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July 27 , 2008

Tabloid Valley

Supermarket News and American Culture


With sensational headlines and scandalous photos, supermarket tabloids dish out the dirt on everyone and everything from space aliens and Bat Boy to Elvis and Britney. Although they were once the pariah of traditional journalism, tabloids have gained credibility in recent years and today their lurid style – and sometimes their reportage – is even imitated by mainstream news outlets.

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In Tabloid Valley, Paula Morton explores the cultural impact of the sensationalist press over the years, focusing on Generoso Pope Jr.'s decision in 1971 to move the editorial offices of the National Enquirer from New Jersey to Florida. This bold step initiated a mass exodus of similar publications to the Sunshine State where six of the largest circulation weeklies – the Star, the Globe, the Weekly World News, the Sun, the National Examiner, and the Enquirer – were eventually consolidated under a single owner, American Media, Inc. Florida's favorable business climate and a booming southern frontier created the perfect environment for the tabloids and their writers to flourish.

Morton goes behind the scenes to examine every facet of modern yellow journalism: what headlines sell and why, how the journalists gather the news, the recent and ongoing downturn in circulation, what the tabloids are doing to maintain their foothold, and, most important, what the tabloid news says about American culture.

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