Useful Notes / British Newspapers

PM Jim Hacker: Don't tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers: The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country, the Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country, the Times is read by people who actually do run the country, the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country, the Financial Times is read by people who own the country, the Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country and the Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read the Sun?
Bernard Woolley: Sun readers don't care who runs the country, as long as she's got big tits.

The United Kingdom has a good number of nationally distributed newspapers, each of which target a specific political or social group (rather than a specific region like in the US). The British press is collectively known as "Fleet Street", although this is an artifact of an era when many newspapers were at that particular location in London; most have since gone elsewhere.

They are typically classified by format:
  • Broadsheets are the traditionally formatted newspapers, generally thought to be the most intelligent and respectable publications
  • Mid-market tabloids might do some serious reporting, but they're more concerned with gossip
  • Red-tops are the lower end of tabloids, generally being completely ridiculous or hysterical.

As with nearly everything in Britain, there's a class distinction in who reads which papers, with the higher classes reading the more respected publications.

Note that in spite of dealing with a rather different political system from the United States, the comment sections of all these newspapers' websites are populated by pretty much the same sort of Online Personas as American comment sections. So if you were expecting the British stereotype of restraint and civility, prepare to be disappointed.

Circulation figures are correct as of February 2015.

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The Daily Telegraph — 494,675 copies a day

To escape Jury Duty in England, wear a bowler hat and carry a copy of the Telegraph.

The Daily Telegraph is best known for its trenchant support of the Conservative Party, giving it the derisive nickname The Daily Torygraph. However, it's still known as one of Britain's two newspapers of record by reputation, and its reporting is considered to be quite good regardless of its strong political bent. It's famous for the following:
  • Back in 1908, it had a hand in bringing down the Chancellor of the German Empire when it published an interview with Kaiser Wilhelm II in which he ran his mouth off quite inadvisedly.
  • It was the first paper to report on the outbreak of World War II from Poland.
  • In 1944, it accidentally used military codewords in its crossword puzzle, including for major operations of the Normandy landings, prompting a major security alarm. It turned out that the crossword editor, who was also headmaster of a boys' school, had been picking up words from his students, who had in turn been picking up words from the military base next door.
  • In 2009, it was the first to expose the MP expenses scandal.
  • Lately, it has picked up the habit of putting "fruity girls" on the cover at the slightest provocation (most commonly female students celebrating their exam results). It's also got an obsession with Liz Hurley that gave it another derisive nickname, the "Daily Hurleygraph".
  • It's got a hilarious rivalry with the left-leaning Guardian.

The Times and the Sunday Times — 396,621 copies a day, 801,623 on Sundays

Some people are here to see you: three reporters and a gentleman from the Times.
Popular joke satirizing the paper's spotless reputation.

The original Times is one of the oldest newspapers in the UK, having been founded in the 1780s, and it's the UK's other newspaper of record. It's associated with good reporting, level-headedness, and an almost aristocratic courtesy. It's also famous for its cryptic crossswords and for being the origin of the ubiquitous Times New Roman typeface. It has a neutral-to-conservative bent; it is owned by Rupert Murdoch, but it is editorially independent and doesn't have to toe Murdoch's conservative line.

The Sunday Times is a sister paper also owned by Murdoch; although they are essentially grouped together, they were founded independently. It's a thick broadsheet with several supplements. It's most famous for its annual "Sunday Times Rich List", a league table of the UK's richest people.

Its most famous reporting is simultaneously one of its biggest scoops and its biggest goofs; it exposed Israel's Open Secret of a nuclear program. Unfortuantely, the Times failed to take good care of their whistleblower, Israeli scientist Mordechai Vanunu, whom Mossad caught in a Honey Trap and was imprisoned in Israel for 18 years. It's the subject of intense debate how much of this was Vanunu's fault and how much was the Times', but the paper considers it an Old Shame and has become particularly critical of Israel since then (which just gets it into more trouble).

