WEB: Tabloid




These days, newspapers are big, fat bores. Or is that whores? Alt-weeklies slide too often into preachiness and writerly self-admiration, while, at the other extreme, most dailies lack even the ambition to be relevant. Thus, with a bow to old-timers like Jimmy Breslin and Mike Royko, the online news daily TABLOID was launched six months ago, aiming to conquer reader apathy through sensationalized truth and 120-point headlines. This self-described "tabloid for smart people" culls bizarre but factual items from news wires and stringers around the world, repackaging and sometimes rewriting copy for maximum trash appeal ("We're here to take the news back to the alley behind the bar and beat the hell out of it," write the editors).

Headlines may range from "DWARF HACKS HOOKER!" to "HE'S NUTS! INDONESIAN MAN WON'T LEAVE TREE!" but the sugar is wrapped around a pill: While you're gobbling up a piece about the Thai prime minister's wife sacrificing a chicken to save his career, you're also swallowing a ton of information about Thai politics and culture. You suck up blood and bullets in the blow-by-blow account of Zaire's recent coup, and--well, that's the story, one you won't get on NPR.

Of course, some of the headlines are more exciting than the stories themselves (e.g. "TOURIST STEALS DIANA'S TEDDY!" is about someone swiping a teddy bear from a memorial). Also, a fair number of stories don't matter much, and the site can take a while to download. But TABLOID is still in its infancy, and its ethics are seductive: 1. Liars, frauds, and bores must be punished; 2. Headlines must be extremely large; and 3. The voice of outrage is the enemy of evil.

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