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Tabloid journalism is a style of journalism that emphasizes sensational crime stories, gossip columns about celebrities and sports stars, junk food news and astrology. Although it is associated with tabloid-size newspapers, not all newspapers associated with tabloid journalism are tabloid size, and not all tabloid-size newspapers engage in tabloid journalism.
Notable publications engaging in tabloid journalism include the National Enquirer, National Examiner, and Globe in North America; and the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Daily Record, Sunday Mail, The Sun and the former News of the World in the United Kingdom.
Tabloid journalism often concerns itself with rumors about the private lives of celebrities. In some cases, celebrities have successfully sued for libel, demonstrating that tabloid stories have defamed them.
In the United States and Canada, "supermarket tabloids" are large, national versions of these tabloids, usually published weekly. They are named for their prominent placement along the checkout lines of supermarkets. Supermarket tabloids are particularly notorious for the over-the-top sensationalizing of stories, the facts of which can often be called into question. These tabloids—such as The Globe and The National Enquirer—often use aggressive and usually mean-spirited tactics to sell their issues. Unlike regular tabloid-format newspapers, supermarket tabloids are distributed through the magazine distribution channel, similarly to other weekly magazines and mass-market paperback books. Leading examples include The National Enquirer, Star, Weekly World News (itself a parody of the style), and the Sun.
A major event in the history of U.S. supermarket tabloids was the successful libel lawsuit by Carol Burnett against The National Enquirer (Carol Burnett v. National Enquirer, Inc.), arising out of a false 1976 report in The National Enquirer, implying actress-comediene Carol Burnett was drunk and boisterous in a public encounter with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Though its impact is widely debated, it is generally seen as a significant turning point in the relations between celebrities and tabloid journalism, increasing the willingness of celebrities to sue for libel in the U.S., and somewhat dampening the recklessness of U.S. tabloids.
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Tabloid newspapers in the United Kingdom, collectively called "the tabloid press", tend to be simply and sensationally written and to give more prominence than broadsheets to celebrities, sports, crime stories, and even hoaxes. They also take political positions on news stories: ridiculing politicians, demanding resignations, and predicting election results.
Given the associations with the word tabloid in Britain, it is often not applied to newspapers such as The Times or The Independent that have adopted the physical format of a tabloid, having previously been broadsheets.
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- Martin Conboy (2006). Tabloid Britain: Constructing a Community Through Language. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-35553-7.
- Kevin Glynn (2000). Tabloid Culture: Trash Taste, Popular Power, and the Transformation of American Television. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-2550-0.
- Paula E. Morton (2009). Tabloid Valley: Supermarket News and American Culture. University Press of Florida. ISBN 978-0-8130-3364-8.
- Colin Sparks; John Tulloch (2000). Tabloid Tales: Global Debates over Media Standards. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-8476-9572-0.
- Herman Wasserman (2010). Tabloid Journalism in South Africa: True Story!. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-22211-4.
- Barbie Zelizer, ed. (2009). The Changing Faces of Journalism: Tabloidization, Technology and Truthiness. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-77824-4.