The Guardian and The Observer — 185,429 copies a day

  • Formerly The Manchester Guardian. Officially a "centre-left, liberal" paper. Unique among major UK papers in that its parent company, Guardian Media Group, is owned by a trust which exists to ensure the editorial independence of the group's various publications, and so it's not ultimately beholden to the political or cultural values of any individual publisher. 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". When the chips are down it will tend to support Labour, although in the 2010 general 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 the Times crossword is legendarily difficult, crossword enthusiasts tend to regard the Guardian one more highly. 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).
    • Has a long rivalry with two prominent national papers
      • The Telegraph: Both papers claim to be Britain's "second paper of record" alongside the Times.
      • The Mirror: While both papers are left-wing, the Mirror is pretty much working-class (linked to the trade unions) and monarchistic, while the Guardian is pretty much neither of the two, being more bourgeois and (kinda) anti-monarchist.
    • The Observer - Sunday-only sister paper to The Guardian and the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world. Basically the same, but even more so; also has more arts and culture coverage.
    • The Guardian is also notable for recommending that election results should be not what they in fact turn out to be:
      • Told Americans not to vote for George W. Bush's second term.
      • Told 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.
      • The 2015 General Election was not kind.
      • Recommended that Hillary Clinton be elected US president in 2016, although so did basically every other major newspaper in the English-speaking world, so...
    • In Summer 2011, having been plugging away at the News of the World phone scandal for years, it blew 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 Guardian 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.
    • Has been favourable towards the Occupy protest movements, the opinion pages practically endorsing it outright, and even let Occupy "occupy" Comment is Free for a day.
    • Can be markedly right-wing in its opposition to the Bolivarian governments of Latin America, and pushes the Foreign Office line in relation to geopolitics (especially regarding Russia) to the same extent as most British newspapers.
  • The editors of the New York office of the Guardian have recently set up a blog, English 2 English, designed to explain cultural and linguistic differences between the UK and the US, often set up as a competition between two similar things in each country. Usually, the UK wins (although not always).
  • Particularly via Guardian Weekend, The Observer Magazine and the Observer Food Monthly, the entire Guardian group also manages to be Obsessed with Food, in a somewhat London-centred, Islington-dinner-party, sort of way. Notable in that a lot of the advertising in the Observer Food Monthly appears to be for Marks and Spencers and for south-eastern English supermarket chain Waitrose - two of the more expensive places to buy your food in Britain. Has countered this by making a strong effort to review and cover restaurants and food producers in the rest of the country, but really, it does go on about food. A Lot.

The Independent - 61,338 copies a day (to cease print publication in March 2016); 280,351 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.
Adam Kenyon, The Thick of It

The Independent is considerably younger than the other broadsheets and was set up to be genuinely independent compared to the other papers. It didn't exactly work out; it stopped print publication entirely in March 2016, although it's still available online.

In earlier years, Private Eye called it "The Indyscribablyboring", reflecting how much it tried to be balanced on partisan issues. But since then, it's become outspoken too; it just took a third option and went more or less with the Liberal Democrats. It's also particularly outspoken on environmental issues, obsessing over them in much the same way the right-wing tabloids cover immigration.

The real changes began in 2010, when the paper was bought for a single pound by Russian oligarch (and former KGB employee) Alexander Lebedev. It then introduced a "lite" spinoff called the i, which turned out to be the only print publication to survive 2016; it was sold to Johnston Press.

Specific accomplishments:
  • Among its contributing writers is Nigel Farage, then head of UKIP, a right-wing party based largely on hardline immigration policy and leaving the European Union altogether. The editors defended him against criticism largely by citing its independent stance. However, the paper hance since picked up a number of UKIP sympathisers, including among the editorial ranks.

The Financial Times - 219,444 copies a day

''What's big, pink, and hard in the morning? The Financial Times crossword.

The Financial Times is a business and economics broadsheet. It's mostly incomprehensible to anyone not working in management, and it's such a by-word for "important business stuff" that it sells more copies outside of Britain than within it. It's also knwon as "the Pink 'Un" because it's printed on pink paper; this started in 1893 as a cost-saving measure, but it now gives the paper an air of distinctiveness (and also makes it harder to photocopy). Even the online version has a pink background.

The Catholic Herald - 21,000 copies per week, distributed to Catholic parishes

Eating Turkey at Christmas Is Like Nailing an Egg to the Cross!
—Spoof Catholic Herald headline by Chris Morris

The Catholic Herald is a London-based weekly broadsheet serving both the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Although its circulation is fairly small and generally limited to Catholic parishes, it's a reasonably influential paper, becoming a bastion of social conservatism in the British press.

Its editorical line is always that of the Catholic Church. Although there is no direct or official oversight from the Vatican, the paper never contradicts official Catholic doctrine. Outside of that, its editorial stance is best described as "to the right of the Daily Mail". As such, faced with an increasingly secular and liberal Britain, it's a relentlessly pessimistic paper. However, it has a much higher standard of reporting than the mid-market tabloids, and it has a series of excellent and informative non-news articles on all sorts of Catholic subjects, from ecumenism to Vatican II to the Saints.

