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Sir Humphrey: "Prime Minister, what about the people who read the Sun?"
National newspapers in the UK were traditionally divided by format, between the relatively respectable and intelligent broadsheets and the scurrilous, gossip- and crime-obsessed tabloids. The latter are generally subdivided into the 'mid-market' tabloids and, at the lower end, those known colloquially as the 'red-tops' after their red-background title logos. Several of the broadsheet newspapers have now adopted tabloid or 'Berliner' physical formats, but the divide in reputation between the two types remains.
The UK press is collectively known as "Fleet Street
", although most of them have now left that particular London locale in favour of Canary Wharf. Circulation figures correct as of January 2013.
For reasons of mental health
, the comments sections
of any British news website
should never be read under any circumstances.
It is also not recommended if you have over-romantic feelings about the state of British politics. There is a perception, generally held by smug Brits and even more widely held by American liberals whose despair with their own system has pushed them into delusions, that British people are somehow less crazy than Americans. This is bullshit. Rather, the US crazies managed to remain within the two main parties of government but kept away from the organs of state, whilst the British crazies were pushed into fringe parties which the British Political System
means can never stand a realistic chance of gaining power. As a result, America's nutcases managed to stay on their platform. A glance through the comment threads on any news website will quickly cure you of the delusion that political fuckwittery, Critical Research Failure
, swivel-eyed xenophobia, and la-la-land acceptance of ridiculous positions are not trans-Atlantic.
Broadsheets (and those with "broadsheet style", despite their Berliner or
tabloid compact format)
The Daily Telegraph - 578,774 copies a day
To escape Jury Duty in England, wear a bowler hat and carry a copy of the
- Known as The Daily Torygraph for its trenchant support of the Conservative Party. Well known for its crossword and sports coverage (especially of cricket). Also had a major scoop when it recently exposed the MPs' expenses scandal, which was quickly picked up by all other newspapers. (More historically, it was the first to report the outbreak of World War II from Poland.) Formerly owned by Conrad Black, currently owned by the Barclay Brothers. Has a traditional reputation for being close to Britain's secret services and being willing to print planted stories for them. Remains firmly wedded to the actual broadsheet format, presumably for fear of overloading the Royal Mail should they ever dare to change anything. One of Britain's two newspapers of record by reputation.
- Also somewhat notorious for its habit of putting 'fruity girls' on the cover at the slightest provocation (most commonly female students celebrating their exam results) and its obsession with Liz Hurley (another nickname is "The Daily Hurleygraph").
- Has a hilariously prissy rivalry with the Guardian (see below).
The Times and the Sunday Times - 397,549 copies a day; 939,395 on Sundays
Three reporters and a gentleman from the Times...
—Popular joke, satirizing the paper's spotless reputation.
- The original Times. One of the UK's oldest newspapers (founded in the 1780s), currently owned by Rupert Murdoch. A neutral-to-conservative-leaning paper which, unlike The Sun, is editorially independent and therefore doesn't necessarily have to toe the Murdoch line. Associated with good reporting, levelheadedness, and almost-aristocratic courtesy (leading to the famous joke about "three reporters and a gentleman from The Times"). Famous for its cryptic crosswords, and also the origin of the ubiquitous Times New Roman typeface. Occasionally referred to abroad as "The London Times" or "The Times of London" to distinguish it from other papers which imitated its name; only the latter is even remotely correct. The UK's other newspaper of record.
- The Sunday Times - sister paper to The Times and also owned by Murdoch, but they were founded independently. Remains in broadsheet format with several supplements, making it a heavyweight in more ways than one. Publishes the famous annual Sunday Times Rich List, a league table of the UK's richest people.
- It made one its biggest goofs and biggest stories together: The Times was the paper that exposed Israel's totally-not-real except that it is nuclear program. They singularly failed, however, to take good care of their whistleblower, the Israeli scientist Mordechai Vanunu, who was lured to Rome by a Honey Trap Mossad agent, kidnapped, and taken back to Israel for 18 years in prison. On one hand, the it was certainly silly of Vanunu to go off alone when he was being hunted by the most efficient intelligence agency in the world, on the other, the Times should at least have taken some precautions. The paper is extremely ashamed of this episode, and tries to make up for it by making a great deal of supportive noise whenever Vanunu is in the press. They have been unusually critical of Israel since this incident.
- Though this criticism has sometimes got it into trouble, such as when it published a cartoon of Binyamin Netanyahu◊ building a wall and using the blood of Palestinians and Israelis as cement. This drew criticism from the Anti-Defamation League for apparently linking him to the anti-semitic blood libel slander spread by Christians in the Middle Ages, though the Israeli newspaper Haaretz disagreed. It didn't help that it was published on Holocaust Memorial Day, though the paper claimed this was an unfortunate coincidence (the Israeli elections had happened in the intervening week).
The Guardian and The Observer - 215,988 copies a day
Statistics indicate that Guardian readers tend to either hole up in community theaters or sit around Starbucks sipping Frappucinos while talking about how big businesses are crushing the lower-classes.
- Formerly The Manchester Guardian. AKA The Grauniad*, General Belgrauniad, or The Prada-Meinhof Newsletter for its (historical reputation for) frequent printing errors and left wing politics. Officially a "centre-left, liberal" newspaper its columnists and readership often veer further left and its letters page can sometimes read like the outpourings of Private Eye's parody Trot, Dave Spart (often to the point where people can't tell if it's a parody or not). Possibly the smuggestnote paper in the entire world, the term "Guardian reader" or "Guardianista" is sometimes used as a derogatory comment on a person's political leanings, similar to the US "latte liberal" or (more to the point) "New York Times liberal". Has gained some notoriety in recent years for its pre-occupation with middle-class navel-gazing "lifestyle" aspirations and London-centric tendencies (ironic for a newspaper which began in the English North-West). When the chips are down, it will support Labour, although in the most recent election it declared for the Liberal Democrats (well, it actually declared for "Liberal Democrat, but Labour if they're the only people who can beat the Tories in your constituency"). Although less widely known than that of the Times, its crossword is arguably better regarded among enthusiasts. One of its journalists was once shot as part of a CIA cover-up of the Treadstone Project. The paper's low circulation is likely due to its commitment to free online news, and the "free democracy of ideas", which cynics call "giving all your content away for nothing so no-one buys the paper", and whilst it is the least bought of the "big three" broadsheets, it has the largest online presence, with the third highest traffic statistics of any British news website (behind the Mail Online and BBC News). Dislikes the United States of America and Israel intensely, this frequently crosses the border between distaste and outright bigotry, especially in their online comment section.
