Sunday, 10 July 2011

It was on twitter first - is the tabloid press becoming obsolete?

thank you and goodbye

Was the front-page headline which signified the last ever edition of the News of the World - the UK's biggest selling Sunday newspaper. The paper closed this week amid allegations of phone hacking.

But this is not about the phone hacking scandal, which has been discussed in great depth in the media over the past months, and which I have no doubt will be continued to be discussed as an enquiry is launched, but whether there really is still a place for tabloid newspapers in our society.

The News of the World and other papers like it such as the Sun, the Mirror, the Daily Star and other tabloids make most of their profit from publishing stories based on the private lives of what are mostly public figures. It is not unheard of for any one of the above publications to run with an "exclusive" story on the perceived wrongdoings of any celebrity figure.

However, with the increased use of social media such as Facebook AND Twitter, it could be argued that we no longer have a need to pay to read about which footballer has cheated on their wife, or which actress has just had cosmetic surgery, as this information is usually published on Twitter before too long - often even before it appears in the press.

In fact, recently Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs, who had taken out an injunction to prevent details of his private life being published in the press, found out that preventing publication didn't prevent the information becoming public knowledge, as it was posted on Twitter within days, and was soon public knowledge to far more people than would have been the case had the information just been published in the Sunday tabloids.

Aside from that, most celebrities do now have their own Twitter accounts, usually with several hundred thousand followers, which enables them to make information about themselves public without having to wait for it to be published in the press.

I personally have no idea why anyone would want to read about Ryan Giggs' affairs or Katie Price's latest boyfriend/diet/cosmetic surgery, however, it is clear from sales of both the tabloids and the celebrity magazines that there is a definite market for this kind of information. But given our media has expanded beyond print, and even paid media to Twitter/Facebook, it is surely not unreasonable to question whether the tabloid newspaper with its gossip columns is fast becoming obsolete and will soon be replaced by user-led distribution of information, as our access to social media increases.


  1. I wonder whether we are, as a society, finally moving away from the Cock and Whore of the tabloid press. *crosses fingers*

  2. I think the biggest shift will come in the next 5-10 years, as the population shifts from a majority who grew up reading papers and magazines to a majority who have grown up with facebook and twitter.

    It will be interesting to see how it pans out, though I think people will sadly remain all too interested in the private lives of people they wish they were/knew/looked like for a while yet.