Media Magazine

Not All “tabloids” Are Created Equal

Posted on the 17 July 2011 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: It’s been a bad two weeks for tabloids generally.  The news surrounding the phone hacking allegations against the now defunct News of the World contributes to give the already damaged word “tabloid” further punishment. Let’s make sure we differentiate between a bad example and the impact of those where good, fun journalism is practiced.  PLUS: Coca Cola Zero with a golden touch

Tabloids: There comes that dirty word connotation again

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This combo shows last front page of the News of the World, along with the main protagonists in the phone hacking scandal, Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks, James Murdoch


Two UK newspapers that have kept the phone hacking scandal story alive: The Guardian, The Independent, both in compact formats

Here we go again: just when I thought that the term “tabloid” was beginning to shed its bad boy image in the mindset of publishers, editors and, of course, readers, here comes the News of the World scandal to set us back at least 10 years.

When I wrote The Impact of the Compact in 2005, I was optimistic enough to write a section titled : Tabloid not a dirty word anymore.

I continued to remind to refer to those who equate tabloid formats with lesser quality journalism that this is nothing but a “myth”.  “I find the myth difficult to debunk, “ I wrote.  I added that more than a myth, I saw the reluctance of some newspapers to switch to smaller formats as an irrational fear of the word tabloid itself.

But the tumultous events of the past two weeks, surrounding News Corp, the Murdoch empire and including the closing of News of the World (where the alleged phone-hacking episodes began), the dropping of News Corp’s bid for BSkyB, the resignation and Sunday arrest of Rebekah Brooks (chief News Corp lieutenant in the UK), and last Friday the resignation of Les Hinton, the man who rose to become Chief Executive Officer of Dow Jones & Company and Publisher of The Wall Street Journal, have now put the word “tabloid” in the company of adjectives that will not serve to inspire a rush on the part of many publishers to switch their broadsheet newspapers to a smaller format.

I have jotted down the words that are becoming adjectives attached to the word tabloid as the News of the World story is covered: raucous tabloid”, “sensationalistic tabloid”, “irresponsible tabloid styled reporting”, “insensitive tabloid coverage”, and “tabloids digging in the sewers”.

Fears re-enacted

In the last week alone, in conversations with two of my clients who are discussing the potential redesign of their product,  each had something to say with regard to tabloid formats.

We would consider a reduction of size, but I admit that the idea of tabloid does not sound very good to us right now in view of the developments in the UK.

The other one, based in the US, simply said: “We always knew how sleazy these British tabloids were, now there is proof, which is one reason American newspapers have stayed in the broadsheet format.“

Not quite so, but, you see, already the river runs high with suspicions of tabloids being less than serious or guilt by association.  I remind these clients that what is happening with News of the World has little to do with the format on which the tainted content has been printed.  I also remind them that it was a “small format” newspaper in the UK, The Guardian, which never dropped the story of the phone hacking even when others did.

And another tabloid format UK daily, The Independent, ran a cover story in its On Sunday section yesterday, designed to look like a front page of The Sun, another one of Murdoch’s UK tabloids, with the headline: Would the last Murdoch to leave the country please turn out the light?

Compact is still the way to go

Whatever twists and turns the News of the World phone-hacking scandal takes this week——and this is a fast unraveling story with many surprises along the way as it befits anything having to do with media mogul Rupert Murdoch-—we know well that this, too, will pass.  Hopefully, publishers will continue to realize that when deciding on formats for their printed newspapers, compact is the way, or tabloid by whichever name.

Let’s not confuse the specifics of the now defunct News of the World ,and what happened there, with the format itself. 

There may be a difference between a Murdochian tab and other type of tabs.  Let us not allow the impact of an isolated scandal rest importance to the impact of the compact.

In my view, tabloid is still NOT a dirty word.

Masculine, caffeine free ….and gold: the new Coca Cola Zero

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The new Coca Cola Zero caffeine free sports a gold logo (Frank Deville Photos)

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Here is the better known can of Coca Cola Zero, with red lettering, and the new in gold

As one who is always keeping an eye out for logos, and how brands extend themselves and provide change and surprises, I was quite surprised to see a can of Coca Cola Zero, in its caffeine free version, sporting not red, but gold letters.  Normally, we associate Coca Cola’s logo with red, but for this one edition of Coca Cola Zero, golden letters are used.  I was quite attracted to the black can with the gold letters in Luxembourg, but I have not seen such display anywhere else. I am wondering whether Coca Cola is experimenting with the different color for this product, or if this is an Europe-only brand strategy.

While in the process of reading up on Coca Cola Zero for this blog post I finally got an explanation for the reason there is a Coca Cola Zero.  Supposedly, it is marketed primarily for men, who, says the report, do not like to associate themselves with products labeled “diet”, which they consider a feminine term.  Zero, then, sounds and is more macho, thus Coca Cola Zero is marketed to the male market.

Gold Letters?  An appeal to the macho ego, golden moments, golden boys and success, I guess.

Back in Malaysia

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It is Asia this week for me and our Garcia Media art director, Constantin Eberle, as we prepare to work with the team of the New Straits Times.  I will be reporting from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this week. Because of the drastic 12-hour difference between Kuala Lumpur and the east coast of the US (six hours difference with most European capitals), the posting time of this blog may be a little awkward, but, hopefully, you will find a new daily entry when you wake up, regardless of where you are!

TheMarioBlog post #810

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