3.1 “Tabloidistic” linguistics
Those are just some examples of how the British tabloid the Sun uses nicknames to refer to the celebrities it writes about. According to what Cooper claims, in the digital world the tabloids might be forced to rethink this strategy:
“Fans fury at Amy wino” (refers to Amy Winehouse)
“Macca and Mucca do battle” (refers to Paul McCartney and Heather Mills)
Using nicknames when referring to real people was perfectly fine back in the day when newspapers had only print versions. With pictures of celebrities used as illustrations, the editors could be certain that their audience would not be too confused by a name’s abbreviation.
Did the shift to the online world have an influence on how newspapers need to start thinking about their phrasing? Have we entered an era of search engines’ terror over journalists’ freedom of expression? Once a newspaper goes online, does the editor need to face a dilemma: “Should we remain consistent in our phrasing or should we adapt to the search engines’ requirements?”
When most people search for information about Paul McCartney, they type in his name in Google, Yahoo!, Altavista or any other search engine – very few choose to look for the abbreviation. This (possibly) gives an edge to broadsheets over tabloids, as they usually use the legal names instead of nicknames when referring to people. Compare the examples:
Source: The Sun
The difference in the writing style of TimesOnline and The Sun is quite striking. Guess which article has more chances of appearing on top of the search results, if Cooper’s argumentation is to be taken as the basis of judgement.