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Tablodization and the Media, Vol. 5 - 1998, No. 3

Tabloidised Political Coverage in Bild-Zeitung

, pages: 79-93

As modern democracies need the politically informed citizen and as politics nearly cannot be experienced and judged without the help of the mass media, there is growing concern for a tabloidisation process affecting the political news discourse within the media culture. This may be explained by both the consequences deriving from the symbiotic relationship between the media and the political system and the commercialisation of the media system since the opening of the television market in the mid 1980s in Germany. German research analyses of the phenomenon of tabloidisation have mainly been restricted to the audio-visual media. The paper intends to give a clearer insight into the nature of "tabloidised" political coverage in the press by describing its potential extreme forms. The prototypical representative of tabloid journalism in Germany is, in our opinion, the Bild-Zeitung. Taking the Bild as a kind of yardstick, as a prototype for tabloid journalism in Germany the manifest and traditional political content of its news discourse has been analysed using framing-analytical techniques. Frames combine a pragmatical, semantical and syntactical dimension, as they serve as internalised guides for information processing and as they convey thematically consonant meanings constructed from and embodied in the keywords, metaphors, concepts, symbols and other lexical or visual "bricks" of a given news discourse. Our exploratory analysis of the headlines in the copies of three different months in 1987, 1990 and 1994 each revealed six consistent and repetitive news frames which have been designated as follows: "politicians-as- ordinary-people", "politics-as-personal-confrontation-or-agreement", "women-politicians-as- typical-females", "the-power-block-vs.-the-people", "political-education-and-advice" and "anti-communism".

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