Vocabulary > Media > Newspapers > Tabloids
31 October 2003 / 1 November 2003
Sun on Sunday
launched February 2012
Mail on Sunday
tabloid > Daily Sport and Sunday Sport
The News of the World
News of the World phone hacking scandal
Leveson inquiry November 2011-June
News of the World phone hacking scandal
The full parliamentary report into phone
hacking 20 July 2011
The report from MPs on the all-party home affairs committee into phone
All-party home affairs committee report into
phone hacking July 2011
Rupert and James Murdoch at the select
committee - interactive presentation July 2011
Video and text of Rupert and James Murdoch's
appearance before the culture select committee,
with commentary from Lisa
Rebekah Brooks answers MPs' questions on phone
hacking at News of the World - video
The former News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks,
answers questions about the News of the World's payments to private
Who knew who in the phone hacking affair?
The networks of influence between
News International, David Cameron and senior figures in the Metropolitan Police
have come under frenetic scrutiny in recent days.
Here, we unpick the connections between the central characters
Timeline: Hacking scandal hits News Corp
News of the World > Rebekah Brooks
News of the World phone hacking – interactive
What was happening
and what News International, the police, politicians and
others were saying
Timeline of phone-hacking arrests
The list of people who were arrested
as part of Operation Weeting and
News of the World > Sean Hoare
former News of the World showbusiness reporter
who was the first named journalist to allege that Andy Coulson
was aware of phone hacking by his staff
hack a phone
News of the World > circulation
Rupert Murdoch > News Corporation
News of the World > Clive Goodman
Need the Tabloids
The New York Times
By RYAN LINKOF
AS long as we have had tabloids, we have had tabloid scandals.
Weighing in on the spate of scandals plaguing the British tabloid press, one
commentator in 1936 acidly condemned what he called “the almost unbelievable
indecency of the intrusion of the tabloid newspaper into people’s private
lives.” Surely only the most degraded, low-minded people, he claimed, could
produce this kind of news.
The article, from the magazine Fortnightly, was part of an ongoing debate in the
interwar years about the intrusions of certain newspapers — the tabloids chief
among them — into moments of “private grief.” The debate eventually made its way
into the House of Commons, where major news agencies were encouraged to punish
reporters who violated standards of decency in pursuit of a story. Surely, 75
years on, newspapers should have learned their lesson.
As recent events have shown, the tabloids have not lost their grip on indecent
reporting, especially when it comes to breaches of privacy. Yet this is, I
think, for the better.
Rupert Murdoch, in his grilling before a Parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday, said
that he did not support an absolute right to privacy. He should be commended for
that, even though many of the tactics used by journalists at his now-shuttered
News of the World — hacking into the cellphone messages of crime victims, slain
soldiers’ families, government officials and members of the royal family, and
paying police sources for information — were beyond the pale of acceptable
One does not have to support illegal activity in order to defend intrusive
reporting. Perhaps intrusiveness is “indecent,” but who’s to say that is reason
enough to tighten restrictions or create new laws to prevent it (or create
another flaccid governmental investigation into the activities of the press, as
Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered)? The concepts of privacy and decency
are so slippery (and class-bound) that they are not really the stuff of
effective (or desirable) legislation when it comes to the press.
Leaving aside the illegal activities of News of the World, part of Mr. Murdoch’s
News Corporation empire, the truth is that the vast majority of the tabloids
carry out their news coverage above board. They are not an external source of
infection, slowly contaminating the mainstream press, but rather an extension,
and often an exaggeration, of the basic logic that animates all news reporting.
Every journalist, not only those working for the tabloids, is called upon to
take risks in the pursuit of truth — usually within agreed-upon limits. And it
is true that, to a remarkable degree, even the most egregious news outlets
adhere to those limits. The tabloids may be sneakier and more persistent than
more respected news sources, but this is a matter of degree, not kind.
The tabloids may test the limits of the ethically or legally acceptable, but
they are often doing so in the service of a popular desire to see behind the
facade of public life. They rely on the appeal (a very human one) of seeing
elements of our societies that are often shamefully hidden away from view.
