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The Times to "dumb down" tabloid edition, add page 3 girl
27 Nov 2003 by Malcolm Drury
Reaction to the newly-launched tabloid edition of The Times, one of the UK's most venerable newspapers, has been much less enthusiastic than expected. As a result, the publisher is to take further steps to "tabloidise" the paper to make it more competitive with The Sun, The Mirror and the other popular British tabloids, DeadBrain has learned.
Douglas Ramsbottom, a spokesman for The Times, told our reporter that the move was intended to broaden the readership of the newspaper and expose a larger percentage of the population to its reputation for fair, accurate reporting and balanced analysis. "Definitely not just for increasing circulation to bring in more revenue," he said, "that's not it at all."
Mr Ramsbottom outlined some of the planned additional differences between the two editions.
"For the tabloid edition, most news stories, and their headlines, will be shortened, and reworded to use fewer syllables per word," he said, "but without losing the gist and the analysis. We will be taking great pains to ensure that the traditional Times values and ethics are not compromised in any way."
Asked how the rewording might work, he said: "Well, for example, a hypothetical story about a high ranking police officer accused of accepting bribes might have the headline 'Senior policeman in bribe allegation' in the broadsheet edition, and 'Top cop in cash back scam' in the tabloid."
The world-renowned Times crossword will appear in the tabloid, he continued, but the clues will be different. In the broadsheet edition, for example, the clue for the word boob might be "Body odour meets itself coming back, fool", whereas in the tabloid edition it would become something along the lines of "Female appendage that it's nice to cop a handful of."
"And we'll be adding a page three girl," he added, "but it will be tasteful, and drawn from a broad spectrum of personalities well known to Times readers. For the first one, we're trying to get Dame Judi Dench to pose in a one-piece swimsuit."
"Finally," he said, "there will be a lot more sports coverage in the tabloid, which will add stories about, for example, the World Nude Snooker Championships, with photos, of course, that will not appear in the broadsheet."
Note to Readers
DeadBrain's Editor-in-Chief, Gregory T Mullet, wishes to make it clear that he has no intention of launching a dumbed-down version of the popular news satire site. "We know that our readers are highly intelligent, articulate, erudite people of refined taste who appreciate our high professional standards and do not require it to undergo any dumbing down," he said, before leading a focus group across the road to the "Cock and Bull" to watch a wet T-shirt contest and enjoy a swift half dozen pints.