- The Observer - Sunday-only sister paper to The Guardian. Basically the same, but even more smug. Also leans more towards the arts. It has a different editorial staff, which caused a bit of an internal passive-aggression when the Observer, which is often published under the Guardian's masthead, published a comment piece by Julie Burchill that was so transphobic that it would make the Daily Mail blanche. That said, the Guardian isn't as clean either, and it's generally regarded by most of the LGBT community as a haven for left-wing or feminist transphobia.
- The Observer does have some reason to be smug - it is oldest Sunday newspaper in the entire world.
- The Guardian is also increasingly notable for the nearly unfailing correlation of their recommendations about elections and the inverse outcome:
- Told Americans not to vote for George W. Bush's second term, and encouraged their readers to write Americans in the "swing" area of Clark County, Ohio to this effect, even if the American voters in question were complete strangers. It caused a major backlash from Americans that resulted in Clark County voting Republican; the Guardian wound up publishing some of the hate mail that they received under the headline "Dear Limey assholes".
- Although, as many of their commenters noted, that reaction was entirely predictable, and some accused the Guardian of cynically stirring it up so they could publish a decent "Look how boorish and stupid Republican voters are!" article. It later emerged that most Americans (surprise surprise) had simply ignored them, and those that had written back had been overwhelmingly polite.
- And Londoners not to vote for Boris Johnson as mayor.
- And then cautiously sort-of-endorsed the Lib Dems in the 2010 UK election, as a means of keeping out the Tories.
- After the Tories had got in, the paper jerked sharply back to Labour, and promptly forgot the things that drove them from the party in the first place. Really, theirs is not so much a pro-Labour position as pro-anybody-but-the-bloody-Conservatives-again.
- In Summer 2011, The Guardian enjoyed a welcome bask in the limelight, having been plugging away at the News of the World phone scandal for years, only for them to blow the doors right off by publishing some revelations that the News of the World had also hacked a murdered teenager's phone and the phones of several dead soldiers. If the Graun hadn't been investigating so tirelessly, chances are what the News of the World were doing would never have come to light. Even Telegraph columnists have given them props.
- It is also worth noting that Private Eye had been saying similar things for even longer, however.
- Even more recently, the Guardian has shown itself to be particularly favorable towards the Occupy protest movements, the opinion pages practically endorsing it outright. On the other hand, it also shows a bias that both seems to skewer the coverage and conforms to the aforementioned "Guardianista" and navel-gazing tendencies.
- On the other hand, not everyone agrees that the Guardian is actually left wing: "When will the hacks stop saying that the Guardian is left wing? It's more of a lifestyle magazine for people on the centre right who occasionally Tippex their Remembrance Day poppy because they want to celebrate peace not war and who own kitchens whose colour scheme must match the dish of the day." - Robin Ince
- A joke sometimes made about the Guardian is that it is just as dishonest as any other UK paper...except the Guardian distorts and lies for ideological purposes rather than commercial ones, which make it slightly "purer".
The Independent - 105,160 copies a day; 264,432 for lite spinoff the i
"It's not like we're The Independent, we can't just stick a headline like CRUELTY and a picture of a whale or something underneath it.
- 'Also known as "The Indyscribablyboring". Considerably younger than the other broadsheets and originally set up to be genuinely independent, it has turned into a somewhat Lib-Dem supporting paper (stopping short of outright support but advocating a hung parliament), and latterly has turned to tabloid-style editorial-lead front-page headlines. It has also, in recent years, become particularly outspoken on environmental issues to a slightly obsessive, even alarmist, degree to the extent that it tends to cover environmental issues in the same way the right-wing tabloids cover immigration (i.e. whether they're in the news or not). In March 2010 the paper was bought for £1 by Russian oligarch and former KGB employee, Alexander Lebedev. Having only been set up in the late '80s, Jim Hacker didn't say anything about it; if he did, he'd say that "the Independent is read by the people who think whoever is running the country isn't doing it properly" though the Spiritual Successor to Yes Minister, The Thick of It, describes the average Independent front page as "a headline saying 'CRUELTY' and then a picture of a dolphin or a whale underneath". Even if World War III had broken out the previous day.
- Has recently founded the i, which can best be described as a "lite" version of the paper.
The Financial Times - 316,493 copies a day
- Also known as "The Pink 'Un", due to its colour. Business and economics broadsheet, mostly incomprehensible to anyone not working in management. Seems to be holding up better than most in the great general decline of newspaper readership. Has been printed on pink paper rather than white since 1893, originally because it was cheaper, with the added bonus of being more difficult to photocopy in black-and-white. Curiously enough, it sells more copies outside of Britain.
The Catholic Herald - 23,000 copies per week, distributed to Catholic parishes
Eating Turkey at Christmas Is Like Nailing An Egg To The Cross!
-Spoof CH headline, by Chris Morris
A London-based weekly broadsheet that serves both the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Despite its fairly small circulation (generally to Catholic parishes), it is nevertheless a reasonably influential paper, becoming a bastion of social conservatism in the British press. It's editorial line is always that of the Catholic Church; whilst there is no direct or official Vatican oversight, the paper never prints opinion contrary to current Catholic doctrine by internal covenant. Some non-Catholics read it for this exact reason. Generally, its slant on social issues is to the right of the ''Daily Mail'' (see below)
, advocating, for instance, a ban on abortion even in cases of rape or incest. It is a relentlessly pessimistic paper (though, in its defence, it is hard to see how it can be else in an increasingly secular and liberal UK), and tends to publish the same kind of doom and gloom stories as the Mail
, only generally with a way, way
higher standard of reportage. For Catholics, it runs a series of excellent and informative non-news articles on everything from ecumenism, Vatican II, to the Saints.
