Literary Tabloid!

You have now read A Modest Proposal (AMP) by Jonathan Swift and seen Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

In this task we pretend that these two texts have enfolded in real life.

You work at a tabloid and decide to write the tabloid sensation news piece about the events depicted in the play, or essay. More examples here.


  1. Create a dramatic and interesting headline
  2. Explain the most important (dramatic) thing that happened. Go for the shock!


You can also choose to make a tabloid on some event in Shakespeare’s life, Sonnet 55 or any story by Shakespeare.

Romeo and Juliet Summary

An age-old vendetta between two powerful families erupts into bloodshed. A group of masked Montagues risk further conflict by gatecrashing a Capulet party. A young lovesick Romeo Montague falls instantly in love with Juliet Capulet, who is due to marry her father’s choice, the County Paris. With the help of Juliet’s nurse, the women arrange for the couple to marry the next day, but Romeo’s attempt to halt a street fight leads to the death of Juliet’s own cousin, Tybalt, for which Romeo is banished. In a desperate attempt to be reunited with Romeo, Juliet follows the Friar’s plot and fakes her own death. The message fails to reach Romeo, and believing Juliet dead, he takes his life in her tomb. Juliet wakes to find Romeo’s corpse beside her and kills herself. The grieving family agree to end their feud.

A Modest Proposal Summary

This essay, written by Jonathan Swift in 1729, is a satire in which he outlines suggestions for helping the poor people of Ireland in ridiculous ways. Although the problem he describes is real, he chooses to deal with it in a mocking manner because the government is not taking the poverty issue seriously or doing anything to relieve the problem. He hoped that this essay would grab their attention.

He begins by honestly explaining the problem that Irish families are facing. Parents are unable to feed their children. Mothers have to beg or sell themselves in order to provide for their families. He explains that they need to find a fair, inexpensive, and quick way to assist these people who are lacking basic necessities.

Since children are basically nourished through their mother’s milk for the first year of their lives, he has a suggestion for what they should do with infants once they reach the end of their first year of life. He lists some approximate numbers of people in Ireland leading to the conclusion that approximately 120,000 children are born there each year. Therefore, they need to find something to do with this vast amount of children who are too young to work or provide anything to their families.

He claims that he knows an American who assured him that children make delicious meat when served in stews or other tasty dishes. Therefore, he suggests that they keep around 20,000 children for breeding purposes, and the remaining 100,000 be sold to people of high quality for food. Infant flesh would always be in season, moreso around Lent because people tend to procreate more in the nine months after the end of their time of abstinence has ended. He suggests the skin of these children could be sold separately to be made into such things as gloves or boots.

He realizes there will be objections to this practice, relating to the cruelty or the fact that it doesn’t help the hungry teenagers or the feeble elderly who already are wasting away in Ireland. He believes many of them will die off soon, and no longer be of concern. He wishes to focus on the advantages of his solution rather than fixate on the minor problems with it.

First, it will lessen the number of Papists in their country as they are the principal breeders. Second, it will give the poor something of value, which they may sell to pay their bills. Third, it will provide a product which the countrymen can produce themselves. Fourth, it will relieve the burden of the parents for having to care for these children after their first year. Fifth, it will bring new culinary delights to their restaurants. Sixth, pregnant mothers would become revered and prized by their husbands.

He admits that it will result in a decrease in the number of inhabitants of Ireland, but he believes this practice will unite the people that remain due to the improved conditions and pride they take in the improvement of their nation. He asks that if anyone have a better suggestion for solving the poverty problem that they come forward and let it be known.

He sums up by saying he has no personal stock in enacting this system as he has no young children, and his wife is past childbearing age.

What is a Tabloid?

Tabloid Headlines
The best-known tabloid headline in journalism history used alliteration to play with words in reporting a murder: ”Headless Body in Topless Bar.” If you can think of a clever, in-your-face way to use alliteration, or rhyme in your headline, all the better; generally, keep it short, punchy, witty and breezy. Tabloid headlines can take liberties that traditional journalism wouldn’t touch. Consider the Daily News headline after a speech by president Gerald R. Ford: ”FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” The president did not use those exact words, but [even the staid New York Times allows] ( that the headline captured ”arguably the essence of his remarks.”

Tabloid Style
In traditional journalism, the police arrested a criminal. In a tabloid story of the same event, the cops busted a thug. Tabloid stories are written in a conversational, informal style, using simple, vivid everyday language. ”Straight” news writers strive for an objective tone; in a tabloid story, the writer’s use of adjectives, wordplay and personalized detail often leave the reader with little doubt about his feelings. The goal of tabloid style is to make the reader feel, whether disgusted, elated, outraged or amused.

Tabloid Story Structure
A good tabloid lead sentence summarizes the story right up front in a way that’s designed to maximize shock value. Pull the reader in and don’t let go; sentences and paragraphs are typically short and to the point. Rather than the common inverted pyramid structure of a standard news story, in which the less important information is often in the concluding paragraphs, a tabloid story should circle around and restate the essence of the lead, often adding one more telling or ironic detail for a dramatic grand finale.

En tanke på “Literary Tabloid!”

  1. A war between rivals made 2 teenagers kill themselves!

    There was this war between 2 families and it wreaked of havoc, the family’s last names were Montague and Capulet. The fights have been going on for a long time, and while the families fought 2 teenagers were in love with each other, the girl Juliet Capulet and the boy Romeo Montague. They loved each other so much that they wanted to marry one another, but that didn’t really go to planed. Romeo got into a fight with Juliet cousin and that ended with one of Romeo’s friend being dead and Juliet’s cousin being dead. Romeo later got banished, so he couldn’t be with Juliet anymore, that made Juliet sad, so she asked the Friar what to do. He came up with that she should fake her death and then send a message to Romeo that she’s faked her death, but Romeo got the message another way, that she was dead for real. He was devastated and divided to get some drugs that would kill him straight away. He went to her grave and saw her lying in a casket “dead”, he went to lay next to her and he took his drugs. When he died Juliet woke up, she saw his corpse next to her and was as devastated as Romeo when he found her. She wanted to take the drugs as well, but the tube was empty, so instead she shot herself with a gun.

    They both lied down in the casket, dead by the love that was too risky.



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