  • It's politically all over the place. It likes the Conservatives' general right-wing stance, but it also supports Labour's social programs in keeping with Catholic social teaching. When Conservative PM David Cameron came out in support of gay marriage, though, it basically gave up and adopted a political position best summarized as "Fuck you all."
  • It publishes a lot of Christian apologism, but relatively little of it is anti-atheist Hitler Ate Sugar screeds. It particularly dislikes "commercialized" festivals, especially Halloween, but even Christmas as it's usually celebrated, which gives off a "Stop Having Fun" Guys air. It also has little patience for "cafeteria Catholics".
  • It caused a non-troversy when it apparently called for Philip 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 of fanatical Traditionalists, atheists (whose comments range from trolling to genuine debate), and a few desperate "mainstream" Catholics, who struggle to inject reason into these incoherent conversations.
  • It beat everybody to the scoop that the controversial Pope Pius XII had died in 1958, but it did so in a somewhat un-Christian way. The sick Pope died overnight, after most papers' print deadlines, and most papers waited a day to report on it. The Catholic Herald, however, presumed he would die overnight and famously "didn't bother praying for a miracle".
  • It has a long-running rivalry with the more liberal-leaning Catholic magazine The Tablet, in much the same vein as the Telegraph-Guardian rivalry. In particular, the Tablet doesn't particularly toe the Vatican line on such matters as women in the priesthood, contraception, abortion, or the Latin Mass. Catholic Herald readers refer to the Tablet as "the Bitter Pill". Curiously, many Catholic Telegraph writers are Traditionalists who support the Catholic Herald, whereas many Catholic Guardian writers are pro-Tablet, leading to this rivalry being mirrored in the mainstream Telegraph-Guardian rivalry.
  • It infamously supported Generalissimo Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War, and it didn't shy away from yellow journalism regarding the Republican government's policies and conduct during the war.

The Yorkshire Post — 39,698 copies per day.

Based in Leeds, the Yorkshire Post, despite its name and largely regional circulation, considers itself a national newspaper. As such, it tends to report on national and international news stories rather than following the Local Angle. It's one of the country's oldest newspapers, being founded in the 1750s as the Leeds Intelligencer. Its biggest scoop was in the 1930s when it became the first British paper to break the story of the abdication crisis surrounding King Edward VIII.

The pitfalls of a regional paper, such as the Yorkshire Post or, its cross-pennine peer The Manchester Evening News trying to get the balance right between "local" and "national" and "world" news, are further discussed in Local Angle.

    Mid-Market Tabloids 

The Daily Express — 457,914 copies per day.

Well, "ethical", I don't quite know what the word means, but perhaps you'll explain what the word means — "ethical".
Richard Desmond, Express owner and pornographer. That quote was not invented.

The Daily Express is known for two things; being owned by a porn baron (hence the nickname "the Daily Sexpress") and its obsession with Princess Diana and her death (hence the nickname "the Di-ly Express"). It started as a pioneer of sorts, being the first British newspaper to have a crossword, and it was also the first to report on gossip and sports to any significant degree. It was also notable for having Leon Trotsky write dispatches during his exile from the Soviet Union. These days, though, it's best described as "the Daily Mail off its medication" for its demonisation of immigrants to the point of straight-up racism. Specifically:
  • Its owner Richard Desmond is, as previously mentioned, a porn baron (although he sues people who call him that), and the paper advertises his former channels' programmes. Ironically, the paper itself has a very reactionary stance that would oppose pornography in general terms. This creates something of a contradiction. Desmond tried to make himself more respectable through his purchase of Channel Five in 2010, but practically no one watched it before he sold it in 2015.
  • Its obsession with Princess Diana largely has to do with conspiracy theories surrounding her death in a car accident in 1997. They've been known to invoke Worst News Judgment Ever with their Diana stories. They consistently print them on Mondays; readers have wised up, and Monday is their lowest circulation day. It's also part of a wider case of Missing White Woman Syndrome.
  • Its scare-mongering articles about immigration are so racist that it prompted a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission, the newspapers' self-regulatory body — from its own journalists.
  • It's rather provincial in its coverage, putting Britain above all else and reporting on severe British weather phenomena at the expense of other more newsworthy stories. It also hates the European Union with a passion (Diana died over there!) and was a big proponent of the 2016 "Brexit".
  • Its Crowning Moment of Tastelessness was an article attacking the now-adult survivors of the Dunblane massacre, Britain's deadliest school shooting, because they put pictures of themselves drinking on their Facebook pages. They were able to do this because the journalist in question went online pretending to be a teenager, became Facebook friends with the survivors in question, and then wrote an article about how shameful their behaviour was.note  The paper didn't earn any friends by publishing a classic "We apologise if anyone was offended" apology. The journalist in question still works for the newspaper.
  • Its website has started promoting conspiracy theories of the "Government hushing up UFOs", "LHC could end the world" kind; Private Eye has speculated this could be related to Desmond's wife believing that stuff.

