August 19, 2009 8:15 AM   Subscribe

How would this tabloid technique be called in Fleet Street?

Suppose something of considerable impact happens to a celebrity. Tabloids jump in the fray, trying to get quotes from everybody involved. They manage to get interviews with everybody involved, but celebrity won't budge and plays hide and seek. Without a reaction from the celebrity, the story can't get closure.

Tabloids react by grossly misrepresenting facts about celebrity to force a reaction, playing both sides of the game. Lettering "SHOCKING STUFF ABOUT CELEB X" on the front page and at the same time leaving him/her messages, urging him/her to "get your side of the story out and set all the lies straight".

Please don't give me "best guesses". I'm actually trying to get the trade name/slang for this type of behavior.

If you have a somewhat objective list of all the sleazy techniques that the tabloids use in order to get stories, please share.
posted by OctopusRex to Writing & Language (3 answers total)
I've never heard of one single accepted "inside-journalism" term for this, and I think I would have done if there was one. As for other sleazy techniques:

- explaining that the story is going to go ahead anyway, and that it would be a pity if their voice wasn't heard. (This is the one-story version of the technique you mention and is safer in terms of libel, because it involves offering right of reply from the start, which is increasingly influential in libel rulings.)
- getting the families of dead people to talk by explaining that you want to publish a "tribute" to their relative
- paying lots of money
- spiriting your interviewees away to a fancy country house hotel/spa with a reporter, where they will a) be out of the clutches of rivals and b) eventually come to relate to the drinks-buying reporter as a friend
- warning them of the mendacious behavior of other newspapers, which means they should go to an outlet they can trust
- going through the bins
- dressing up as a sheikh
- tapping phones then paying hush money
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:34 AM on August 19, 2009

pretty much it's yellow journalism and it's been around forever.
posted by msconduct at 10:21 AM on August 19, 2009

Yep, it's yellow journalism. I don't think there's a specific term for the technique you describe, but I've heard similar tactics described as "putting [the subject] under pressure" or "forcing them to go public".
posted by embrangled at 3:54 AM on August 20, 2009

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