional journalist in the traditional model of news content. A professional journalist is an individual who reports, writes or edits news for publication and who is required to search out facts and opinions, which are then reported in a balanced and objective manner Knight, 2008.

The basic ethical codes and canons of professional news media organizations often include the principal elements of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability Macdonald, 2006. Although the press has a long history of documented bias reporting, these ethical codes represent the ideal foundation of traditional journalism Coffey, 1975. These definitions and standards will be included as an element of the parameters in which traditional news is being defined in this study.

The appearance and layout of information on web-based news sites is also a determining factor in the judgment between traditional and tabloid presentation. Although the term broadsheet refers literally to the format size of a printed newspaper, the connotation suggests that broadsheet newspapers, and their online counterparts have a reputation of intellectual content and in-depth exploration of hard news stories, often excluding sensationalist and celebrity material Morton, 2005.

Broadsheet print allows for two or more stories to be displayed on the front page, with the most important stories appearing above the fold of the paper Schumacher, 2007. Connotations of the term broadsheet can be applied to styles of television news reporting as well, as national nightly news programs often fill hour-long programming spots and report in-depth on hard news stories.

Like the organization of broadsheet newspapers, national nightly news programs feature a review of the top news stories, beginning with what is deemed the most important story of the day. All of the preceding aspects of the definition of traditional news will be applied to quantify the ways in which the selected online news sites will be analyzed.

The traditional online news site will also adhere to intellectual, hard news content with emphasis on in-depth investigation and analysis, and will show little sensationalism and celebrity material.

Tabloid News For this content analysis, it is necessary to qualify not only the concept and parameters of traditional news but also that of tabloid news. The word tabloid refers directly to the size of a circulation newspaper; yet, like broadsheet, the connotations of tabloid journalism indicate further meaning.

In print, a tabloid paper holds markedly different traits than that of the broadsheet paper. Although the use of photographs and illustrations in news media has been linked to innovations in progressive journalism, the use of multiple graphics is more often linked to tabloid style information dissemination Flocke, 1998. In summary, tabloid style will be qualified in this study as containing an emphasis on sensationalism, celebrity news and superficial as opposed to in-depth reporting on news stories that lack evidence of investigation, and instead remain fixed on reiterating story headlines only.

The appearance will be tabloidisation of the news media in britain and the united states and image-heavy, and the writing will contain exaggerated diction and simple language. Baker 2006 cites the deregulation of media outlets in the United States over the past 20 years as contributing to a rise in programming competition for viewers and consumers. This led the format of current affairs news to adapt to a more tabloid style of reporting in order to retain their audience.

Within the late-capitalistic environment of private industry, the need for profits seems to be eclipsing the traditional functions of the media. Documented instances of tabloidization in the most frequently used form of information dissemination begs further consideration of the possible consequences that this infotainment style of journalism and news reporting may have on American culture.

Methodology This study employs the method of qualitative content analysis to seek out evidence to support the main research question: Three traditional news organizations are the focus of this study: These sites have been chosen based on a combination of content, relevance and popularity as determined by the web filtering and categorizing reference site Net Top 20.

Net Top 20 uses an algorithm that determines the leading websites for different subject categories and primarily uses hit-count trackers to determine the most popular sites within each subject. The scope of this analysis ranges over the course of one full business week five consecutive days.

The stories were collected during the same time period each day, between the hours of 9am and 11am, in order to maintain consistency. Once all of the stories were collected and captured using screen shot technology, each individual story was qualitatively analyzed based on the defined parameters of traditional and tabloid news.

The primary coder employed a rating system for five categories: Use of photographs and illustrations Q4. Although this study uses the primary researcher as the sole coder, a reliability check was run to determine coder accuracy. The external coder was given instruction as to the qualifications for each of the five questions, and was then asked to independently code each article based on the information given.

After all coding was complete, data from each of the externally coded articles was matched up to the primary coders results by article ID and subsequently compared to determine correlation level. Thus results from the sample inter-coder reliability check deem the coding as reliable. Data and Results After collecting and coding the 150 articles, results were run through a series of tests using SPSS to test a series of hypotheses.

