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I Watched a Wild Hog Eat My Baby: A Colorful History of Tabloids and Their Cultural Impact Hardcover – March 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This overview comes from a tabloid insider: Sloan (JFK: Breaking the Silence) has been an editor for the National Enquirer and for the tabloid publisher Globe Communications. He thus displays empathy for the publications and their staff, capable journalists who used to divide their days between researching legitimate stories and making up scandalous, juicy ones, such as "JFK Is Alive on Skorpios!" or "109-Year-Old Man Lives in Hollow Log with Pregnant Wife & 6 Kids." Sloan recalls the business genius of former boss Generoso Paul Pope Jr.; with the financial backing of major crime boss Frank Costello, Pope took the struggling National Enquirer in the early 1960s from a mainstream publication to one that celebrated graphic sex and violence. Then, recognizing the potential of marketing to housewives standing in supermarket lines, Pope refashioned his paper again in the late 1960s to one that often highlighted miracle cures and terminally ill children. Later, Pope again saw tremendous new opportunity in exploiting the lives of celebrities, and tabloids flourished at their peak in the 1970s and '80s with a circulation of 12 million. Since the 1990s, Sloan argues, the emergence of sensationalism in mainstream print and nonprint media has caused tabloid circulation to drop off. Although this account is sometimes rambling and unfocused, Sloan does cover the major papers and the players in their heyday. Illus. not seen by PW. (Mar.) Forecast: Prometheus could have a hit with this title, which should appeal to a variety of markets, from students of journalism and cultural studies to tabloid fans to anyone curious about, or titillated by, the how and why of sleaze.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Don't be fooled by the whimsical title. This history of the seamier side of American journalism has been meticulously researched (though, true to tabloid style, Sloan cites few references). For anyone other than a journalism junkie, parts of the narrative may even seem dull. The author, a freelance writer who formerly worked for the National Enquirer, surely knows that for a story to have mass appeal it must report either celebrity misdeeds or bizarre occurrences. Besides Rupert Murdoch, who appears in a minor role, no famous names carry this story. Some of the incidents related, particularly those that preceded the downfall of Allied News Company, have freakish appeal, but the book deals mainly with the editorial and business decisions of relatively obscure men (no women have held key positions in tabloid publishing). Sloan examines the current blurring of the line between mainstream and tabloid journalism; he also discusses the ramifications of this trend and the recent consolidation of tabloid ownership. Recommended for journalism collections and larger public libraries.DSusan M. Colowick, North Olympic Lib. Syst., Port Angeles, WA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 251 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; First Edition edition (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573929026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573929028
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,885,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bob Abborino on March 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"Enquiring Minds" who want the true inside scoop on the supermarket tabloids and the strange people who publish them can find it all in Bill Sloan's "I Watched A Wild Hog Eat My Baby".
There have been perhaps a half dozen books and any number of articles claiming to reveal the inner workings of the tabs. All, however, have been written by writers from the outside looking in, writers with little actual experience at the tabs trying to cash in for a quick buck, or writers with axes to grind - in most instances, all three.
Sloan, however, has prowled the inner sanctums of all the tabs. He has been the editor of the Globe and the National Tattler, top writer with the National Enquirer and close friends of editors, writers and reporters at the Star, Weekly World News, the National Examiner and the Sun. His connection with the tabloids goes back more than 30 years.
What's more, Sloan himself is a writer of national reputation, with dozens of mainstream books and articles, both fiction and non-fiction. As a professional journalist, he was a Pulitzer Prize nominee while an investigative reporter with the Dallas Times Herald.
Despite its rather bizarre title, Sloan's book is the definitive history of the supermarket tabloids over the last 30 years. He does not concentrate on the weird stories the tabs are famous for, but on the people who produced what is, arguably, a major phenomena of American journalism.