The Daily Mail — 1,668,727 copies per day

Every single Daily Mail issue ever, distilled into a single headline

Says the enemy's among us, taking our women and taking our jobs. The Daily Mail is ultra right-wing, populist, nationalistic, xenophobic, isolationist, often hysterical, and notoriously obsessed with the immigrants, house prices, same-sex marriage, and claimants of state benefits.

It infamously supported fascism in a big way in the 1930s. Prior to World War II, it openly advocated an alliance with Adolf Hitler against the Dirty Communists, and it dismissed reports of mistreatment of German Jews as exaggerations. It further called Jews seeking refuge in Britain nothing more than economic migrants taking advantage of Britain's lax generosity. It led to the common nickname "the Daily Heil", and it's not too different from its anti-immigrant stance today.

These days, it presents itself as the voice of the "silent (moral) majority" or of "the ordinary man on the street", who funnily enough happens to hold the exact same opinions as the Mail. Although it almost always supports the Conservatives, its tone often verges further right into UKIP and BNP territory. It also has an Irish edition that is similarly populist in its editorial policy, but doesn't necessarily have to align with the British version, leading to some humourous contradictions.

It's famous specifically for the following:
  • One of its most controversial columnists is Richard Littlejohn, a Heteronormative Crusader who has a rather unhealthy obsession with homosexuality. It's bad enough that the Guardian annually publishes its "Littlejohn Audit", keeping track of his obsession:
    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.
    • Littlejohn also expressed astonishment at public compassion for a prostitute murdered by a Serial Killer in 2006 because she was a Disposable Sex Worker, and he attacked a transgender teacher so harshly that the column was blamed in part for causing the victim's suicide.
  • In 2012, it raised some eyebrows by publishing a column endorsing for President of France Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate of the Front National, a right-wing fringe party similar to UKIP and the BNP. As an indication of how far right this was, the Neo-Nazi Message Board Stormfront applauded the decision. She lost anyway.
  • It has a big website — even bigger than that of the Guardian. It likes to use it to dump its most sensationalist articles, where they would be read by foreigners who take it seriously because it's a British paper. Cracked has called them out on this.
  • The "FeMail" section of its website is ostensibly devoted to women's issues, but it's essentially a vehicle that allows the Mail to publish smut, with all sorts of codewords being used to sexualise women while still nominally looking progressive. It's a stark contrast to the main paper's social conservatism and moralising about "permissive society". It's been known to apologise for showing naughty pictures but leave them up for posterity (ostensibly for people to be outraged at), and it hasn't shied away from sexualising underage girls. It's earned its reputation as "the sidebar of shame". Despite this, the Mail is still the only paper in the UK with more female than male readers.
  • The Mail is obsessed with cancer; everything has been touted to cause cancer (or maybe autism) on its front page. Some things supposedly cure cancer, and some do both on different days. It has its own segment on ridiculous health theories, usually involving fruit, cancer, or fruit that gives you cancer. This is why it's also nicknamed "The Daily Hypochondriac". Comedian Russell Howard created the "Daily Mail Cancer Song", set to the usual tune.
  • It obsesses over house prices, usually to complain that they keep rising and leaving the working class unable to afford anything good.
  • It has a particular hatred of the BBC, partly because (as it usually fails to mention) the Daily Mail group owns a major share in competing news network ITN. It will bend over backwards to make BBC journalists look bad.
  • Jan Moir wrote a column claiming that the death of Steven Gately, member of the Boy Band Boyzone, came because he was gay (and possibly having kinky sex) and not a heart condition.
  • Columnist Liz Jones, primarily a fashion writer, did an incredibly tasteless piece where she visited a murder victim's hometown and reported on the crime in the manner of a "lifestyle" piece. Highlights include complaining about poor service at the bar the victim visited before her death and an irrelevant rant about the toll charge on the way out of the city.
  • It got in trouble for attacking the deceased father of Labour leader Ed Milliband, claiming that hated Britain and wanted to undermine it, in spite of his being a Jewish Holocaust refugee who went on to serve in the Royal Navy (against the people the Mail supported).
  • One saving grace is that it does sometimes have interesting historical articles; for this, we can thank respected historian and former war correspondent Sir Max Hastings. It also has very good photography, resulting in nice nature and landscape photographs and eye-catching news photography (although it mostly puts this skill to paparazzi photos). The crossword isn't bad either.
  • Fans of the paper often point to a moment in 1997 when, after five white men were acquitted of killing black teenager Stephen Lawrence, the Mail's front page dared the accused to sue it for calling them guilty. No one did, and fifteen years later, two of them were convicted on new evidence. Critics highlight that 1997 was a long time ago.

