As the soon to be 44th President of the United States stated in his acceptance speech last summer in Denver, birthplace of my birth, “At this defining moment, change has come to America.”
Little did we know then that the soon-to-be prez was talking about our local paper’s conversion to the tabloid system.
Little did we know then the religious significance of our South Whidbey Record’s metamorphosis from newspaper column format to tabloid.
As those of us raised near a Catholic church already know,
the tabloid format originated with God when Moses went to the top of the mountain to get the first tabloid available, the Ten Commandments.
I remember when we were kids visiting Grandfather Strahan in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Grandfather, like Moses, had to walk a long way to get his news, The Hattiesburg American.
Before there were newspaper boys and news stands on the street corners of everyday America, men walked long distances to get their news.
Some walked to hotels.
Some walked to saloons.
A few skipped to brothels.
Before there were telephones with party lines, men searched high and low for news.
These men were called “tab hunters,” or men in search of “tabs” or bits of news.
The first men to offer to “pick up the tab” were not necessarily generous, just nosy and desirous of reading local news.
According to Wikipedia, “the word ‘tabloid’ comes from the name given by the London based pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome and Co. to the compressed tablets that they marketed as ‘Tabloid’ pills in the 1880s. Prior to compressed tablets, medicine was usually taken in bulkier powder form.
“The connotation of ‘tabloid’ was soon applied to other small items and to the ‘compressed journalism’ that condensed stories into a simplified, easily-absorbed format.’
“The label of ‘tabloid journalism’ in 1901 preceded the smaller sheet newspapers that contained it.”
The New York Daily News, founded in 1919, was the first daily tabloid in the United States.
Keep in mind, dear readers of this hand-held or table supported 430mm by 280mm of compact communication, the essence of tabloiding is format, not content.
Despite my lobbying efforts, our newly sized and shapely South Whidbey Record will in no way exhibit typical big-city tabloid fare with sensational crime stories, steamy gossip and big-print crosswords.
With our new tabloid format, we join many prestigious and honored publications throughout the world.
Germany’s Bild-Zeitung, the most widely circulated newspaper in Europe, is tabloid with more than 4 million copies.
In Oman, TheWeek, is a free, 48-page all-color independent weekly published from Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman.
This columnist attempted a long-distance interview with Ms. Mohana Prabhaker, managing editor of TheWeek, but was unable to understand anything she was saying.
I sensed however that she was tabloid supportive.
We hope you will be, unless you are reading this on a computer monitor.
In that case, please turn your head sideways for the full tabloid effect.