An open letter to the Tab

discusses what the Tab has become

I don’t read the Tab for two central reasons. Firstly, the strong student media presence at York (arguable the best in the country) meant that there was never a fresh audience for them to try and tackle. Secondly, the majority of what it does publish in my opinion, is poorly written and in even poorer taste.

Seven minutes of browsing their site was all it took for me to come close to having a major aneurism. It started with gym leggings.

Fair enough, I hear you say. Maybe, like me, you appreciate a woman in leggings. The author certainly did, as he wrote an open letter to the ladies of his university thanking them for their attire in lectures and around campus. Despite it not being in the format of a letter at all.

It’s a fair observation and it’s something that I’ve started to see more and more of; ladies in gym leggings and a hoodie that shows the sports team they’re a part of. They’re more colloquially known as York Sport wankers (although this might just be my colloquialism, probably because I’m bitter about not being good at sport – which is why I write about it and don’t partake in any, but I digress).

If someone was to approach any section of this newspaper, or if anyone approached my section asking to write a 500-word comment article on a minute observation, I’d throw the metaphorical book at them.

What was most comical about this vain attempt at misogynistic humour was that it openly set out not to be that in the opening paragraph. The author is quick to note that “a combination of the sexualisation of the media and a torrent of pop-culture-driven sartorial paradigm shifts have altered society’s perspective on how we should dress”. However, by noting that women on Exeter’s campus are all dressing the same and then by sexualising them with some semi-pervy images of a lady in gym leggings, he did exactly what he openly set out not to do. He was then keen to add that the “common bloke’s” that he spoke to on campus (probably his fellow creepy housemates) said it gave them something to look at, which brilliantly objectified the females on campus within a media context. Overall, crass Tab misogynism has been expertly achieved inadvertently.

From one rant and onto the next: the Tab’s top commented article at current. Surprisingly popular on Facebook but as equally unpopular everywhere else. It’s just another one of those dreary articles based on all the stereotypes we know about a girl’s night out, with the article (which was apparently a ‘feature’) being nothing more than a shoddy ethnographic study of a guy watching girls drink. Of course, all the far left feminists came out in force for an objectifying article based on gender stereotypes. That’s an easy claim to make that we see all across media culture, but that wasn’t my main issue with the article.

What confused me most about it was how it managed to get published in the first place. Although a lot of readers got the ‘jokes’ and found it relatable (because they were part of this ‘stereotype’), it was just a string of predictable claims that nearly all students knew because they already knew the jokes behind the stereotype. The whole thing lacked originality, but because all the crap jokes about a girl’s night were compiled into one, handy ‘feature’ article, it found some popularity. Although most of the comments that praised the article included “xD lol” somewhere in them. Need I say more?

Not only that, but the grammar and the level of sub-editing were truly woeful. And that’s not just me internally debating whether ‘cockblocked’ should be hyphenated, I’m talking about basic sentence structure. Surely it wasn’t just me who was completely underwhelmed by the whole thing as a piece of journalism.

The Tab is clearly lacking any direction or organisation in producing decent university tabloid journalism. It’s moved a long way from its true purpose of providing light-hearted student-focused news stories, insightful student stories, and relatable, original and well-written pieces that students really want to read. There are some good pieces on their site in places, but they’re few and far between and seem to be wasted by being submitted to such a dreary, lad-driven organisation. You may as well be reading the Lad Bible.

They then decided to top themselves off by pissing off an editor of the only other student tabloid publication that seemed to be good at being a tabloid (if only marginally) by using their 49 Twitter accounts to gang up on York Vision Editor and renowned campus feminist Helena Horton. She called them out on their stereotypes, as she was quite entitled to do so, and they reacted through mass intimidation and unprofessional responses from their Editor-in-chief (I was more shocked by the revelation that they have one).

But the last laugh is now on them: not only has Helena gained 49 Twitter followers for nothing, but she also writes for the Guardian. Her next article in the national press will certainly be interesting.

So there we have it; an open letter to the Tab – which is satirically in their style of an open letter which, to them, is simply just a comment piece written on a public website – written as I lose my patience with them and leave them with a clear underlying message for them to mull over: fix up or fuck off.


  1. I agree wholeheartedly. The Tab is shit and we have a fine media culture here without pointless reassertion and reification of orthodox “uni life” fuckbollocks

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  2. Helena Horton doesnt write for the guardian. Yea the tab is shit, but dont give that Femi-Nazi any more publicity than she needs. she cant write well, is a walking paradox of a feminist, and is well just seriously annoying. She is no better than a virus. Other than that quality writing by Thomas Fennelly as per usual!

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    • Weird that the author felt the need to label the feminist response to that disgusting Tab article as “far left”. And I’m not sure that a critique of the Tab’s journalistic quality should really be the bigger issue compared to the fact that the articles in question are misogynistic. If they wrote an excellent, Nouse-worthy piece containing the same ideas, hopefully it’d still get the same amount of righteous bollocking.

      And even if the paper wasn’t shite in all the ways mentioned in this article, the fact that it’s a for-profit enterprise exploiting the unpaid labour of students really should be enough of a reason to run it out of York.

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  3. 17 Apr ’14 at 12:18 pm

    Athletico Kebab


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  4. ladbible is quality

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  5. 17 Apr ’14 at 1:46 pm

    Isidore of Seville

    Nouse and Vision setting aside their differences and teaming up to take on the country’s shittiest student media brand? Sounds like the plot for a summer blockbuster. I heartily approve.

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  6. Do I sense a hint of bitterness here? The lady doth protest too much, methinks…

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  7. “but the grammar and the level of sub-editing were truly woeful”.

    “the majority of what it does publish in my opinion, is poorly written and in even poorer taste.” –> awkward structure, “… what it does publish is, in my opinion, …” is much better.

    “If someone was to approach” –> “if someone WERE to approach”

    “we know about a girl’s night out” –> though this is technically correct, I think you meant to write “a girls’ night out”.

    “more of; ladies in gym leggings” –> “more of: …”.

    And so on and so forth. Fix your own writing before being concerned with that of others.

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