New York tabloids – the Brit factor

Roy Greenslade relays the news that a six-week documentary is going to portray the tabloid wars between New York’s Daily News and Post. I wonder if the substantial Anglo-Australian input into that city’s tabs is going to feature? The stars of the series are supposed to various reporters but, as everyone who has ever had to write a story to go with a headline (rather than the other way around) knows, the best tabs are driven by the subs, and they are driven by the editor, and they have an odd tendency to be not from the USA but from London (and sometimes Sydney). Elsewhere in the Guardian, US commentator Jeff Jarvis maps the latest Brit invasion of the States,,1811775,00.html and says there’s a gap for Brits there because "the American news media are staggering from plummeting circulation, depressed ad revenue, declining trust, and a lack of invention and daring." OK, he’s not talking about the tabs, but about some qualities that run right through British journalism, so much so that he says it’s the UK media that could end up the "truly global news brand of tomorrow." Wow – if only we were that good at soccer. But how has the USA developed this deficit in its journalism, in the land that gave us Hearst and Pulitzer? And what on earth could we possibly have that they want? This happens to be a fascination of mine, so much so that I’m halfway to embarking on a PHd study of it. It’s better than watching football, anyway.

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3 Responses to New York tabloids – the Brit factor

  1. Robert Andrews says:

    Hasn’t the Post’s Brit experiment been reversed a bit?

    Had an interesting conversation with the UK editor of a US-based publication a few months back, who noted that, whilst Brits can get editor jobs in the US, it doesn’t work the other way around – he was pretty miffed at that as well.

    The differences – V interesting study topic.

    Haven’t read Jarvis’ latest yet, but I would say this side of the pond makes fertile ground for his consultancy. Has his evangelism over there run its course? (playing devil’s advocate. probably not).

  2. rob says:

    I think the Brit involvement ebbs and flows, and one of the things I’m trying to nail down is the prevailing direction of the flow over time. The books on the turn-of-the-century press barons seem to disagree, some arguing that Northcliffe taught the Americans how to do popular journalism (I suspect that’s US scholars trying to disown the tabloid monster) and others sugesting that, in fact, we learnt it all from them. I’m wondering whether the tabloid thing is always best done by outsiders, who dare to push the envelope or whatever that awful phrase is, and then the ‘respectable’ press take the best from the experience. Maybe there’s an academic paper to be written about doing your PHd via blog – just cut and paste the comments at the end of three years, and there’s your thesis. But I don’t suppose it’s allowed…

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