Market Forces versus Professionalism:A Priority Dilemma Resultingin Departures from Traditional Layout ofthe Standard Newspaper
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The phenomenon of tabloidization enteredthe realmof journalism as an undesirabletrend as early as 1833 when the “penny press” emerged in US cities. These tabloid papers wrote for semiliterateindustrial workerswho preferredheavily illustrated news storiesthat concentrated on sensationand not objectivity; the personal asopposed to the public, as well as scandal, lifestyle and human sufferingin place of economic and political news. These tabloids built up a massmarket thatthose in the elitist market started to eye with envy. The result was that mainstream spreadsheets started sneaking in a few tabloid elements, so as to get abigger share of the readership, that had got addicted to the entertaining style and layout of the tabloid papers. This study aimed atassessing the extent to which TheStandard newspaper, a traditionalspreadsheet, has tabloidised its layout due to market pressure. The Standard is the second largestdaily in Kenyain terms of circulation. Many elitist dailies have embraced elements of tabloidization in their layout, in order to get an edge in thecompetition for market share. The study found thatthe layout of TheStandard was toan extent tabloidized. Among other things, the front pages were manipulated to increasethe visual effect so as to create an urge to buy among the readers. Pictures chosen to illustrate some stories were too graphic and carried emotivesemiotic messages. Some pages were crowded with tiny storiesthat lackeddepth detail and analysis. Based on the agenda setting theory and the visual semiotics theory, this study used the qualitative analysis of layouts of pages of The Standard, as well as photographs from the editions of the paper, selected from the years between 1995 and 2015. The study confirmed the incidence of tabloid elements inthe layout of The Standard.