The Mail on Sunday — 1,164,571 copies per week

The Mail on Sunday is the Sunday sister paper to the Daily Mail. While still staunchly conservative, it's also far less alarmist than the Mail and far more credible. This makes it a paper of choice for conservatives who don't like hysteria. However, its journalists and columnists include staunchly Anglican conservative (and enemy of television) Peter Hitchens, brother of the famous atheist/antitheist Christopher Hitchens, who regularly bashes the Conservative Party for not being right-wing enough.

The New Day (February 29, 2016 - May 6, 2016)

Trinity Mirror's answer to the Mail, the Express, and the i, the New Day was launched at a time when the newspaper industry was in dire straits. Unlike your usual metropolitan paper, it had no editorial page, the information was dedicated mostly to news briefs, and the sports section was located in the middle pages rather than at the back cover, whose space is covered by a weather map. Experts thought it wouldn't last a year. It didn't last three months.

The Evening Standard — 704,008 copies per day in 2011, now a freesheet

The war cry of its news-vendors

The Evening Standard is, as the name implies, London's evening paper. It's best known for the distinctive way its sellers shout out its title in a single syllable.

It has something of a reputation for provincialism, particularly regarding its coverage of the The London Underground; big news stories will be pushed off the front page in favor of the latest on the ongoing Tube strike. It's also obsessed with the evils of squatting.

Politically, it's fairly right-wing; it played a key role in the election of Boris Johnson as mayor of London (hence its nickname "the Evening Boris"). This is largely because it has a particular hatred of the other candidate, incumbent Ken Livingstone; he likened one of their reporters to a concentration camp guard, and the whole thing exploded into a big scandal. It also supported Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith in the 2016 mayoral election, to the point of reproducing his press releases more or less verbatim; here, they were less successful, as Goldsmith lost to Labour's Sadiq Khan.

It's owned by Evgeny Lebedev, who purchased it from Associated Newspapers for a single pound; this only served to make it even more right-wing than before. It also gives Lebedev's TV station London Live priority in its TV listings (ahead of even The BBC), in spite of it having, as Private Eye put it, slightly less viewers than the Yeti.

First News - 39,450 copies per week

First News 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.

    Red-Top Tabloids 

The Sun - 1,978,702 copies per day

Russell Howard on a typical edition

The Sun is one of the most (in)famous papers in Britain. It's also known as "the Currant Bun" (from Cockney rhyming slang) or "the Scum" (if you're feeling less charitable). It's famous for the Page Three Stunna, a collection of topless women on the third page; although it's not the only tabloid to do so, it's easily the most famous. It's thus essentially using topless women to sell propaganda. It quietly stopped in 2015, largely because the competition for ogling women was overwhelming... oh, and increased political correctness.

It's solidly right-wing politically. It has a populist working-class bent and presents itself as standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the common man, often unconvincingly. Surprisingly, though, it did support Labour in 1997, 2001, and 2005, even as it spent much of this period attacking the party in its editorials. One theory for this is that the paper doesn't want to be seen as backing a loser, while another suggests that its owner Rupert Murdoch is trying to get British media ownership regulations relaxed.

Notorious former editor Kelvin MacKenzie best described 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 list of people who loathe the Sun basically encompasses everybody not in that description. In spite of this, the Sun is the best-selling paper in the British isles and the tenth most popular worldwide.

