Study: 'Tabloid-broadsheet divide has blurred'

Research by PR company Clarion Communications claims the once clear distinctions between quality newspapers and the tabloids has been eroded over the last 25 years.

Clarion analysed editions of The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, News of the World, Sunday Express and The Sunday Times in July 1986 and July 2011, looking at column inches over the first six pages.

The closure of the News of the World in mid-July meant the Sunday Mirror and the People were substituted in its place.

The research concluded that papers across the tabloid-broadsheet spectrum now broadly reported ‘identical content”. This is largely a result of the ‘digital revolution”, the study found.

The main finding were:

  • “Celebrity and celebrity-related TV, film and music news has rocketed in terms of coverage across all titles, particularly the Sundays, since 1986.
  • “At the same time, older newspaper story staples such as court reporting have sharply declined, again particularly in Sunday papers.
  • “International news across all papers receives 25 per cent less coverage across 2011 than it did in 1986 (from 4 to 3 per cent).

Much of the content in the papers from 1986 and 2011 was similar – with both news agendas dominated by ‘Royal Wedding Mania'(Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Prince William and Kate Middleton, ‘Troubled Pop Stars'(Boy George, Amy Winehouse) and ‘Soccer Bad Boys'(Maradona’s controversial ‘Hand of God’ World Cup, Ryan Giggs’ privacy injunction).

The study claimed ‘tabloids are now more likely to give space to hard news’but that broadsheets are ‘increasingly covering celebrity and other populist news stories”.

‘And while newspapers attempt to keep up with digital rivals, their news coverage has become homogenised – as tabloids and broadsheets move closer than ever before in terms of style, content and subject matter, with once clear distinctions between newspaper types becoming eroded,’it added.

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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