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Guilty Pleasures - Tabloids 

by Sheri Boggs

For someone who works at a newspaper -- where you've gotta think about things like journalistic integrity, professional objectivity and truth in print -- there's something secretly compelling about tabloids. It could be the cluttered, seizure-inducing layouts, the unflattering photos of celebs or maybe just the cheeky disregard for anything resembling the truth.

It could also be a bit of nostalgia -- my grandmother used to read tabloids religiously, and there were always little stacks of them up at their mobile home at Lake Pend Oreille. In fact, my grandmother still believes anything she reads in a tabloid, and if you try to tell her most of that stuff is made up, she'll fix you with one of her Arkansas voodoo looks and say something like "they wouldn't print it if it wasn't true."

In the case of The National Enquirer and The Star, Grandma might actually be right. Both have been hit with enough celebrity lawsuits to be a little more careful about who they slander these days. But those crazy kids over at the Weekly World News? They're not even trying to tell the truth. The Weekly World News is where you'll find everything you ever wanted to know about 300-pound housecats, warning signs of the apocalypse, alien roadkill in Roswell and, of course, Bat Boy. Ironically, they're also the tabloid that seems to be most concerned with "the news," with such politically themed fodder as this week's cover story "Saddam Feeds Christians to Lions!" and columnist Ed Anger, who would be funny except I think a lot of his readers actually take his diatribes to heart.

But it's a small quibble when the rest of the issue includes such stellar science reporting as "Bananas will be extinct in 10 years, says expert!" (accompanied by a grumpy gorilla pic) and "Scientists create a talking pig -- now the porker begs 'LET ME OUT!' " As far as I'm concerned, The Enquirer and The Star can keep their stories on Whitney's cocaine problem, Rosie's collapse, Nicole and Tom's nasty divorce and Oprah's latest nuptial rumors. I'll take the "Hunter mistakes angel for duck" and "Crop circle mystery solved; scientists discover messages are like Post-it Notes for aliens!" of The Weekly World News.

Publication date: 02/20/03

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