Linguistic aspects of tabloidization
The paper discusses the dual nature of tabloidization, conceived not as a mere imitation of tabloids but as a process which consists in adjustment to the expectations of the reader, a process in which the crucial value is that of good reception and effectiveness (profitability) as its measurable effect. Thus, tabloidization does not only concern tabloids as such but is present in the transformations of the media as a whole, the transformations being an aspect of a larger process of the transformation of contemporary culture. Secondly, there are two dimensions of tabloidization: tabloidization of content (i.e. the selection of certain themes and topics only because they are interesting to the general public) and tabloidization of transfer (a change in the format of the newspapers and magazines, the increased importance of non-verbal coding, a higher frequency of occurrence of specific linguistic means). As an example, the paper analyzes a series of articles from a non-tabloid daily “Gazeta Wyborcza”, titled Brat Karol. Siostra Wanda, which appeared in June 2009 (as well as an introductory advertisement and an introductory article). The analysis reveals the process of tabloidization of transfer (more exactly of language), but also the tabloidization of content. The tabloidization of language is manifested through the use of linguistic means such that they result in an augmentation and increased directness of the reading, as well as in an easier reception of the text. Tabloidization is also manifested through an apparent flouting of conversational maxims and a loose treatment of the principle of cooperation, which leads to the creation of a communicative message containing a simplified and biased worldview. Being familiar and easily understandable, the worldview is attractive to the reader. In this way, reality is mythologized. The reader receives a text which does not only relate to the difficult relationship between Karol Wojtyła (as bishop and pope) and Wanda Półtawska. The text is also about a relationship between a man and a woman. The attractiveness of the publication does not result from it being yet another text about John Paul II, a national hero, but from the new roles assigned to the protagonists (Wanda’s role is that of a woman, Karol’s is that of a man). The acceptance of the roles leads to a direct and intense reception of the message, as well as to the emergence of author–reader kind of community. In effect, the text is an instance of the tabloidization of content, where the content is not provided in a straightforward manner but through tabloidization of transfer.