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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 16-Dec-18


Sunday 16-Dec-18

Tabloids, Trump and the media: shock, outrage and the unholy alliance

Newspapers have historically been divided into two categories: Broadsheets and Tabloids. Characteristically, broadsheets are large and read by serious, well-educated people. They cover 'real news' and major matters of the day, about politics, business and society, at home and abroad. On the other hand, the traditional tabloid is smaller in format and is more like a magazine, giving news about celebrities equal footing with brief mention of some of the broadsheet topics.

But the once-yawning gap between these has, of late, reduce and overlapped, and none more so than in the realm of politics. While the tabloids have increased political coverage, the broadsheets have descended to more shock and outrage, traditionally more the domain of the tabloids.

This change reflects our troubled times, where polarized politics and populism are the order of the day. Traditional parties are becoming further to the left and right, while new politicians enter the fray by playing on fears even as they join the traditionalists at the trough of personal gain.

There also has arisen a breed of politician who plays this game well, promising to fix the system while wallowing in it. President Donald Trump of course springs to mind, though there are many lesser would-be dictators around the world.

The media of all shapes are also to blame for this, too, reporting daily on the latest outrage. Trump criticizes them frequently, yet he desperately needs them to give oxygen for his attentional needs. It is very much an unholy alliance, each hating the other yet needing them too. From a capitalist viewpoint, you can?t blame the media: CNN, for example, made $1B profit in the first year after Trump was elected and the Guardian has successfully developed a crowdfunding model where over a million people worldwide have contributed to help this UK newspaper remain independent from political donation and consequent influence.

Our phones and other devices and the apps on them hook us in and have created a news addiction, where we check through the day for the latest shock and horror rather than waiting for tomorrow's newspapers. And the media, including traditional channels, feed this frenzy. And Trump content is easy money. Millions of people hang on his every word, many getting their thrills from the outrage he feeds them. 'Do you know what Trump has said now??' is a popular refrain, even as yesterday's outrage is forgotten.

It spreads elsewhere too. In Britain there is the Brexit madness. In France there are regular riots. Even in the bastion of stability, Germany, the right are rising again. Politics has become a performance art where tragi-comedy leads us to hysterical reaction. And the media, including the echo chambers of smart social apps, keep stoking the fires.

The game has not yet reached its apogee, its climax, its ultimate chaos. Who knows where it will go.

Anyway, enough of all that. You must excuse me if I go check the news.

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