Why We Need the Tabloids

RYAN LINKOF, lecturer in history

“As long as we have had tabloids, we have had tabloid scandals.

Weighing in on the spate of scandals plaguing the British tabloid press, one commentator in 1936 acidly condemned what he called “the almost unbelievable indecency of the intrusion of the tabloid newspaper into people’s private lives.” Surely only the most degraded, low-minded people, he claimed, could produce this kind of news.

The article, from the magazine Fortnightly, was part of an ongoing debate in the interwar years about the intrusions of certain newspapers — the tabloids chief among them — into moments of “private grief.” The debate eventually made its way into the House of Commons, where major news agencies were encouraged to punish reporters who violated standards of decency in pursuit of a story. Surely, 75 years on, newspapers should have learned their lesson.

As recent events have shown, the tabloids have not lost their grip on indecent reporting, especially when it comes to breaches of privacy.  Yet this is, I think, for the better.”

For the full commentary, visit The New York Times.

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