The ink comes off on your hands. It uses Bold Inflation a LOT. It... look, this Billy Bragg song, Never Buy The Sun tells you most of what you need to know. But if we're being specific:
  • Perhaps the Sun's most infamous story revolved around the Hillsborough disaster, a stampede at a football match in 1989 that killed 96 Liverpool supporters. They suggested that other Liverpool fans were responsible for it, when it was really caused by horrendous crowd control (and the assumption that the victims were hooligans themselves, which led police to force them back into the crowd when they tried to escape onto the field). They also accused Liverpool fans of attacking first responders and desecrating/looting corpses. It was so offensive that nobody in Liverpool will carry the Sun to this day. Not Liverpool supporters, not people who don't care about football, not fans of Liverpool's bitter crosstown rivals Everton — nobody (actually there is a lifetime ban for the paper to report at Anfield). The story was largely the brainchild of then-editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who was such a newsroom tyrant that nobody — even those within the Sun who could have seen this coming — could talk him down. MacKenzie apologized, but later recanted claiming Rupert Murdoch pressured him to do so. An inquest in April 2016 finally concluded that it was indeed poor policing and crowd control that led to the disaster, and it opened up enough evidence that victims' families are considering suing News Corporation for their shoddy reporting.
  • It thinks very poorly of Romani and Irish Travellers, as evidenced by its "Stamp on the Camp" campaign to have these communities reclassified as some sort of infestation.
  • The Sun is well-known for its creative (and often infamous) headlines:
  • A particularly dangerous article suggested in its headline "STRAIGHT SEX CANNOT GIVE YOU AIDS". One journalism professor labeled this the worst newspaper article in British history, even beating out the Hillsborough lies. The headline, lest anyone need reminding, is patently untrue and sort of thing can actively endanger the readership's lives.
  • It subscribes to the belief that video games are evil; it blames violent video games such as Call of Duty for pretty much any real-life shooting you'd care to name. It caught particular flack for blaming the Sandy Hook shooting in the US on Call of Duty: Black Ops, despite elsewhere rating the game positively and making that article a front-page spread, essentially making money off of dead children.

The Daily Mirror - 992,235 copies a day

Spokesman for the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, during the paper's finest hour and sacking of its least-regarded editor.

The Daily Mirror is a generally left-wing tabloid, though as a populist paper it can veer to the right on isues like crime. Ironically, it was founded as a conservative stable-mate of the Daily Mail (to the extent of supporting Oswald Mosley); it turned to its current ideology in the 1930s. It was a genuinely good investigative newspaper which ran many acclaimed campaigns and perpectives; the great John Pilger was one of its leading lights. And then crooked businessman and financier Robert Maxwell got hold of it, and the old left-wing spirit was emasculated.

The paper then passed into the hands of decidedly right-wing editor and publisher David "Rommel" Montgomery, who took over after Maxwell's suicide and was already famous for helming the defunct (and slavishly pro-Thatcher) newspaper Today. A bitter joke among old Mirror hands goes, "I thought a leader called Monty was supposed to be on our side."

Post-Montgomery, the paper has made vague efforts towards claiming back its left-wing credentials, including rehiring Pilger to report on the Iraq War and being the only national paper that supported the Labour Party in the tail-end of Gordon Brown's premiership.

Among its famous transgressions:
  • The Mirror has a long and odd history of enmity with Private Eye, in spite of them not taking anybody in the media particularly seriously. The Mirror would devote vast resources to the "battle", suing the magazine and its editor Ian Hislop for £225,000 (about half a million 2013 pounds); Hislop famously snarked about giving "a fat cheque to a fat Czech" (Maxwell having been born in Czechoslovakia). It even called Hislop's vicar asking for "dirt". The most they could dig up were invented stories about Hislop's alleged "chronic piles" and "weird obsession with tangerines".
  • Its most famous editor, Piers Morgan, was sacked over faked pictures of abuse in Iraq. He had long been a target of ridicule (including from Private Eye, who always called him some variant of "Piers Moron"), and he wound up being banished to America to be an anchor on CNN. The vicious Iraq War coverage led to people spitting on soldiers in the street before the pictures were exposed as false; the military has lost all respect for the Mirror, but they generally don't think of it as worth really attacking. As the Queen's Lancashire Regiment put it:
    This regiment has taken on Louis XIV, Napoleon, the Kaiser, and Hitler. I doubt Piers Morgan will detain us long.note 
  • It notably "mentioned the war" in the run-up to the Euro '96 semifinal between England and Germany, going so far as to go on an extended riff about "declaring football war" on Germany. It didn't work, as England lost in pretty heartbreaking fashion. The superstitious consider that a jinx.
  • It was interestingly founded as a "paper for women", and it's trying to rediscover that niche, to the point that generally about half of its content it aimed specifically at women, with the remainder (barring the sports pages) being largely gender-neutral. The exception is Saturday and Monday, which is largely dedicated to football anyway.