Its other main line is in publishing Christian apologetics, and it publishes several notable articles in this vein. These are usually fairly good, with occasional anti-atheist Hitler Ate Sugar
screeds letting the side down. Dislikes what it seens as "commercialized" festivals, especially Christmas (it hates Halloween for this reason, plus a perceived anti-Christianity) Has little tolerance for "cafeteria Catholics", which it sees as National Secular Society Catholics
. Has a "Stop Having Fun" Guy
attitude to the holidays, hence the Morris spoof.
- Its political affiliation was generally Conservative, but since David Cameron's "I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative" speech, and with no credible right-wing alternative, it has abandoned them for a new political position that can best be summarized as "fuck you all."
- It generally supports Labour social programs, however, in accordance with Catholic teaching on the poor.
- It caused a non-troversy when it apparently called for Phillip Pullman's books to be burned. It hadn't, but Pullman thought it had, repeating the myth in an interview, from whence it spread.
- The comment threads on its website are populated by a mix fanatical Traditionalists, atheists, whose comments range from trolling to genuine debate, and a few desperate "mainstream" Catholics, who struggle to inject reason into discussions which resemble Yugoslavia in terms of civility and coherence.
- Scooped its fellow newspapers in a somewhat un-Christian way: When the controversial Pope Pius XII died in 1958, most papers only reported it the day after, as Pius had died during the night, which is when papers are normally printed. The Catholic Herald, on the other hand, famously "didn't bother praying for a miracle" and instead assumed he would die that night, running his obituary and thus covering the story before anyone else
The Daily Express - 577,543 copies per day.
Well, "ethical", I don't quite know what the word means, but perhaps you'll explain what the word means - "ethical".
- AKA "The Daily Sexpress" since its owner is Richard Desmond, a porn baron*, and the paper advertises his channels' programmes. Amusingly, however, the paper itself is very reactionary, and manages to convey an impression of being against porn in general termsnote . It seems to have an obsession with Conspiracy Theories about the death of Princess Diana, which generates a surprising number of front-page stories for the paper even today and has led to the use of the nickname "The Di-ly Express" (most notably, when every other paper was printing front page stories about the anniversary terrorist attacks on London, the two Desmond titles used a Diana headline (Express) and a B-list-reality-show-contestant headline (Star)). However, it usually runs Diana stories on a Monday. Guess which day has lowest newspaper sales. Subscribes to Missing White Woman Syndrome on occasion, having an almost unhealthy obsession with Madeleine McCann. Strangely missing in Hacker's speechnote , although he'd probably say that it's "read by the people who think the country ought to be run like they think it used to be". Interestingly enough, the first newspaper in Britain to have a crossword and one the first to report on gossip and sports to a significant degree. Leon Trotsky wrote despatches for the Express for a while after Stalin chucked him out of the USSR.
- For an example of the advertising for his own channels: in the issue after Desmond acquired Channel Five, Private Eye observed that they mocked ITV's paltry audience share of 13.6% and praised Five's groundbreaking share of 5% in the same article.
- Probably better noted for being out and out racist, on occasion making the Daily Mail look moderate by comparison (and the rest of the time, not far away from the Mail's general tenor), regularly running front page stories demonising immigrants and/or minorities, often on a very very flimsy basis. Essentially, the Mail off its medication.
- Had a Crowning Moment of Tastelessness when it ran an article attacking the grown-up survivors of the Dunblane massacre, for the heinous crime (a Moral Event Horizon in the paper's eyes) of...having pictures of them drinking on their Facebook pages.
- Fanatically hates the European Union, and is on a "crusade" to get Britain out of the EU.
The Daily Mail - 1,945,496 copies per day
WILL PENSIONS CRISIS CAUSED BY MARXIST GAY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FROM THE HITLER-BACKED EU CHEATING ON BENEFITS AND GETTING MARRIED CAUSE HOUSE PRICE CRASH AND CANCER IN MARGINALIZED WHITE CHRISTIANS?!?
—Every single Daily Mail issue ever, distilled into a single headline
- Says the enemy's among us, taking our women and taking our jobs. Ultra right-wing, populist, nationalistic, xenophobic, isolationist often hysterical and notoriously obsessed with the immigrants and house prices and, lately, campaigns against same sex marriage and claimants of state benefits. Infamously supported fascism in a big way in the 1930s (hence the common "Daily Heil" nickname); prior to World War II, it openly advocated an alliance with Adolf Hitler and claimed German Jews seeking refuge in Britain were "exaggerating" the bad treatment they claimed to be getting from Herr Hitler's sound and firm government. In the Mail's opinion, they were just economic migrants taking advantage of Britain's lax generosity, (and besides we have far too many Jews in Britain as it is.)
Currently, it likes to present itself as the voice of the "silent (moral) majority", or occasionally "the ordinary man on the street", a totally-not-made-up being distinguished by holding exactly the same opinions as the Daily Mail. It provoked a protest march from emo kids due to some shoddy journalism. Has an Irish edition that is similarly populist in its editorial policy, humorously leading to scare stories and editorial campaigns printed in different markets that contradict one another. Notable for having some pretty controversial columnists on its staff; Richard Littlejohn is usually the most commonly cited example. In fact, the Guardian newspaper annually publishes the "Littlejohn Audit", of his references to homosexuality:
Marina Hyde: In the past year's columns, Richard has referred 42 times to gays, 16 times to lesbians, 15 to homosexuals, eight to bisexuals, twice to 'homophobia' and six to being 'homophobic' (note his scornful inverted commas), five times to cottaging, four to 'gay sex in public toilets', three to poofs, twice to lesbianism, and once each to buggery, dykery, and poovery. This amounts to 104 references in 90-odd columns — an impressive increase on his 2003 total of 82 mentions. There is, alas, no space for us to revisit the scientific study which found obsessive homophobes more responsive to gay porn. But Richard, we're begging you: talk to someone.
- After its flirtation with the British Union of Fascists (until the events of 1939-45 made this unthinkable even for the Mail), it will now always support the Conservatives, although its tone verges into BNP territory a lot, leading to the occasional condemnation of the latter to (unconvincingly) make itself appear moderate. In 2012 it raised some eyebrows by publishing a column endorsing the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election (a decision roundly applauded on the Neo-Nazi Stormfront messageboard). She lost.
