The Sun sparked an angry response today following its decision to exploit the tragic death of Reeva Steenkamp in order to titillate its readers with a front-page picture of the model posing in a bikini.
The Sun was surely anticipating the angry response and subsequent Twitter storm. It knows its brand of journalism is offensive to many.
Former News Of The World features editor Jules Stenson wrote on Twitter earlier this week:
"If you want to be [a] successful Sun [editor], do the opposite of what people want you to do on Twitter."
His tweet neatly sums up The Sun's willingness - its need - to offend.
Today's front page was no spur of the moment, hasty mistake by an editor thinking on his feet how best to handle a breaking news story while the printers were holding on the phone. This was The Sun's considered response to a global news story that broke in the early hours of the morning. It was a front page that was more than 12 hours in the planning.
The Sun decided a photo of Steenkamp undoing her bikini top was the best it could do.
The best it should do.
The best its readers should expect of The Sun.
We might be shocked. We might be disgusted. But none of us should be surprised.
The Sun owes its success over the years to stoking the prejudices and feeding the carnal appetites of readers who like their tabloids to be nasty and tacky. The moral ambiguities which result along the way appear to trouble neither the newspaper nor its hardcore of readers.
But a paper like that cannot be run successfully without offending far more people than it attracts.
As Toby Young noted, writing on this issue on The Telegraph website: "This is absolutely par-for-the-course tabloid journalism."
What's more, emboldened by the stuttering demise of Lord Justice Leveson's attempts to rein in tabloid malpractice and responding to uncertain times for the newspaper industry, it's the kind of tabloid journalism we're likely to see much more of, not less.
The Sun's headline circulation figures still look healthy but year-on-year the paper's readership is shrinking considerably. The paper has lost around a million readers over the past five years. The Sun on Sunday has lost the same number in less than a year since it launched.
The demise of the News Of The World, coupled with this decline in print sales, will serve as a daily reminder to all that The Sun's future will now always be uncertain. As such, it seems intent on doing all it can to keep its core readership happy for as long as it can. But if it decides to continue courting only those people who think a dead woman is fair game for front page titillation then bikini photos of crime victims will not be the worst thing The Sun feeds its readers in the coming weeks, months and years. Campaigners hoping for the abolition of Page 3 should probably take note.