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Top Five Tabloid Cliches


Bill Lees
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I’ve had this book for years called “Keep Taking the Tabloids†by Fritz Spiegl. I’m always amused by it, because it’s absolutely true. It’s about how tabloid newspapers have a curious mode of language that is all their own – a mix of archaism and peculiar turns of phrase that just aren’t found anywhere else. Here’s the top six I can remember off the top of my head, but there are more.

1. Heart Attacks. Nobody who ever has a heart attack just has a heart attack. Oh no. In tabloid land, no heart attack is ever any less than massive.

2. Binoculars. Not a single pair of ordinary binoculars is to be had in tabloid land. Any binoculars used are never less than powerful.

3. The geographical possessive. Only in tabloid land is this used. As in “The woman was in the habit of walking along Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Streetâ€. Nobody ever talks like this in real life – “Aye awright Shug, I’ll see you at 8 o’ clock in Glasgow’s George Squareâ€â€.

4. Age, house value, and hair colour. In tabloid land, people are always bafflingly defined by these – let’s face it, pretty irrelevant – characteristics. Nobody knows why. “Shapely blonde Senga McCluskey, 37, told the Daily Sphincter from her £350,000 house yesterday that she would have used the garden hoe as well if she could only have reached it.â€

5. Fatal falls. Nobody ever just falls off a tall building and dies. People always plunge to their deaths. And always from buildings from which the number of storeys is specified – “a 14 storey buildingâ€.

6. People having a good time on the piss are routinely referred to as "revellers". When was the last time anybody said "Aye I'm looking forward to going out on Saturday Night for a right good revel." ?

Edited by Bill Lees
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I’ve had this book for years called “Keep Taking the Tabloids†by Fritz Spiegl. I’m always amused by it, because it’s absolutely true. It’s about how tabloid newspapers have a curious mode of language that is all their own – a mix of archaism and peculiar turns of phrase that just aren’t found anywhere else. Here’s the top six I can remember off the top of my head, but there are more.

1. Heart Attacks.  Nobody who ever has a heart attack just has a heart attack.  Oh no. In tabloid land, no heart attack is ever any less than massive.

2. Binoculars.  Not a single pair of ordinary binoculars is to be had in tabloid land.  Any binoculars used are never less than powerful.

3. The geographical possessive.  Only in tabloid land is this used.  As in “The woman was in the habit of walking along Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Streetâ€.  Nobody ever  talks like this in real life – “Aye awright Shug, I’ll see you at 8 o’ clock in Glasgow’s George Squareâ€â€.

4.  Age, house value, and hair colour. In tabloid land, people are always bafflingly defined by these – let’s face it, pretty irrelevant – characteristics.  Nobody knows why.  “Shapely blonde Senga McCluskey, 37,  told the Daily Sphincter from her £350,000 house yesterday that she would have used the garden hoe as well if she could only have reached it.†  

5. Fatal falls.  Nobody ever just falls off a tall building and dies.  People always plunge to their deaths. And always from buildings from which the number of storeys is specified – “a 14 storey buildingâ€.   

6. People having a good time on the piss are routinely referred to as "revellers". When was the last time anybody said "Aye I'm looking forward to going out on Saturday Night for a right good revel." ?

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I HATE Revels. Especially the coffee ones :angry:

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I particularly hate the sporting ones:-

1. A spokesman for the club said...or an undisclosed source said.In other words...we just made that bit up! :angry: (Gordon Waddell)

2.Peoples final.....anyone who ever gets to a Final(Bar the OF)...it's always referred to as the peoples final.Loosley speaking the OF are people too but ye never hear it called that when they get to a final.

Other cliched phrases that get on my tits:-

Relegation Dogfight(feck all dogs involved)

Whenever WE win something the Headline is always something like "Good Buddies"..."Saints go marching in"....something original PLEASE!

so and so is "linked" with another club.....in other words we have no idea either but it fills copy...so we'll stick it in anyway.

I could go on........

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2.Peoples final.....anyone who ever gets to a Final(Bar the OF)...it's always referred to as the peoples final.Loosley  speaking the OF are people too but ye never hear it called that when they get to a final.

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I remember Jim McLean talking about the '87 Cup Final and the interviewer saying that it was the "people's final" as the OF weren't going to be there. The bold Jin replied - and this is a direct quote - "that's right, there'll be no religious bigotry". :lol:

so and so is "linked" with another club.....in other words we have no idea  either but it fills copy...so we'll stick it in anyway.

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That's an annoying one. The amount of times they come out with spurious shíte saying a team (normally the OF) are interested in a player. Then at long last when someone is signed they trot out the headline "We told you first". Conveniently overlooking the fact that by the law of averages they'd get ONE right eventually.

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The PDE is always good for some belters. A random sampling from today's...

Row over £2.5m plan to knock down high flats. Yep, the PDE is always good for a row or two...

Grafitti protest is slammed by all sides. Lot of slamming seems to go on too...

Hmmm. Bit disappointing today. No bungling Council officials or mindless vandals. :( But I'm sure they'll be back tomorrow :)

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I remember Jim McLean talking about the '87 Cup Final and the interviewer saying that it was the "people's final" as the OF weren't going to be there. The bold Jin replied - and this is a direct quote - "that's right, there'll be no religious bigotry".  :lol:

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My abiding memory of Jim McLean was his last act as Chairman of Dundee Utd when he chinned the reporter John Barnes and SKY captured the moment. Perhaps we should "hire" him to take on Mr Waddell. :lol:

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The PDE is always good for some belters. A random sampling from today's...

