Fact and Feeling: The Province as a Tabloid

Some people will say it’s nothing more than a simple matter of semantics, but I feel that connotation can go a very long way in how a company or brand is perceived by the product. Your choice of words can really determine whether you’ll be a major success or an epic failure.

The reason why I bring this up is that I was surfing my way through the Twittersphere one afternoon and I came across the account for the Province newspaper here in Vancouver. I’ve been reading the Province for a number of years and I recognize that it has a (relatively) lower reading level than the Vancouver Sun, National Post, or Globe and Mail.

In the bio section for the Twitter account, the Province proudly proclaims that it is a tabloid. I asked the person responsible for maintaining the Twitter account about this choice of words and he (or she) said that the newspaper is proud of its tabloid background.

Perhaps I’m alone in this regard, but I don’t have the most favorable of impressions when I hear the word “tabloid.” I think of rag mags on the grocery store shelf. I think of “newspapers” like the National Enquirer. They’re filled with gossip, hearsay, and conjecture, rather than with legitimate investigative journalism and researched opinion.

I’m not saying that they don’t have a place in this society — I actually like the “trash” posted by places like TMZ — but the “tabloid” name comes with some of that unfavorable baggage. I told the Province Twitter user that I thought their paper was more “high brow” than the National Enquirer and they probably shouldn’t use the word “tabloid” in the bio.

He or she agreed that the Province is “a little” higher brow, but they stuck to the traditioin of calling their newspaper a tabloid. I’m not in the newspaper business nor am I too knowledgeable about the publishing industry, but “tabloids” sound (to me) like they’re close to the bottom rung of news reporting.

What do you think? Does word choice (“tabloid” in this case) affect how you feel about a company? Or do you immediately look beyond those first impressions to seek true substance?