PhD Students

Mr James Alan Anslow

Emailjaansl@essex.ac.uk
Thesis titleThe tabloid Trickster: a post-Jungian evaluation of early 21st century popular British newspaper journalism characterised by that of The Sun
Abstract

At the beginning of the 21st century, British tabloid newspapers, whose circulations were already in steep decline, faced twin existential challenges: a growing tendency by consumers to access free information and entertainment content from the internet, and demands for more stringent regulation of ‘print’ journalists, particularly those employed by, or servicing, ‘tabloid’ titles. The latter challenge was characterised in 2012 by the report of the Leveson Inquiry (Part 1) into the culture, practice and ethics of the press, ordered by the UK government as ‘phonehacking’ revelations triggered the closure of the tabloid News of the World, then one of the most read English language newspapers in any country, and led to a string of high-profile court cases, one of which culminated in the conviction and imprisonment of the title’s former editor Andy Coulson. For decades, influential media theorists had condemned many aspects of British popular newspaper journalism, a critique fuelled by the Leveson Inquiry and associated criminal investigations. Some analysts argued that Britain would be psychosocially healthier if newspapers such as the News of the World’s sister publication, The Sun, either ceased to exist or were radically revised. However, this work uniquely explores the proposition that British tabloid journalism is driven archetypally by what Carl Jung identified as Trickster, a collective shadow reflecting an ambiguous but necessary principle portrayed in myths, folklore, literature and contemporary media as a disruptive, lascivious, liminoid troublemaker. This thesis investigates and amplifies earlier explorations of Trickster – notably, but not exclusively, by post-Jungian thinkers – and applies its conclusions to a depth-psychological assessment of contemporaneous popular British newspaper journalism. By revealing the archetype behind the tabloid stereotype, it examines a suggestion that UK statutory press regulation would ‘castrate’ the tabloid Trickster, rendering it unable to perform its psychosocial function, to the detriment of a society already challenged by a fragmenting post-modern media landscape.

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