Could Foxes Give Pensioners Cancer?
The other day Miss Mussel had occasion to read the Toronto Sun, a redtop tabloid. After thumbing through pages of alarmist headlines, thoughtless opinion pieces and adverts for discount flat screen televisions, she was at a loss to remember even a line or two of thoughtful commentary or contextualized statistics.
The redtops are cousins to the great British tabloids like the Daily Mail, The Sun and The Mirror, who spin the news in a similar panicked vein. This is not to say that the broadsheets don’t have biases of their own but Miss Mussel rarely has the urge to yell ‘Calm the fuck down’ after reading The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star or their British counterparts. [Times, Telegraph, Guardian (most of the time)]
A fun game is to go the newsstand on a day that something of national importance has happened and see how the headlines describe the event. The tabloids go-to tropes are ’causes cancer,’ ‘is ripping you off’ and some variation of moral panic.
For further enjoyment, there’s the Daily Mail Automatic Headline Generator, which was used to generate this post’s headline (COULD THEY?) and The (New) Daily Mail Oncological Ontology Project that keeps track of what will and won’t give you cancer. Helpful considering 6 months later the paper will often give opposite advice.