This study set out to understand the role of tabloid news content in establishing public news trust in Zambia. The study compared tabloid news stories (usually frowned upon as unprofessional by most African journalists and scholars) to professional news writing styles, which are rooted in Western journalism education. Drawing from studies that critique tabloid journalism as consumed by people lacking critical abilities to analyze professional news content, the study predicted that: (1) the consumption of tabloid news was not positively correlated to the lack of education/ability to critically analyze ‘professional’ news content; (2) individuals exposed to only professional news content in form of hard news will indicate lower levels of trust for the media if compared to those exposed to tabloid news content; (3) tabloid news will serve as a moderating factor between media trust and mistrust. This theoretical model was tested with quasi-experiments and surveys using data collected from over 319 participants from online media platforms belonging to selected media outlets in Zambia. The results supported the proposed model on the role of tabloid news content and public trust. Additional analyses suggested that there was no positive correlation between the consumption of tabloid news and education; therefore, debunking the idea that critical analysis of news content in Zambia resided among the educated individuals.
Key words: Tabloid, sensational news, professional journalism, newsworthiness, media trust, zambia daily mail, Mwebantu Media, Zambia Watchdog, Zambia Media Landscape.
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