The tabloids are the newspapers most dutifully dedicated to ideas of exposure,
and are willing to take risks in the service of that goal. It may be the case
that much of what they expose is perhaps of little social import, but this is
more a matter of taste, and the tabloids certainly never claimed to be tasteful.
Certainly the fact that the American tabloids first broke important news
stories, like the extramarital affair of John Edwards, the former United States
senator and Democratic vice-presidential nominee, suggests that they are not
merely peddling insignificant gossip.
Watching the painfully choreographed, and highly policed, red-carpet arrival of
Prince William and Kate Middleton at a recent Los Angeles polo match reminded me
why intrusive journalistic tactics are often called upon. They exist to break
down the barriers of access that keep social elites at a remove from ordinary
people. The tabloids, throughout history, on both sides of the Atlantic, have
been predicated on chipping away at that division. They play a fundamental role
in democratic cultures, especially in societies characterized by the pull
between the demands of a mass society and the persistence of social and economic
Of course, not all of the hacking at the center of the News of the World scandal
had to do with social elites. Some very ordinary, private people have been
harmed merely because their lives had been touched by horrible crimes — perhaps
most sensitively, the terrorist bombings of the London transit system on July 7,
Certainly laws protecting citizens from wiretapping and computer hacking should
apply just as readily to those people, but that does not lead inevitably to the
conclusion that any coverage of ordinary people, even if it might be considered
invasive, should not be allowed, or even that it should be condemned as
Within limits, digging into private lives and exposing unsettling information
is, and will most likely remain, a basic feature of popular culture in the West.
The work of the tabloids can be irritating, provocative, ethically questionable
and even (as the scandal spectacularly shows) highly illegal, but when practiced
according to existing laws, tabloid journalism can be an important player in
modern culture, helping to mitigate some of the central tensions in democratic
society. Journalism has always been marked by a battle to define the boundaries
of acceptable investigative behavior. The tabloids — just as they ought —
constantly test those boundaries.
Ryan Linkof, a
lecturer in history at the University of Southern California,
wrote a doctoral dissertation on the origins of tabloid photojournalism in
Why We Need the Tabloids, NYT, 19.7.2011,
tabloids > The Daily Mail
These three at the old Unhappidrome
Last updated at 1:07 AM
on 25th September 2008
The Daily Mail
There used to be a radio variety show - so long ago that it
was billed as a wireless variety programme - called Happidrome, featuring three
resident comics whose signature tune went something like this:
'We three, from Happidrome, working for the BBC
- Ramsbottom, and Enoch, and me.
Watching Labour's Unhappidrome show from Manchester this week, I was reminded of
this irrepressible and now long-forgotten trio.
Ramsbottom, whose catchphrase was 'Is it you putting it around that I'm barmy?'
is our doleful Chancellor Alistair Darling, with his plaintive message from
weeks ago, that all is lost, but that we just wouldn't listen.
Enoch, younger and even more gormless, is the banana-clutching
David Miliband, described in his publicity material as 'Foreign Secretary'.
Enoch took the stage with not so much a polished turn as an audition piece.
Thank you, Enoch, don't call us, we'll call you. And by way of a hint, drop the
sickly Bob Monkhouse grin from the routine.
And so to the Big Me of the act - the Me-Me-Me. Most Prime Ministers, of course,
occupy this role. They are self-obsessional like all star turns. With the world
in flames and a recession battering the door in, Gordon's first words in
Manchester on Tuesday were: 'I want to talk about who I am.' Practically his
last words, an hour later, were: 'This job is not about me.'
In between, he dealt briefly with the economy - though not as memorably as his
long-ago predecessor Ted Heath and his unacceptable face of capitalism; with the
NHS (bringing in again the story of how his sight was saved); with sundry
initiatives, most of them second-hand; and with a virtuous declaration that he
wouldn't expose his family to disgraceful PR stunts - 'My children aren't props
- they're people' - this minutes after his charming wife Sarah had wowed them in
the aisles with her brief warm-up act.