Row over £2.5m plan to knock down high flats. Yep, the PDE is always good for a row or two...

Grafitti protest is slammed by all sides. Lot of slamming seems to go on too...

Hmmm. Bit disappointing today. No bungling Council officials or mindless vandals. :( But I'm sure they'll be back tomorrow :)

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The other one is the use of the word "over" to mean "because of" or "in connection with" This in conjunction with routine the use of the verb "to hold" to mean "keep in custody", can result in some strange headlines :

"Man held over hot coals". :(

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The use of the word 'romp' to describe any shagging scenario is another one that only appears in newspapers.

e.g for Angus Deayton:

TV Deayton's Drug Fueled Romp

Of course,it had to be prefixed with 'TV' to give any stragglers in their readership an extra clue about who the headline is referring to.

Also,in the Celebrity Big Brother coverage I notice references to,'Gay Barrymore,53,...',but no,'heterosexual Rodman,44,..'

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1. The insistence of using the word cops instead of police and prefixing it with the type of "cops" they are. "Murder cops", "Traffic cops", "Drug cops" etc. Never heard anyone saying "murder cops" outside the tabloids.

2. A favourite of the PDE when quoting a national paper is to describe them as an "English based down-market tabloid" to mock the fact they are owned down south. Forgetting of course that the PDE is a down-market Paisley tabloid that isn't owned by a Paisley based company!!

3. "Tracey, who has an HND degree......" in an attempt to prove she isn't stupid but ignoring the fact the HND is in nail painting!

4. Use of the word "FURY" which nobody says in everyday life. "FURY AT COUCIL PLANS FOR WHEELIE BINS" when folk were actually just a wee bit annoyed.

5. Calling nurses "angels" at every possible moment and never accepting that a nurse can do anything wrong or ever not devote 100% of her life to the care of others. And make sure the word "just" is put in before her salary no matter what it is eg "staff nurse Helen, who earns just £25,000"!!

6. The classic photo of old lady trying to look as miserable, but angry, as possible holding up a letter to her dead husband for a council tax payment he missed. Or a pic of a family so traumatised by a terrible event that they feel they have to have their faces splashed over the papers while telling "their story"

7. The mother of the local thug/drug dealer claiming that he was a lovely lad and never did anything wrong and she didn't know what he did to deserve whatever he got.

8. Picture of murder victim or child who dies young must be accompanied by transcript of poem written by a young relative saying that they are "with the angels now" or something similar.

9. People being decribed as "weeping openly". Nobody ever says they are weeping let alone weeping openly except in tabloid land.

That's enough for now.

Edited by Thorizaar
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Also,in the Celebrity Big Brother coverage I notice references to,'Gay Barrymore,53,...',but no,'heterosexual Rodman,44,..'

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Is/was Rodman no a bi-? Or trans- or ... something... not totally hetero-.

I don't read enough sex-fuelled romp-laden tabloids to really know but something about Rodman recalls that...

...so mibbe the papers were being accurate?

Naw. That's just silly. Sorry. B)

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9. People being decribed as "weeping openly". Nobody ever says they are weeping let alone weeping openly except in tabloid land.

That's enough for now.

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Yup, itsa good 'un. The other one is "ashen-faced". Has anybody ever said "Mah goad Reidy, you're lookin' gey ashen-faced the day." :huh:

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It's because they teach the Journos to write a lot of pish, if it sounds good then it is good

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But Hollz, the point is that tabloid cliches don't sound good - they sound feckin weird at best and like another language altogether at worst. Do you ever touch on matters of style in your media studies course ?

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But Hollz, the point is that tabloid cliches don't sound good - they sound feckin weird at best and like another language altogether at worst.  Do you ever touch on matters of style in your media studies course ?

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Not really, as long as you include who who, what, where, why & how - the rest is really up to you.

If it sounds good, then write it.

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This is a true story. There is a well know journalist who writes for one of the tabloids goes out with my mates auntie. This journo was suppose to be covering a Saints home game but ended up missing the game due to the fact he was pissed as a fart. He ended up phoneing my mate for details of the match :blink: I often wondered about match reports when i have said to myself. Was i at the same match as this guy.

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Not really, as long as you include who who, what, where, why & how - the rest is really up to you.

If it sounds good, then write it.

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"Who who" ???? Gawd help us. No wonder we get the tabloid journos we deserve if that's the standard of the professional training on offer. What sounds good, then, Hollz ?

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Is/was Rodman no a  bi-?  Or trans-  or ...   something... not totally hetero-.

I don't read enough sex-fuelled romp-laden tabloids to really know but something about Rodman recalls that...

...so mibbe the papers were being accurate?

Naw. That's just silly.  Sorry. B)

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Yeah i seem to remember something in the gutter press a while back - something picked up from Rueters ( NOT!!!) about Den running around in dresses with other men or something. :lol:

Edited by ped
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Is/was Rodman no a  bi-?  Or trans-  or ...  something... not totally hetero-.

I don't read enough sex-fuelled romp-laden tabloids to really know but something about Rodman recalls that...

...so mibbe the papers were being accurate?

Naw. That's just silly.  Sorry. B)

230105[/snapback]

Yes,I guess Rodman wasn't the best example to use. :D

I only used him because I happened to know his age.

I don't know if he actually is a starfish trooper. I thought he just liked a bit of ambiguity,and you can usually guarantee that by turning up for the launch of your autobiography in womens' clothes.

Another tabloid thing is using the word 'gate' to indicate a scandal.

If it's derived from 'Watergate' then there's no logic to it bercause Watergate should then have been 'Watergate gate'. :huh:

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