Writing Tabloid News
Many of us have come to equate the word "tabloid" with the trashy, sleazy, low class, scummy sensational papers you only read out of the corner of your eye while in line at the supermarket checkout queue.
It's the format, not the content.
The word (tabloid) -- in official professional newspaper terminology-- actually refers to the newspaper format whose pages measure about 11 inches by 12 1/2 inches, as opposed to the larger "broadsheet" style of most metro daily newspapers.
Yet the connotation of "tabloid" , especially when used in phrases like "tabloid news", has developed a somewhat grimy undertone.
When I sent an article to an editor of a fine, upstanding, valiant, decent, tabloid-format publication, she expressed some alarm at my passing reference about "garbage printed in tabloid papers".
I quickly reassured her that I, in no way, ever had the slightest cognizant or deliberate association of "her tabloid" with "those tabloids", especially since she seemed interested in my writing.
I also hoped that using words like "cognizent" would impress her with my obvious superior vocabulary.
With near-maniaical immediacy verging on panic, and the phrase "you just blew it" echoing over and over in my head, I explained that I was referring to tabloid-type content rather than tabloid-style format when I made the comment.
Possibly, I need to revise my terminology, because like some of you, I was thinking of garbage relative to trashy, sensational, whacky, incredible publications like the ones with headlines such as: "Prophetic message seen on Portuguese fish-drying rack" or, "Wife divorces 400 lb. spouse to marry 500 lb. lover" or "Decapitated head whispers murderer's name".
I could never make up stuff like that. (Though I did fabricate the example headlines.)
My early training was in writing for respectable PTA bulletins and Little League newsletters which rarely gave opportunities to write about whispering decapitated heads.
In fact, when something stupid happens in a Little League game, those reports always require careful, respectable, tactful recounting. Those who were at the game will know the truth. Those who were not, don't need to know the embarrasing details.
If little Jimmy Stumblemeyer (name changed to protect the innocent . . . me. Real name: Stumblemaster)... falls over the base and tags his own teammate, after bouncing the ball, while facing in the wrong direction, you learn to report it as "a noble and valiant effort".
This type of writing--I mean using words like "noble" and "valiant" -- doesn't appear in those trashy tabloids
Michael Jackson - Tabloid Junkie Video
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Besides, trying to write for "those" publications can be risky. Can you imagine getting a rejection slip from a sleazy scummy tabloid? How low can you get?
It would be disgraceful.
I've been writing long enough to have a considerable file of rejection slips from some very prestigious, respectable and esteemed publications.
My rejection file, however, is titled "publications correspondence" since the last thing I want to see, when I open my file drawer, is the word "Rejection Slips".
In the meantime, I wanted to reassure the editor of the aforementioned paper that I think her publication is a wonderful, decorous, civilized, and magnificent tabloid-format paper . . . and that she, herself, is a wonderful, discerning, decorous and magnificent editor.
In the meantime, I have asked her to disregard that story I sent about the lecherous, polka-dotted space creature who's been slurping up electrical energy from the nation's power grid.
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