Some journalists, notably the Guardian's Paul Davies, have pointed out the Daily Mail isn't right wing as a rule; it's just slavishly devoted to its huge market, the white 30+ middle class. If this market is resentful towards bankers (most recently), the Tories, etc., then the Mail is not afraid to bash bankers and the Tories. So it all comes down to the bottom line in the end. The Mail is very similar to The Sun when at its worst, but likes to pretend it's more upmarket. Despite both these pretensions, its supposed social conservatism, and its moralizing about "permissive society", it maintains the "FeMail" section of its website. Ostensibly devoted to woman's issues, this "sidebar of shame" is essentially a vehicle that allows the Daily Mail to publish smut. Keywords*
With what they really mean in asterisks include "shows some leg"*, "troubled star"*, "singing sensation"* "plunging neckline"*, "shows off her toned body"*, "very short skirt"*, and the old favorites "risque" and "shocking"* The paper is completely shameless about this hypocrisy, and after a "shocking" X Factor final where Rihanna and Christina Aguilera put on "provocative"* half-time show, made the ludicrously transparent claim: "We apologize for showing you these pics but they must be seen in order to understand the true fury they have provoked." FeMail is notably obsessed with Karen Gillan, Katie Price and Kim Kardashian. Rages against paedophiles but frequently runs articles with pictures of underage girls in skimpy clothes, such as an online article about Will Smith's twelve year old daughter with no fewer than twenty pictures of her in a bikini. Only escapes being considered 'gutter press' due to tradition, but is even losing that battle, with its journalists famously trying to distance itself from their editor, Paul "Mugabe" Dacre. Saving graces are that it sometimes does some pretty interesting historical articles (thanks to the presence of respected historian and ex-war correspondent Sir Max Hastings on the writing staff), and often has very nice nature and landscape photographs. The crossword isn't bad either. Since the "Daily Heil" nickname is seen as dated and the Mail is seen as having more flaws than just a right-wing slant, it's sometimes called the "Daily Fail".
- Another common theme in the Mail is that just about everything causes cancer, or cures it, possibly both on different days, and actually has a segment on ridiculous health theories, usually involving cancer, fruit, or fruit that gives you cancer. This is why it is nicknamed "The Daily Hypochondriac". The comedian Russell Howard created the Daily Mail Cancer Song to the usual tune.
- Also expect a similar obsession over house prices as well, how they are at their worst for years and too many people can't get on the property ladder. Almost as if they cycle through 3 or 4 pre-selected topics a day...
- Attacks the BBC endlessly, without ever mentioning that the Daily Mail group owns a major share in ITN, direct competitors with BBC News. Any bad news featuring anyone with even a remote connection with the BBC will always have BBC in the headline. However a BBC reporter who bravely defended a shop against rioters was reported without mentioning the BBC until the last paragraph. This is actually a good way of reading the Daily Mail. Read the headline and then skip to the last paragraph to see what the actual facts are and which contradict the rest of the story.
- Two of its most controversial episodes were when Richard Littlejohn attacked the Yorkshire Ripper's victims, saying that, because they were prostitutes, their deaths were "no great loss." It is for this reason that Uncyclopedia now comes up with the message "Whoops! Maybe you were looking for Cunt" at the top of his page. The other was when Jan Moir attacked the late Steven Gately, saying that his death was his own fault because he was gay and liked to have sex with people. And That's Terrible.
- Throughout the Harry Potter books, the Daily Mail is the morning paper read by Vernon Dursley, Harry's snobby and politically reactionary uncle.
- Also the only paper in the UK with more female readers than male readers (hence the reference in Hacker's speech at the top) - apparently, an estimated 70% of the readership are women.
- The Mail has of late (since around 2010 or so) taken the strategy of posting its questionable, sensationalist articles online, attracting unsuspecting Americans (and Canadians and Australians and...) who think that because it's a British paper with a respectable-sounding name it cannot possibly be a disreputable organ of the gutter press, and proceed to pass along these stories (attracting eyes and thus advertising revenue). Cracked has called them out on this. Twice.
- Possibly because the average Daily Mail reader needs to consume media in a quasi-visual format in order for their petrified ganglions to process it, the Mail does some excellent photojournalism, fanatically buying and commissioning just about all photos on all topics. This can include the most "shocking" paparazzi photos, for those interested in such things, to genuinely brilliant news images on the major issues of our time.
The Mail on Sunday - 1,979,701 copies per week
There are no witty or representative quotes to describe the Mail on Sunday.
- The Sunday sister paper of the Daily Mail; while still staunchly conservative, it's far less alarmist and far more credible. Has journalists and columnists such as staunchly Anglican conservative and enemy of television Peter Hitchens (brother of the famous atheist/antitheist Christopher Hitchens). Tends to be read by conservatives who like reading a newspaper without hysteria (although Peter Hitchens can sometimes seem a little bit out-there; he regularly bashes the Conservative Party for being too left-wing and strongly criticises what he perceives as the modern right's idolisation of Margaret Thatcher).
The Evening Standard - 704,008 copies per day in 2011, now a freesheet
—The war-cry of its news-vendors
- Evening Standard - London's evening paper. Formerly an Associated Newspapers paper, it played a contributory role in Ken Livingstone's 2008 defeat in the Mayor of London election. This led to it being dubbed the "Evening Boris" after eventual winner Boris Johnson; the paper's particular dislike for Livingstone can be traced back to a controversial incident in 2005 where he was less than polite to one of its reporters, and what should have been a minor gaffe was blown out of all proportion, became a national scandal and left everyone involved (including Livingstone himself, the reporter who chose to make it an issue, the Evening Standard in its entirety, and the Daily Mail which had predictably come to its sister paper's defence) with egg on their faces. Recently bought by a former KGB agent for £1 and turned it into a freesheet. Despite no longer being part of Associated Newspapers, it was even more hostile to Ken and pro-Boris in 2012 than 2008, if that's even possible.
First News - 39,450 copies per week
is a newspaper for young people of school age. It manages to take a mature and unbiased look at world issues whilst still being kid-friendly. It has everything a newspaper should (in theory) have, but adapted for children.