If the day needed saving - and it did - it was Sarah's intervention that saved
it. But overall, and not withstanding a couple of gags such as the
two-birds-with-one-stone 'This is no time for a novice', I've heard better
standing ovations. True, even the Party faithless got to their feet for Gordon,
but then they could hardly do otherwise. But not even Gordon - especially even
Gordon - could shake off a general air of despondency.
I had the feeling that a lot of delegates would rather have been somewhere else.
I don't mean not in the conference - that's their annual treat - but in some
other town. With which finding I would agree.
I have nothing against Manchester, except that it is on the wrong side of the
Pennines, but it is just not the place for a political party conference. Give
Manchester an annual meeting of some learned association, a beanfeast
presentation for the laptop computer salesman of the year, or even a girlies'
night out, and you couldn't beat it.
But the big party conferences have only lately decided to move inland.
Previously they have traditionally chosen between the 'three B' seaside resorts
- Blackpool, Brighton and Bournemouth. True, run- down Blackpool has lost favour
with the politicians - but then the politicians have lost favour with Blackpool,
for refusing them the much-needed super casino for which it was the obvious
Such carps aside, however, the seaside, especially in an Indian summer, is the
natural home for a political conference. Despite Gordon's insistence that
'there's a lot to be serious about', the promenade and the pier are not venues
where one can be serious for long. An outbreak of hilarity is just what Serious
New Labour could have done with this week.
Next week it is the Tories' turn. Instead of one of the three Bs they have opted
for a fourth - Birmingham.
Rather them than me.
When Ed Balls, instead of becoming simply the Education Secretary, was allowed
to go about calling himself the Children, Schools and Families Secretary, it was
obvious that no good would come of it.
Now here he is, ordering an inquiry into primary school lessons, and the team
behind that review calling for pupils to study 'concepts and skills' including
healthy eating, 'self esteem', sex and relationships, drugs and philosophy.
Anything to avoid drumming the five times table into the little angels.
If Balls were a proper Education Secretary he would be most concerned about
children of seven lacking the 'concepts
and skills' required for them to write
their own names.
As for healthy eating, I go by P.G. Wodehouse's dictum that an apple a day, if
well aimed, keeps the doctor away.
These three at the old Unhappidrome, 25.9.2008,
How can they do this to our own
17/03/04 - News section
by LYNDA LEE-POTTER, Daily
This week is the first
anniversary of the British invasion of Iraq.
It's a year since newspaper headlines and conversations were dominated by war.
Ordinary life seemed to be on hold and Army families were desperately worried
about the safety of their loved ones.
However, they had an additional fear which the rest of us did not comprehend.
They knew that troops were terrifyingly ill-equipped as they went to fight an
Soldiers didn't have enough flak jackets, ammunition or antidotes in case of
chemical attacks. Their gas masks didn't fit and the filters intended to protect
them from chemical warfare were out of date and useless.
The new report by MPs about lack of basic equipment is shaming, damning and
devastating for the relatives of those who died. Their sons, husbands and
fathers were trained professional soldiers who accepted that war means
endangering their lives.
However, in spring 2003 they faced death not only from enemy attack but also
because of shoddy equipment, parsimony and disastrous Government planning which
we now realise was furtive, chaotic, rushed and dishonest.
In February last year, when the invasion was being planned and when he knew that
there was a chronic shortage of equipment, Geoff Hoon, our Secretary of State
for Defence, went skiing, saying that he hadn't had a break since Christmas.
His reaction whenever he's justifiably attacked is to bluster, fudge and pass
the buck. There may now be calls for his resignation but I hope he's forced to
stay and answer some vital questions.
Why did the Government send men and women to war with such haste? How could the
Prime Minister put young lives in danger when foresight would have ensured that
they were properly equipped?
Why did Geoff Hoon constantly lie about the shortage of armoury and protective
Tank commander Sergeant Steven Roberts was the first British soldier to be
killed in action. He died unnecessarily after he gave his body armour to a foot
soldier because there weren't enough sets to go round.
When his widow Samantha determined to find out the truth, she was initially
treated with disdain by Geoff Hoon. He patronisingly told her that she should
behave like other bereaved families, go away and stop making a fuss.
When he thought, mistakenly, that she was a malleable widow who could be
intimidated, he was brusque and aloof and made her feel a nuisance.