The Daily Star - 625,246 copies a day

Every Star Headline Ever

The Daily Star, like the Daily Express, is a Desmond title. It's got more tits and less news than the Sun, and it's essentially a daily gossip magazine. It admittedly makes things up. If the Express is "the Mail off its meds", the Star is "the Express's special little brother off its meds" — it's so racist and homophobic that it's cozied up to the far-right, Muslim-baiting English Defence League on several occasions. One reporter quit after being instructed to "wrap himself around" a group of women in burqas wearing nothing but his underwear.

It's infamous for its misleading headlines:
  • "JORDAN IN NEW CANCER SCARE! Shock Diagnosis for Kate and her Family!" was only about the fact that Ms. Price's boyfriend uses fake tan, which might cause cancer.
  • "JORDAN CELEBRATES HOT BABY NEWS" had little to do with her pregnancy but a lot to do with the Star's obsession with her.
  • "TERROR AS PLANE HITS ASH CLOUDS" was entirely fictional and illustrated with an image from a documentary.note 
  • "ROYAL BABY ON WAY" didn't have anything to do with William and Kate's actual children; it came right after they were married and revealed oh-so-startlingly that now that they were married, they might choose to conceive a child.
  • "DEAD FANS ROBBED BY DRUNK THUGS" had to do with the Hillsborough disaster that cost the Sun its Liverpool circulation. It was just as outrageous, but unlike the Sun, they never really followed up on that (actually, the paper's circulation is mostly limited to —certain parts of— Metropolitan London). However, the paper is not allowed to report at Anfield forever, not unlike the Sun.
  • "BORING OLD GITS TO WED", referring to Prince Charles' engagement to Camilla Parker-Bowles. Actually Pretty Funny if you don't care about gossip at all.
  • "PERV SPOOF BOSSES AXE WRESTLING", right next to a headline ogling the breasts of singer Charlotte Church. Who was 15 at the time. It proved Chris Morris completely right in the aftermath of a certain special episode of Brass Eye.

That's when it's not making up bullshit and presenting it as news - as happened in 2010 when it printed "news" that Rockstar Games were making a Grand Theft Auto game based on that year's shootings in Northumbria, including soliciting comments from his victims but not Rockstar Games. Who then successfully sued them for damages.

The Communists — 10,000 per day, 150,000 in its 1940s heyday.

The Communists are a notoriously fractious bunch, and as such they have a number of their own newspapers which may or may not still exist:
  • The Morning Star is nominally affiliated with the British Communist Party (well, whichever one still exists); however, it aims for a broader audience than the radical left. It was formerly known as The Daily Worker and jumped ship from a previous Communist Party right as it collapsed during The Great Politics Mess-Up. It's one of the few daily Communist papers, and it's got the highest circulation among them — which isn't saying much.
  • The News Line, the daily paper of the far-Trotskyist Workers' Revolutionary Party, is a unique far-left daily. It's largely considered unreadable because of its impenetrable jargon. Its sports pages are quite good, though; its horse racing guide was even better than most mainstream papers.
  • Most far-left papers are weekly rather than daily, and they're usually only sold in the street by supporters of the groups that print them. Examples include the Socialist Worker (bitter enemies of News Line), Militant, and the Worker's Hammer.
  • Class War is a weekly Anarchist paper with a miniscule circulation. Its only claim to fame is a single headline which quintupled its sales, regarding the birth of Prince William: "ANOTHER FUCKING ROYAL PARASITE IS BORN!"

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

The Daily Sport is pure Male Gaze. It's the equivalent of the US National Enquirer. It superficially resembles the Sun, Mirror, and Star, but it contains almost nothing that is normally thought of as news. It's so downtrodden as a paper that Googling its title gets you the Star's website instead. After a single brush with bankruptcy, the daily edition of this organ of the press (which organ is best left to the imagination) has ceased publication, although the Sunday Sport and a midweek version remain in circulation.

