My story is set in the near past, right before internet become widespread 80's to 90s. The paranoid regime strictly controls the press, and any journalist without license is trialed and executed by a kangaroo court. Unlicensed journalists and foreign press are considered an enemy of the state.
Is it realistic under such circumstances that regime will allow tabloids, who could sneak up real stories now and then as long as they are sensationalized and distorted to a large and extent and buried with news about psychics, extraterrestrials, lizard people and other conspiracy theories?
The idea is for the journalists to use it as backdoor to air grievances with the ruling officials, but most of the population to be skeptical of whatever is posted. It also allows the regime to test the water on questionable policies, cutting bread subsidies, officials corruption, or polluting the air by burning medical waste from foreign countries.
Also unpleasant news about the junta leader could be confused by such "reporting". If there was a danger of foreign media leaking a tape of dear leader with prostitutes, the tabloids would first leak several fake ones, so afterwards nobody would know what is true and what is fake.
Something similar like Russians are doing now, with RT & Sputnik, but primarily for domestic consumption.
My plot is about struggle to stay in business, since the state doesn't pay the tabloids. On one hand they must print whatever public wants in order to get readers and advertisers, on the other hand publicly saying that mayor Jon is stealing money from maternity ward to build his mistress a villa would get themselves killed. So they must somehow obfuscate the story. Though central government doesn't like local officials stealing, at least no more then what is customary, they absolutely hate riots and challenge to its rule.