The Sun - 2,582,301 copies per day
—Russell Howard on a typical edition
- Also known as "The Currant Bun" in one of the better known pieces of Cockney rhyming slang, or "The Scum" if you're not feeling as kind. Famously, home of the Page Three Stunna, although it's not the only tabloid to do so. Also known for using topless women to sell propaganda. Solidly conservative-right when it comes to politics, its populist working-class stance means this position is usually dressed-up as standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the common man, often unconvincingly. Supported the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher and John Major before deciding to back Labour in 1997, 2001 and 2005 (in spite of spending much of this period attacking Labour Party policy in its editorials), it now supports Cameron's revitalised Conservatives. One theory for the paper's changing party allegiance (unusual in a British newspaper) is that the paper doesn't want to be seen to back a loser — or rather, Murdoch is trying to get UK media ownership regulations relaxed. It may also have something to do with the Labour party's hard swing to the right during Blair's leadership.
The ink comes off on your hands. Has been responsible for some of the most famous (or infamous) headlines of recent times, such as "Gotcha" (the sinking of General Belgrano in 1982 during The Falklands War, although the original story merely thought it had been damaged), "It's The Sun Wot Won It" (after backing Major's Conservatives to a surprise 1992 General Election victory), and occasional superlatively convoluted Punny Headlines such as the football-related "Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious". Uses Bold Inflation a LOT. Has recently created a free Polish-language edition, Polski Sun, for the duration of Euro 2008. The last time time they endorsed Labour they did it by blowing red smoke out of a chimney. You see, this Ratzinger fellow had received a promotion...
- This Billy Bragg song, Never Buy The Sun tells you most of what you need to know.
- A useful tip would be not to buy/read or talk positively about ''The Sun'' around Liverpool, due to a particularly disgusting and wholly untrue article they ran which accused Liverpool fans of attacking victims of the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster. You'll find it difficult to do this anyway; most newsagents in Liverpool refuse to stock it and nobody will take it, even with a free DVD or magazine stuffed in to lure them to buy it, nor can they even give it away for free. Twenty-two years on and the Sun's circulation in the city has never even begun to recover. It was that offensive. In an episode of Alexei Sayle's Liverpool, Sayle tried to give it away in Liverpool as toilet paper, and was told by one Liverpudlian: "I'd sooner stick a rusty poker up my arse than that rag."
- At one point the Sun's editor apologized, but later after he'd left the paper he recanted, said he'd been pressured into the apology by Rupert Murdoch, and stood by the original story.
- In Liverpool it's not just not carried by newsagents, it's actively campaigned against, even 22 years later. Even Everton supporters overcome their hatred of Liverpool FC and avoid buying The Sun.
- Crosses over into Too Dumb to Live on the Sun's part. Allegedly everyone in the newsroom, including various Liverpudlians, knew how monumentally stupid it was going to be to run an article that insulting and badly researched...but the editor in charge, the notorious Kelvin MacKenzie, was reputedly such a newsroom tyrant that nobody had enough of a pair to say to him: "Kelvin, mate, pissing off a huge market on a day where they are mourning a shattering loss is a really fucking stupid idea."
- Romani or Irish Travellers won't thank you for doing so either, what with their "Stamp On The Camp" campaign that was trying to have both communities reclassified as some sort of vermin infestation or something. Nor has their treatment of refugees, women, Muslims or... *sigh* Just don't admit to liking it around anyone who isn't a white, heterosexual working-class male under the age of forty, alright?
- And over twenty-five; anything below and you're a hoody, a vicious criminal or slacking off in school thanks to all the exam boards 'dumbing down'.
- All of the above make the arrests of the weekend of the 11-12 February 2012 and the subsequent internal blame game very easy to watch for all of the above offended groups.
- Former editor Kelvin McKenzie (the one responsible for the above-mentioned Hillsborough article) conveniently summed up the average Sun reader: "He's the bloke you see in the pub, a right old fascist, wants to send the wogs back, buy his poxy council house, he's afraid of the unions, afraid of the Russians, hates the queers and the weirdos and drug dealers. He doesn't want to hear about that stuff (i.e. serious news)".
- The Sun now publishes an edition every day except Christmas Day.
- The following can also be added to the enormous "groups that hate The Sun" category: Celebrities, many of whom have taken the paper to task for privacy issues. Gay people (thanks to the following headlines: ARE WE BEING RUN BY A GAY MAFIA? ("Do they leave a My Little Pony's head in your bed?" snarked The News Quiz) and STRAIGHT SEX CANNOT GIVE YOU AIDS - OFFICIAL) and Muslims, who object to the paper's coverage of their religion.
- The headline about straight sex not giving AIDS was recently named the worst newspaper headline in British history by one journalism professor, beating even the Hillsborough lies. The reasoning was that whilst the Sun's coverage of Hillsborough was untrue and offensive, the Sun's claim that straight sex could not give you AIDS was untrue, offensive and actively endangered its readership's lives.
- Fans of computer games as a general rule despise newspapers, as whenever a tragic event (Such as a shooting) happens, if it's shown that the murderer bought a video game (Call of Duty is particularly popular), the British media will demand the game is banned. The Sun got a lot of fire following the Sandy Hook Shooting, where they demanded Call Of Duty Black Ops 2 be banned, despite (A): Giving the game a positive review, and (B): Making the article about Black Ops 2 a front-page spread, meaning that they were making money off of dead children.
- So, that's an tremendously long list of people who loathe the Sun. By appealing only to their very narrow target demographic and insulting absolutely everybody else to such an extent that the very mention of it is offensive to all decent folk, the Sun manages to be the tenth most popular newspaper in the world and the most popular in the British isles.
The Daily Mirror - 1,102,810 copies a day
—Spokesman for the Queen's Lancashire Regiment
, during the paper's finest hour
and sacking of its least-regarded editor...
