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The perspective of the readers of serious vs. tabloid papers

It has been stated above that news is a genre which is “not open to interpretation” and that the readers of newspapers, whether serious or tabloid, are expected to arrive at “the same consensual conclusions” (Jewkes 2004). In crime news this mainly consists in recognizing the “good” and “evil” and identifying the desired vs. unacceptable models of behaviour both for serious papers’ and tabloid papers’ readers; there is very little space, if any, for controversy over who is to blame and who is to pity. Filicide or a particularly violent murder of a child or a very young, innocent person by a stranger belong to those types of crime that the “civilized society” considers abhorrent and reprehensible and that must be severely punished.

The above mentioned examples clearly illustrate that serious and popular papers differ mainly in the style and language means that they use to construct the social identity of victims and killers and thus communicate a particular, favourable or unfavourable, view of the participants. Tabloid readers are presented with ready-made, direct evaluations, which they are expected to accept and agree with. Serious papers, which strive not to lose their traditional reputation of being objective newspapers in comparison with tabloids, cannot afford to present any evaluations that could be attributed to the paper itself. Instead, they use mediated evaluations clearly coming from outside sources and easily identified by readers as voices other than that of the newspaper. Positive or negative information about the victim’s and killer’s previous behaviour, background, nature, etc., contains implications that lead the reader to make a positive or negative view of the participants but also particular behaviour patterns, which conform or do not conform to the traditional values. Thus, crime news may be used to help the readers make sense of their own existence and values and their social role or position in the society, and is inevitably part of the agenda of newspapers and other modern media.

 
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