The book is briming with anecdotes, first person quotes and insights into the thinking of the sometimes eccentric Gene Pope, the godfather of the supermarket tabs, Mike Rosenblum, his most successful imitator, and Ian Calder, who largely responsible for the tabs' shift to celebrity-hounding after 1975.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Wipff on March 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Unequivocally YES! And that is why you MUST read this book!! After all, who knew that the National Enquirer was originally owned by a Pope? And financed by a Mafia kingpin? Hey, Bill Sloan knows and YOU will too, after reading this book.
If research were gold, this book would be Ft. Knox! There is more research here than you can shake a stick at--but who'd want to? You'll be too busy reading! After all, you simply must know what happened when 95 million tons of oatmeal exploded in Omaha. (It was NOT a pretty site!) Or when a wild hog actually did eat a....but that's going TOO far.
"Well written" is putting it mildly. "Couldn't put it down" is an understatement. "The best bathroom book since Peyton Place" doesn't give it enough credit. "Juicy" is only slightly correct. So what do you do if you own the biggest collection of supermarket tabloids on the planet? BILL SLOAN KNEW!!
If you love those "I SLEPT WITH A SPACE ALIEN AND GOT RICH TELLING ABOUT IT" or "BIGFOOT WAS MY NANNY" kinds of articles, you'll love this book. Heck, you'll love it even if you DON'T like `em because it's so full of interesting stories and characters!!
If you read only one book this'll have a very slow year. But why not make it "I WATCHED A WILD HOG EAT MY BABY"?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Sipos VINE VOICE on October 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This extensively-researched history of American tabloids was released in 2001, the only post-1999 tabloid book so far. That's relevant, because since 1999 all major tabloids (Enquirer, Star, Globe, Examiner, Mira, Sun, Weekly World News) have been under single ownership. Some tabloid critics lament that this has undermined the tabloids' traditional competitiveness, and significantly altered their editorial policies and news coverage.
Anything written about tabs a decade earlier would be woefully out-of-date. As Sloan comments, the 1990s have seen the "tabloidization" of mainstream media. The major media have usurped the tabs' turf, creating what Sloan calls an "identity crisis" among tabloid editors and reporters, who must now compete directly against major media in search of scandalous type celebrity news, whereas in the past the major media shunned such stories.
Sloan analyzes how such 1990s news stories as OJ, the death of Princess Di, and "Bill and Monica" affected news coverage by the tabloids and their mainstream competition.
There are some other good tabloid books, several written by "insiders" like Sloan, but this is the only tabloid history that's up-to-date, and relevant to today and the near future.
Author Bill Sloan was an editor at the Globe and Enquirer, and a Pulitzer-nominated reporter for the Dallas Times-Herald.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Timothy C Cridland on May 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"I Watched a Wild Hog EAT My Baby!!!" by Bill Sloan, reviewed by Tim
I just speed read the new tabloid book published by Prometheus Press. I
checked it out from the LA Public Library and read most of it in one day.
The name of the book is I Watched a Wild Hog EAT My Baby!!! and it is
written by Bill Sloan, who apparently worked for a few of the tabloids in
the 70s.
There a few things that are in this book that I haven't seen elsewhere. One
is a thorough background of Generoso Pope Sr., showing his strong ties to
both the Mafia and support of Mussolini and Fascism.
In case you don't know, Pope Sr. is the father of Gene Pope Jr., founder or
the National Enquirer and inventor of the supermarket tabloid.
Sloan also verifies beyond all doubt that the National Enquirer was started
with money given or loaned by long time Pope family associate and mobster
Frank Costello.
Sloan also verifies that the Mafia influence of the National Enquirer
continued well into the 70s
Sloan doesn't give any new insight into the Pope Jr.'s CIA background. He
also seems to know little of Midnight publisher Joe Azaria's Mafia
connections, other than saying that there were reports that he had casual
contact with the Montreal Mob. In fact, there is an article from the
Montreal Gazette about Azaria where he openly admits his mob connections,
and claims to be working on a book about it. I have this article in my
Sloan gives a huge amount of information about the group of tabloids that
were published in the Chicago area, of which the National Tattler is the
most remembered. Strangely, there were no connections to the Mafia or CIA
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