- A generally left-wing tabloid (though as a populist paper it can veer right on issues like crime), supporting Labour doggedly but opposing the Iraq War. Ironically founded as a Conservative stable-mate of the Daily Mail (to the extent of supporting Oswald Mosley), but new ownership in the '30s turned it to its present left-of-centre ideology. Had one editor (Piers Morgan) sacked over faked pictures of abuse in Iraq, then few months later ran the "Bush states have lower IQs" hoax as genuine. Has been in decline a long period of time. Also known as the "Daily Moron", after Piers Morgan - always named some variant on Piers Moron by Private Eye. Everyone in Britain was rightly relieved when CNN brought him to America to replace Larry King (leading to a Saturday Night Live parody of him played by Taran Killam that seems to have built on the Eye's characterisation).
- Other notable gaffes involved "mentioning the war" before England's Euro 96 semi-final against Germany. Then again, that's standard operating procedure in the gutter press whenever England play Germany. Nonetheless, on this occasion the Mirror contrived to go unusually far even by those standards, going off on an extended riff about "Declaring Football War" on Germany.
- It also has an odd history of enmity with Private Eye, due to both an owner, Robert Maxwell, and later the aforementioned editor Piers Morgan, having a special hatred for the magazine and no compunction against devoting all the resources they possessed to this 'battle'. At one point, it called Ian Hislop's vicar and asked it he had any "dirt" on the Eye editor (instead, the Vicar tipped him off). The best "dirt" the paper managed were invented stories about Hislop's alleged "chronic piles" and "weird obsession with tangerines."
- In more recent years the Mirror has been targeting a primarily female audience, to the point where generally about half of the stories and articles are aimed specifically at women, with the remainder (barring the sports pages) being gender-neutral. The exception to this is the Saturday and Monday editions; since so much of the paper is dedicated to football on those days anyway, the editorial team usually uses them for any male-specific content they want to publish.
- Because of their vicious coverage of them in the lead-up to the Iraq War, as well as the aforementioned faked photographs of abuse in Iraq, which led to de-mobbed soldiers being spat at in the street before the pictures were exposed as false, means that it would not be a good idea to admit to liking it around Brits With Battleships. During the false torture smears, the Queen's Lancashire Regiment outdid even the tabloids in snappy repartee:
The Daily Star - 617,082 morons per day
WILL HOMO MUSLIM BENEFIT SCROUNGERS CAUSE JORDAN TO HAVE BREAST CANCER?!?
—Every Star Headline Ever
- The Daily Star, another Desmond title. More tits and less news than The Sun, and is essentially a daily gossip magazine. The day after Prince Charles' engagement to Camilla Parker-Bowles was announced it led with the headline "BORING OLD GITS TO WED". Admittedly makes things up.
- Remember several paragraphs up when we mentioned the Express was "the Mail off its meds"? Well, as the Star doesn't have the need to kid anyone about its (lack of) journalistic integrity, it sometimes appears more racist and Islamophobic than its sister paper, including cozying up to the far-right, Muslim-baiting English Defence League on several occasions. One of their reporters quit after being instructed to "wrap himself around" a group of women in burkas whilst wearing nothing but his underwear. So basically, the Express's "special" little brother. Who is also off his meds.
- Infamous for its misleading headlines. For instance: "JORDAN IN NEW CANCER SCARE! Shock Diagnosis for Kate and her Family!" From this, one might infer that Ms Price had cancer? Err, no. The "CANCER SCARE" was in fact this: Her boyfriend Alex Reid uses fake tan, which might cause cancer. Other examples: JORDAN CELEBRATES HOT BABY NEWS, JORDAN'S BABY BOY, (notice a theme here), TERROR AS PLANE HITS ASH CLOUDS (illustrated using an image from a documentary and not hinting that the whole thing was fictional) and ROYAL BABY ON WAY (the startling revelation that William and Kate, being married, might choose to conceive a child).
- The Star is among the many tabloids that earned its distinction of proving Chris Morris completely right in the aftermath of a certain special episode of Brass Eye, but their reaction was an example for the textbooks. Read all about it!◊ In case you didn't get it: Right page is a lot of moral indignation, and the left page complements then-15-year-old singer Charlotte Church on the size of her breasts.
Down with Imperialism!
—All of them. "Imperialism" in this context may be translated as "everything I don't like."
- For those who have read the opening quote carefully and are wondering, The Morning Star, formerly The Daily Worker, was the pro-Soviet daily newspaper of the British Communist Party. There are a number of weekly papers by other far-left groups, such as Militant and Socialist Worker, but these are only sold in the street by supporters of the groups that print them. The Morning Star itself still exists and is still nominally affiliated with the British Communist Party (which also still exists) but aims itself at a broader audience among the radical left rather than focusing on the tiny minority of actual Communists remaining in the UK.
- It was originally affiliated with the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) but switched to the breakaway Communist Party of Britain (CPB) in the 1980s. A good thing for them, too, as the CPGB fell apart soon after The Great Politics Mess-Up. Oops.
- Ironically the Morning Star is unique among British tabloid format newspapers in being literally blue-top instead of red-top, despite being explicitly socialist.
- Other smaller papers such as Worker's Hammer can generally be found being given away as freesheets on university campuses the length and breadth of these fair isles.
The Daily Sport - 84,000 copies a day, before it ran out of money
—The Daily Sport and everything about it distilled into a single word
- Pure Male Gaze. Home to even more topless women and also owned by a pornographer. Equivalent to the US National Enquirer, in a way. Superficially resembles the Sun, Mirror and Star, but notable for containing almost nothing that is normally thought of as news. Including a double-decker bus encased in an Antarctic ice sheet, a World War II bomber found on the Moon, a kebab house with an unconventional ingredient and a half-horse, half-human baby. Squeezed in, with extreme difficulty, around the porn.
- The day they reported on the bomber, they received a phone call: "I am a professional astronomer, I am looking at the Moon right now, and I can assure you, there is no bomber there." Their headline the next day: "World War II Bomber On Moon Vanishes!"
- After a brush with bankruptcy the daily edition of this once fine organ of the press* has ceased publication, although the Sunday Sport lives on and a midweek version is also published.
- The Daily Star, its only close rival, has somehow managed to wangle it so that typing "Daily Sport" into Google UK gives the Daily Star's website as the top result.
The News Of the World - 2,789,560 copies a day in its heyday, it has since choked to death on its own filth
—Statement from News International.
