Over the past few years, there have been tremendous reforms and developments in the media industry. In particular there has been exponential growth in the number of media houses and media personnel. Besides, the advent of the internet has revolutionized the kind of news that gets wider viewing from the global audience. Among these changes is the rise in tabloid news featuring celebrities from Hollywood.
Tabloidization is now a common term used equally by employed journalists, academicians, and media critics to distinguish a recent trend in the mass media. The term tabloid is used in reference of a short article using pithy sentences, simple words, heavy pictures, about a sensational story, and whose stock in trade in traction of human interest. Tabloids tend to be full of short soft news, news that is less edgy, or challenging, and consisting of stories that grip the human interest in a spin.
Some of the news featured in tabloids includes gossips about celebrity lifestyles, scandals, latest movies, and almost everything in the pop culture industry. Tabloidization of news is thus the shift in priorities about news and information within a given medium about a solemn issue towards an assertion on entertainment. It involves the shift in focus by the press on public affairs issues such as political systems, state of the economy, and welfare of the people to focusing on soft news.
Though the mainstream media and elites in the industry have always trashed tabloids, some of the tools used in tabloids has gradually crawled into mainstream media and impacted both positively and negatively on quality of the news. The reference of particular individuals in the story, the widespread use of visual images, the whole layout of the story starting from size of the headline, the use of pictorial images, to the parting shot line, and use of photo enhancement techniques has led to better circulation, more audience, and thus colossal profits for mainstream media.
Relationship between celebrities and tabloids
Celebrities are the agenda setters of the contents of tabloid stories, in fact their entire life from what they eat, drive, wear, whom they date, whom they marry, to what they like has on several occasions been used to create riveting chanting stories that leave readers engrossed. The data on this content is usually sourced from small news items at the back page of traditional newspapers, or from interviews conducted with celebrities in mainstream media. The writers of the blogs will simply then call other few credible sources to get quotes, then embark on fleshing out the story and make it seem real and true. In this regards, tabloid do not really give the hard facts, but are rather based on speculations from purported witnesses or experts.
Most celebrities have also built a working relationship with tabloids, offering free inside stories through their publicists, in exchange for greater publicity. At times, the inside stories are used by the celebrities as a negotiation buck for avoiding tabloids from running negative stories that could have a damaging effect on their reputation as a movie star or renowned singer.
Besides, the publicists, the tabloid writers also maintain their own army of sources on celebrity news such as the security guards, hair stylist or personal assistants of the celebrity, who will call the writer whenever there is news about the superstar. These informants are usually paid huge amounts of money depending on the quality of the news in stirring interest and the pop idol involved. For instance, a story about Bella Thorne, who is a rising actress might be worth a few hundred bucks, while a major scoop about Beyonce the singer or George Clooney the A-list actor could be worth thousands.
The huge craving for celebrity news and photos has created a new niche of employment opportunity in Hollywood called paparazzi. Paparazzi are not just photographers capable of snapping quality pictures of celebrities, but those who go further to stalk them in a bid to get unflattering shots about them. The tabloids often get their stories from paparazzi in exchange for money
While some celebrities like The Kardashians have embraced tabloids and often come out to set records straight on misinformation about their family by the tabloids, some celebrities especially those who are new in the industry have a hard time managing tabloid stories and the paparazzi always chasing after them. In extreme cases, tabloids have ruined careers, marriages or relationships of some celebrities. For example, Kristen Stewart was a key actress in the exhilarating world acclaimed Twilight Series, but when paparazzi released photos of her kissing her director in the Snow White and Huntsman, she was dropped from filming season two of the blockbuster movie, and her relationship to co-star Robert Pattison ended.
Invasion of privacy and Speech
The whole process in which tabloids collects the stories is highly intrusive on personal space and freedom. The paparazzi for instance, stalk celebrities to their homes, giving them no time to spend with family or loved one. Any female celebrity, for example, Selena Gomez after splitting from longtime boyfriend Justin Bieber, when seen in the company of any male companion is interpreted by the tabloids as her boyfriend. They even pitch on their gates, compelling the celebrities to find alternative routes of getting out of their compounds unnoticed. They take pictures of their kids; follow them to malls and vacation, giving no time at all for privacy.
In some instances, these intrusions on privacy of celebrities have caused accidents. For example, the death of Princess Diana has been partly been blamed on the aggressive paparazzi who kept following her. There have also been numerous incidences of celebrities attacking paparazzi and destroying their cameras, or celebrities suing tabloid sites and newspapers. Sometimes, the paparazzi go further and file lawsuits against celebrities, not really for any damage, but because they want to synthesize more news and generate money from them.
Besides, every sentence if not every word used by a celebrity in an interview or public speech is cut and analyzed like a specimen. In most cases, the interpretations are out of context and malicious or just shifted to give an entertaining angle no matter the solemnity of the issue they were addressing. This explains why certain celebrities shy away totally from media attention, be it mainstream media or social media. In a nutshell, tabloids is a whole other new form of entertainment keen on keeping rating and people engrossed on certain sites. It is a form of reporting that contravenes almost all the journalism guidelines on objectivity and impartiality.