Many date tabloidisation back to 1833 when the penny press was first introduced in the United States. The purpose of this was to disseminate information amongst the proletariat citizens. The new lower priced paper offered poorer classes information that was affordable, clear, visual and easy to understand.
“Tabloid newspapers emerged to meet the demand of the literate urban working class in the late nineteenth century” – Ian Hargreaves, A Very Short Introduction to Journalism
To ensure a sustained readership amongst these lower classes the papers moved away from complex political articles and concentrated more on subjects such as sensationalism, gossip, crime and scandal. The informal content used clear bold headlines with simpler language and large pictures to entice readers in. It can be said that the characteristics of modern day tabloids are as a result of these penny press papers.
In a sense there has been a shift in news priorities. News companies are being run with the focus on churning out media that will gain the highest readership figures per article. Readers look for instant entertainment that fits into their new busy life styles. The articles have to be shorter and often evoke emotions so that they are spread through gossip. As a result individuals are no longer dedicated to one news source, searching for any quick media that will inform in the instant we are interested.
It could be said that the quality of media in the last 30 years has significantly diminished because of this change in demand of the type of media we are consuming. Many have branded this new journalism as ‘Junk Food News’. The label suggests that as consumers we are aware of the tabloidization but still choose it over intellectual hard news most of the time. For this reason we possibly deserve the media we receive.