The People - 701,246 copies per week
I'm sure that the People will be available for your press releases - right between Jordan's tits and the kinky sex spread.
—Piers "Morgan" Moron, during a heated conflict with Alastair Campbell over perceived anti-Labour bias at the Mirror.
- The People - A Sunday paper, sister to the Sunday Mirror. No-one reads it (or rather, no-one admits to reading it), since the Sunday Mirror is basically the same but with better brand recognition and less pronographic connotations, but somehow it's still going after 130 years. Has recently become notorious for Bait and Switch front pages involving celebrities' "lady bits", the paper usually purporting to show/contain a photograph of a national celebrities "downstairs", which transpires to have only a tangential connection to the celeb.
It's basically a foreign country!
Piers "Morgan" Moron
Most national newspapers also put out a Scottish edition with a few vague attempts at localisation. This is influenced by the fact that political "left and right" are a bit different in Scotland than in the rest of the UK (particularly England). Someone who was fairly centrist in London terms would be seen as rather right-wing in Scotland. Naturally, the Tories are often barely a blip in Scotland, with races being between Labour, the Lib Dems, and the SNP (who want to break away from the UK). One notable effect of this is that while The Sun
is now solidly Tory in the rest of the UK, the Scottish edition now maintains an uncomfortable neutrality. Yes folks, that's local opinion (and its effect on sales) winning out over the influence of Rupert Murdoch
That said, there are also a few specifically Scottish titles, such as:
- The Herald: Formerly The Glasgow Herald, a centre-left broadsheet. Generally supports Labour, although was anti-war in Iraq. Sunday edition is called The Sunday Herald.
- The Scotsman: Published in Edinburgh, slightly right leaning—by which we mean that they don't really distinguish between between Lib Dems and New Labour in general terms (again—this is Scotland). Broadsheet in terms of content, but published at tabloid size. Sunday edition is called Scotland on Sunday.
- The Daily Record: Scottish tabloid, published in Glasgow. Supports Labour and takes a leftist stance on economic issues but tends to be conservative on social issues (it vocally supported a campaign to retain the anti-gay Section 28 legislation). Second best selling paper in Scotland (beaten by The Sun). Fiercely, fiercely anti-nationalist. Previously owned by The Mirror Group, when it was basically just the Scottish edition of The Mirror, but now independently owned and is all new content. A cut-down version is given out in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow (with a small amount of regional specific exclusive content in each edition). Sunday edition is The Sunday Mail, which is more leftist and is the biggest selling Sunday paper in Scotland.
- Also known as 'the Daily Weegie', 'The Daily Rangers' and 'The Daily Retard'.
- The Press & Journal: Published in Aberdeen and only available in the North-East of Scotland. Incredibly parochial (the rumour goes that the sinking of the Titanic was reported as "North-East Man Lost At Sea"). Right leaning, but does not openly support the Conservative party. Independently owned and published. Known in its area as the P&J.
- The Sunday Post: Tartan, Heather and Shortbread in Sunday newspaper form. Published in Dundee and home to iconic Scottish comic strips The Broons and Oor Wullie. No daily edition, because no one could take that level of "Bonnie Scotland" sentiment on a daily basis. Published by D.C. Thomson, better known for comics such as The Beano and The Dandy.
Ireland is different...
- The Belfast Telegraph: Published in Belfast (obviously), a conservative and moderate Unionist daily broadsheet. Currently the best selling Northern Irish based newspaper.
- The Irish News: Published in Belfast and available across Ireland, though it is only a major player in the North. A moderate Nationalist compact.
- The News Letter: Ancient Belfast based tabloid, published since 1737, making it the longest surviving English language daily in the world. Staunchly Unionist in politics (though apparently it was once Republican in its distant past).
- Additionally most of the English papers sell specific Irish editions in the Republic. These range from near-identical to the English versions (The Irish Sun) to substantially different (The Irish Daily Star, which superficially resembles its London equivalent but with far less interest in celebrities and a surprisingly strong Irish political view). The Daily Mail (of all papers) has fairly recently started producing an Irish edition and is trying to find its footing and understand its audience - ironically Lord Northcliffe, the founder of the paper was himself originally from Dublin.
- The Impartial Reporter, based mainly around Fermanagh and Enniskillen. Tries to stay out of politics, and a brief look at Northern Irish politics will tell you why and give you the reason for the name.
- Ironically, The Impartial Reporter is viewed in some circles as the local Protestant/Unionist newspaper; a second newspaper in the area, The Fermanagh Herald, is more geared towards Catholic/Nationalist readers. This duopoly in local press according to where you stand on The Irish Question is mirrored in other cities and towns in Northern Ireland; its second-largest city has weekly papers The Derry Journal and The Londonderry Sentinel - have a guess which community each paper targets!
Tabloid sized newspapers available free at railway stations and from street vendors. Or from the seats of trains, which is where they usually end up - letters to the Metro
have on occasion encouraged people to do this and complained about train staff removing the papers. On the Manchester trams, there are notices encouraging people to leave the Metro
on the seat. Conversely on Manchester area trains and The London Underground
there are posters warning that doing so is littering.
- Metro - Has multiple local editions. No real political views explicitly expressed in the paper (it doesn't have a comment section) but the writing is reminiscent of its sister paper, the Daily Mail. Amusingly, once confused a Saudi Royal with an international terrorist.
- Most of it's content can be summed up as obsessing over The X Factor, Cheryl Cole, Reality TV, Simon Cowell and anything with Pop Music in. Although it does print Nemi as well.
- This leads to major "just here for Nemi". In almost any given situation, 90% of people will be reading Nemi, or doing the pitifully easy quizzes, sudoku, and crosswords which are remarkable only because they are on the same page as Nemi.
- Also on the Friday edition there's a "just here for Richard Herring", since the comedian writes a column in the paper on that day.
- thelondonpaper. Frequently sticks a picture of a scantily-clad woman in its "pictures of the day" section on page 2. It was owned by Rupert Murdoch, go figure. Although unlike Murdoch's other papers, it was strongly socially liberal, with male and female regular gay columnists. Now defunct.
- London Lite. Associated Newspapers owned (and previously a lite version of the Standard), now defunct.
