Media Magazine

It Was a Week Made in Downmarket Tabloid Heaven

Posted on the 05 June 2012 by Themarioblog @garciainteract


TAKEAWAY: If you followed the strangely horrific cycle of news last week, you know that it was a celebration of tabloid journalism at its lowest low, but with real stories that ranked front page treatment among the most elite publications.

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According to TIME magazine, its #1 and #2 most read stories of the week involve cases that make us remember that iconic headline of a long time ago: Headless body found in topless bar.

In fact, the headlines that ranked in TIME’s  list as most popular make that headline look like something mild and even entertaining. Here they are:

1. Naked Man Chews Other Guy’s Face, Shot Dead by Cops

2. Zombie Alert: Man Throws His Own Intestines at Police

Not to mention that the Zombie Apocalyse phrase—long a staple of newspapers that we only glanced at while checking out at the supermarket—-seems to have gained popularity in the past few days as a result of the Miami face-eating incident.

And, wait a minute, let’s not forget the story from Canada of the
%0A" title="porn star accused">porn star accused of chopping up and eating his male partner.  Also in the news cycle last week: a chef who severed and served his own testicles.

In the spirit of facilitating navigation and doing its usual effective packaging, The Huffington Post put the stories together this way:

Cannibals In The News: Five Bizarre Acts Of Human Flesh Eating In One Week

A spirited tabloid journalism celebration

Oh, to be the editor of a REAL tabloid newspaper with stories like these.

I am thinking of about three such editors I have met since I entered this constantly amazing profession.  All three are dead now, but these headlines bring back my memory of their faces, their body movements, the way they savored stories that they thought were grand, but which are definitely “sensational light” when compared to these recent happenings.  It may sound like a cliché, but these men were 1930s retro in the 1960s: fedora hat, reporter’s notebook sticking out of their back pockets, a somewhat disheveled look, cigar smokers and a “nothing shocks me” attitude.

The story with Edna Buchanan written all over it

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Legendary crime reporter Edna Buchanan; an iconic crime reporter/courtesy:; photo: The Guardian

How I wish the story of the Miami face eating man could have been covered for The Miami Herald by its legendary (former) crime reporter, Edna Buchanan. Buchanan, the self proclaimed Queen of Crime, and author of such novels as The Corpse Had a Familiar Face (which would not have applied in this most recent incident!), covered crime for The Miami Herald  for 18 years. According to her website, she reported more than 5,000 violent deaths, 3,000 of them murders.  But I bet even diehard, have-seen-it-all Edna was shocked by this latest crime in her city.

Used to be stories like the ones in the news last week were the type one assumed had been invented by the editor of a sleazy supermarket tabloid with an ample imagination, but that was before the National Enquirer reinvented itself as slightly more serious,  got into investigative journalism (The John Edwards affair story) and there was even talk of a possiblePulitzer Prize for first exposing the story.

As they say, sometimes reality is better than anything a creative writer, or, in this case, headline writer, could come up with.

The popular stories in last week’s cycle of cannibalistic horror prove the point.

All of this gives the phrase “meaty news coverage” new meaning.


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