Colloquia #14: Tabloidization and the Media

, London, UK

Call for papers

There is widespread concern that the mass media are experiencing a process of “tabloidization.” This involves a shift to new and more entertainment-oriented kinds of content, and a shift from verbal to visual priorities. The most serious questions concern the relationship between the mass media and political life. One of the traditional functions ascribed to the mass media is to inform citizens about the public affairs of their societies. The shift towards entertainment based content leaves less and less room for this informative function. Another problem is the role of the media as the form for rational debate. The shift in the kind of language used, and the stress upon the sensational and the emotive, and the increasing domination of visually determined discourse, under-mine the place of reason. At their most extreme, critics of tabloidization see it as one major element provoking a crisis of public life that is eroding the basis of democracy. On the other hand, there are those who argue that there is little or no evidence for growing tabloidization, and that the traditional functions of the mass media continue to be discharged at least as well as they have been in the past. Others welcome the spread of tabloidization, which they see as broadening and democratising the content of the mass media. The old ways of the media were the preserve of an elite minority and they served to exclude the voices and concerns of the majority of the population, particularly the poor and women.

The aim of this Colloquium, to be held in September 1998 in London is to review the range of debate about tabloidization. The organisers would welcome proposals for papers addressing any aspect of the issue, whether concerned with the empirical evidence or the possible implications. The organisers do not intend to prioritise any particular approach, method or attitude towards the issues under consideration. The aim of the Euricom colloquia is to reflect a range views in order to stimulate debate.