- City AM. A business paper, with a supplement on sports betting.
- The Evening Standard: see "Mid-market tabloids". Turned into a freesheet in October 2009, after The London Paper closed down, prompting the closure of London Lite too.
Many of these papers have Sunday editions, some of which are quite different (especially The Observer
, which is considerably more moderate than The Guardian
, & the Mail On Sunday
, which is held to be a bit more credible than its daily counterpart). These papers often have a Sunday Leaked Document
. There are also Sunday only papers, as mentioned earlier, not to mention numerous daily regional papers around the country from the Western Mail
(Wales) to the Eastern Daily Press
. Most places in the UK also have at least one local newspaper, where newspaper journalists traditionally start (and in most cases end) their careers. These are generally published weekly, often on a Friday, although it can be on any day. These papers generally (or at least stereotypically) deal with mind-numbingly parochial topics such as road repairs, coffee mornings, local council affairs, etc. Perhaps best summed up with Linda Smith's favourite newspaper headline, "Worksop Man Dies Of Natural Causes". The Rochdale Observer
(a typical example, best-known outside the titular town for being name-checked in Waterloo Road
) once ran a front page story about a food fight
, describing a chicken leg "arcing gracefully through the air" and featuring two interviewees arguing about the airspeed velocity of a Black Forest gateau. One said it was doing 10 mph and the other said 25.
- African or European?
- On the day every other paper reported the assassination of JFK, a local paper's banner headline was "Edlington Man Has Ferret Stolen From Back Garden".
- The Dundee Courier (from the makers of the Sunday Post); when news of the Titanic sinking reached it, its main headline was "Dundee Man Arrested". The Titanic story was a few pages in.
- The Framley Examiner - a parody of English local newspapers, based in the fictional town of Framley and its surroundings (with names like Whoft, Effing Sodbury and others) A very British equivalent of The Onion.
- The North of Bonnie Scotland has the Aberdeen-headquartered Press and Journal (known as the P 'n' J). It's (possibly apocryphal) headline following the Titanic disaster was "Aberdeen Man Lost At Sea".
News and politics magazines:
- The Spectator - The right-wing weekly news magazine, which dates back to the nineteenth century (although it sometimes naughtily claims descent from a famous unconnected early magazine of the same title from the eighteenth century). Now owned by the Telegraph Group. Generally open to all strains of right-wing thought, from the libertarian to the Neo-Conservative to the old school up-the-aristocracy, and editing the magazine gets you a lot of cred in the Conservative Party (e.g. Boris Johnson). Likes to criticize Political Correctness Gone Mad.
- New Statesman - The left-wing weekly news magazine, popularly known as "the Staggers" because of its perpetual financial precariousness. Lost a lot of prestige thanks to a recent period when it was owned by a slightly corrupt government minister and became slavishly Blairite. Now seems slightly confused and looking for a role.
- The Economist - A weekly magazine (although it calls itself a newspaper) owned by The Economist Group. Known in the US mostly as that magazine whose name you throw around if you want to sound smart whether or not you actually read it. Covers foreign affairs and economic matters from a classic liberal perspective (as opposed to American liberal). In the British media, it is considered to be economically quite hard-right-wing but socially libertarian—placing it more or less halfway between the leftmost of the Thatcherite Tories and the rightmost of the Lib Dems—whereas in the US it tends to fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. It might be fair to say that it got its dream-government in the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition, which it has frequently praised (and criticized, but more often praised). The news magazine is mostly a loss-leader for the very expensive, specialised and high-quality business information and economic analysis provided by other bits of the Economist Group.
- The Week - Weekly digest of the week's big news stories, with a fairly dull middle-market middle-wing middle-brow viewpoint. The news and politics magazine for people who aren't all that interested but think they should be making an effort.
- Private Eye - a fortnightly satirical magazine edited by Ian Hislop of Have I Got News for You fame. Notable for having better investigative journalism than most of the proper papers, with the twin results of breaking many scandals earlier than anyone else, and being the subject of countless libel suits (Hislop frequently publishes the letters threatening legal action, and occasionally describes himself as "the most-sued man in British legal history"). Slightly split personality as the news pages tend to be quite left-wing while the cultural coverage tends to "all modern art is a con trick and all pop culture is trash" conservatism.
- People familiar with the French press (no, not the one you use for coffee) should think of Le Canard enchaîné as more or less an exact equivalent (albeit a much shorter one). Americans should think of The Daily Show, but in print form and only coming out once every two weeks. The second half consists of parodies similar to the USA's The Onion, whereas the first half is investigative journalism.
- The final pages consist of "In The Back", a section which highlights various scandals, taking the side of the downtrodden. In The Back usually latches onto scandals before they break in the national press, and is generally concerned with British public services and British multinationals behaving badly.
- The magazine generally dislikes the American government, and often criticizes it for its actions in Guantanamo and in the Chagos Islands (notably, it is equally critical of Brtish actions), although it (in a decision which surprised some readers) is generally anti-Julian Assange, breaking a story involving his links to anti-Semitism. Its attitude to US politics can be best summed up as "a plague on both your houses", though it seems to consider the Republicans to be especially dangerous - editor Ian Hislop memorably summed up US politics like this: "Well, you have the Democrats, who are right wing, the Republican party who are very right wing, and the Tea Party, who are mad."
- Most of the nicknames mentioned, incidentally, were coined, or at least popularised, by Private Eye in its "Street of Shame" page.
- The Big Issue - Weekly magazine which contains articles about social issues. Notable as it specifically exists as a means for homeless people to make a legitimate income - it is only sold in the street by homeless vendors and can't be bought in shops. See the other wiki.
- Prospect - Monthly politics magazine with a general establishment-left (although surprisingly anti-immigration at times) and pro-European tendency.
- Standpoint - Monthly politics magazine which is much closer to US Republicanism than any native British ideology, full of stories pointing out how Western Civilisation is in danger from the Muslims and their multicultural socialist friends. Rumoured by opponents to sell sod-all and to be published merely as an attempt to persuade Americans with those politics that they have a serious constituency in the UK.
...There you go, then. This is why so many Brits just get their news from topical quiz shows