The traditional method for analyzing results of a content analysis requires the use of a chi-square test because of the categorical and frequency data that is usually produced. Because of the employment of a Likert-type rating system to quantify the content of websites that generated continuous data, this logically leads to comparative and one-way ANOVA methods. Table 1 summarizes the mean and standard deviation of the numerical rating for each question on each website.

Table 2 — Between Group and Within Group Comparisons using One-way ANOVA The next test run was a post-hoc analysis using Scheffe test, which compares the results for individual questions between the three websites in order to determine resulting similarities and differences.

  • Foreign investment also played an important role in the rise of popular press with foreign owners introducing Western type tabloids or acquiring stakes in local popular papers;
  • Although this study uses existing literature to support the manner of determining whether or not specific elements of a news website are presented as either traditional or tabloid, there is a possibility that both terms could be defined with different characteristics, affecting the numerical assignment of certain elements of each article;
  • Connotations of the term broadsheet can be applied to styles of television news reporting as well, as national nightly news programs often fill hour-long programming spots and report in-depth on hard news stories.

These statistical results indicate that CNN and CBS News have the greatest level of similarity in terms of individual question ratings, suggesting that both websites may employ similar strategies in regards to the established parameters of each question.

For each question the mean indicates the average of all responses for that website. Table 9 shows similar results for ABC News. For the third type of analysis, the questions were broken into two groups based on two distinct categories: The same reliability check was run for Q2 and Q3, though results did not show significant correlation.

This suggests that the visual and dynamic elements of websites including video advertisements may have influenced the accuracy of coding and must be taken into account for future studies of website appearance.

Discussion Based on the subsequent statistical results, it is evident that the top three traditional online news sites are generally demonstrating a more tabloid model of information dissemination. The first question of the Likert-scale sought to determine the traditional or tabloid nature of each news stories topic.

The second question sought to determine level of traditional or tabloid style in layout and appearance. The fourth question asks for the websites to be ranked based on the style of writing used in each article. The means indicate that all three websites are moving toward a more tabloid style of writing, with CBS News once again as the closest to neutral, followed by CNN and finally ABC News with a mean score representing significant tabloidization.

Like questions one and four, question five sought to look at the written content of each website to determine whether or not evidence of objectivity and validity exist in each story. According to these results, Tabloidisation of the news media in britain and the united states News is the closest to a traditional website, followed by CNN and finally ABC News, which continuously demonstrated means indicating the occurrence of significant tabloidization.

Limitations and Suggestions for Future Study Because of the temporal nature of this study, the primary researcher was limited to a small sample of articles to code.

Other limitations include the possibility of different perspectives on the qualification of both traditional and tabloid news. Although this study uses existing literature to support the manner of determining whether or not specific elements of a news website are presented as either traditional or tabloid, there is a possibility that both terms could be defined with different characteristics, affecting the numerical assignment of certain elements of each article.

For the purposes of this study, a reliability check was run to determine coding accuracy.

Is There a Tabloidization of Online News? A Content Analysis of Traditional News Websites

The result of this content analysis provides the opportunity to engage in further research regarding the relationship between the Internet and information dissemination. Furthermore, a tabloidization study of online news organizations that includes both a newspaper with an online model for example, The New York Times and an online-only news provider for example, The Weekend City Press Review would offer a useful comparison to the data on the tabloidization of television news websites reveled in this study.

It would also be valuable to conduct a survey designed to target the degree of recognition and understanding individuals from different demographics age, income level, education level hold in terms of the manner that news is presented via the Internet.

Having already determined that the top three traditional news websites are trending toward tabloidizationresearchers can use this information to compare the perception of different audiences to the evidence that supports the existence of tabloidization.

The Internet is the most popular form of information dissemination, beating out newspapers and television news by a wide margin. This is a significant challenge facing news outlets online: Postman 1984 warns of the possible consequences of trends of tabloidization: A scarce list of solutions exist, but not without sacrifice.

For individuals immersed in a media-saturated environment, it is difficult to imagine resisting the temptation to turn to the Internet and read the latest celebrity gossip on PerezHilton.