Today, she and the parents, wives and children of dead soldiers are still unable
to rebuild their lives because their grief is poisoned with anger, mistrust and
The Prime Minister deliberately created an atmosphere of fear to pursue his own
How would he have felt if his 20-year-old son Euan had been sent to fight
without a steel lining in his flak jacket?
How angry would he be now if his elder son had died because the Government lied
and acted with undue haste for its own ends?
Shamingly, all too often the Prime Minister proves he's prepared to make
decisions for other people's sons that he would not take for his own.
We know that Tony Blair ruthlessly used untruths to frighten those who were
initially opposed to war.
However, if he'd told the House of Commons that our troops were being sent to
Iraq without adequate clothing, without sufficient arms and with ineffective
protection from chemical warfare, I suspect that the majority of MPs would not
have supported him.
When it came to the crunch, Tony Blair showed little concern for our soldiers.
They were there to be exploited for his own ends.
tabloids > The Sun
Mr Blair, you have
wasted six years
THE SUN SAYS
SUN READERS have run out of patience with the
For six years the nation has heard an unending stream of
pledges . . .
But today the goodwill of our readers, and the rest of the
country, is finally draining away.
People are fed up with broken promises, fed up with spin,
fed up with the blind arrogance of those in power.
Voters have given Labour the yellow card. And Tony Blair
must raise his game or the red card will be next.
As the Labour Party conference gets down to business today,
the Prime Minister must know he is fighting for his political life.
Again and again, Blair has pledged he is committed to vital
reforms in public services. The well-being of this country depends upon these
UK tabloids > The Daily Mirror
Vicar 'terrorised by
Family bombarded with
vampires, who boasted of drinking each other's blood, waged a campaign of terror
against a vicar and his family, a jury heard yesterday.
Scott Bower, 26, and
Benjamin Lewis were joined by Lewis's girlfriend Natalie Gibson, 19, who
allegedly howled like a wolf from a graveyard close to the vicarage.
The group deny
religiously aggravated harassment - the first time in Britain anyone has been
charged with committing the crime against a Christian.
claims they made scores of abusive telephone calls to the Rev Christopher
Rowberry and his family, set off fireworks at the vicarage and left obscene
pictures, including one of a disembowelled Christ, on a church notice board.
When police raided
Lewis's home, they found pictures of him and Bower apparently drinking each
other's blood. Lewis, 25, allegedly told officers: "I am a vampire and proud."
prosecuting, told the jury at Southampton crown court that several times dad of
two Mr Rowberry challenged his tormentors to "come over here and howl, you
Mr Rowberry, vicar of
the 9th century St Mary the Virgin in Eling, near Southampton, told the jury
that he and his family were bombarded in the middle of the night by loud howling
outside the vicarage and "strange" phone calls.
"The howling was very
loud. We had double glazing and yet it would still wake my family during the
He said he could not
take the phone off the hook because he wanted to be available to help a dying
Mr Rowberry added
that he found a picture under his car windscreen wiper showing the mutilated
body of Jesus. He said he also found a set of branches, bound together to form a
satanic five-pointed star, outside the front door of his church.
He said that one
night fireworks were thrown into the garden, adding: "It was extremely
On another night, Mr
Rowberry and his wife were outside their home when a car kept driving past.
He said: "I saw Scott
Bower hanging out of the window. He had his head and shoulders out of the window
and he was howling like a wolf as he went by."
Newton-Price told the jury: "There is only so much of this treatment and
harassment that any person can take.
"It appears to be
motivated by some hostility on the part of the defendants against the Christian
The trial continues
Daily Mirror, Geoffrey Lakeman, p. 15, 10.10.2003,
HOWARD EMERGES FROM DARKNESS
AS IDS IS BURIED
"Michael Howard ghosts in from the shadows to
announce Tory leadership intentions
after MPs sank their fangs into Iain
Duncan Smith... "
31 October 2003
Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia
journalism > newspaper
journalism > magazine
journalism > journalist
journalism > source
media > photojournalism
media > journalism > illustrations, cartoons
media empires, spin
broadcasting > TV
media > TV
media > digital media