Its typical fare includes stories of 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. When an astronomer called them to say that he had a telescope pointed at the moon which couldn't pick up a bomber, the headline the next day was: "World War II Bomber On Moon Vanishes!"

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 News of the World was another Murdoch paper, formerly published weekly on Sunday. It was usually thought of as the "Sunday Sun", and in terms of content they were almost exactly the same. It was otherwise known as "News of the Screws" or "Screws of the World". This was traditionally the newspaper of choice for wrapping fish and chips (before the practice was stopped as a health hazard).

It was brought down in 2011 when the Guardian discovered that it had hacked the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and deleted messages from her voicemail, giving her family hope that she might still be alive. The fallout from this led to the resignation of several high-ranking officials in the government and the London Metropolitan Police. It also scuttled Rupert Murdoch's bit to acquire the BSkyB network and led to a long inquiry and discussion over ethics in tabloid journalism.

The People — 594,552 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 "Moron" Morgan, during a heated conflict with Alastair Campbell over perceived anti-Labour bias at the Mirror.

  • The People is a Sunday-only 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 pornographic connotations. Somehow, though, it's still going after 130 years. It's notorious for Bait and Switch front pages involving celebrities' "lady bits", usually purporting to show a photograph of national celebrities' "downstairs", and an article that winds up having only a tangential relationship to anything.

    Scottish Newspapers 

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; a centrist in London terms would be seen as rather right-wing in Scotland. This means that while The Sun is solidly Tory in the rest of the UK, the Scottish edition now maintains an uncomfortable neutrality, even going as far as backing the SNP rather than the Tories in the 2015 election. 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. Historically supported Labour, although was anti-war in Iraq. Sunday edition is called The Sunday Herald, which is strongly in favour of Scottish independence, to the extent of sometimes being overwhelmingly biased. By contrast, The Herald itself is against it.
  • 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. The Sunday edition is called Scotland on Sunday. It came out against Scottish independence.
  • The Daily Record: Scottish tabloid, published in Glasgow. Also known as "the Daily Weegie", "The Daily Rangers", and "The Daily Retard". 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 it is now independently owned. A cut-down version is sold in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, with a small amount of region-specific exclusive content in each edition. The Sunday edition is The Sunday Mail, which is more leftist and is the biggest selling Sunday paper in Scotland.
  • 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. Infamously supported Donald Trump's controversial Aberdeen golf course, to the point of calling councillors who voted against it "traitors". Private Eye has observed the interesting coincidence that the editor's wife was Trump's vice president in charge of the development.
  • 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.
  • The National: A more recent newspaper, established in late 2014 as a pro-independence newspaper. Sister paper to the Herald and Sunday Herald, but quite clearly modelled after the latter in terms of both presentation and editorial stance. In line with most things in post-referendum Scotland, the response has been... mixed, if Scottish social media is anything to go by. Known for its mocking front pages (often involving Photoshop of varying quality) and some of its columnists' use of Meaningless Meaningful Words. Nicknamed "The Nat Onal" because of its Lucky Charms Title. Dismissed by Private Eye as an "SNP fanzine".

    Northern Ireland 

Most English papers sell specific Irish editions in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland. These range from near-identical to the English versions (the Irish Sun) to substantially different (the Irish Daily Star, which is much less interested in celebrities and cares a lot more about Irish politics. However, some papers you'll find only in Ireland:

  • 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.
  • 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. In spite of this, it's 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.


Freesheets are tabloid-sized newspapers available for 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 is the biggest and 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 its content is an obsession over The X Factor, reality TV, and pop music. For many years it printed Nemi before dumping all its comic strips as a cost-saving measure and, on Fridays, still publishes a column by comedian Richard Herring, leading to much Just Here for Godzilla sentiment.
  • 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.

    News and Political Magazines 
  • The Spectator is 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. It is perhaps the last holdout of the "old fogey" who hates modern music and this scruffy rock 'n' roll and these awful films. It has weekly features on classical music, opera, theatre, and poetry, contrasted with minimal token coverage of everything else. That said, they also have more liberal contributors like Nick Cohen in the mix.
  • New Statesman is 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 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 is 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 (in the US it tends to fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum). It got its dream-government in the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, which it frequently 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 is a 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 is 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"). It's responsible for most of the nicknames of the other papers you see here. It also uses the anonymity of its journalists and its status as a "not-quite-proper" news magazine to insert plenty of little teasers about stories the Eye doesn't have enough to support in a court of law, usually in the hope of spooking the subjects or getting more informants.
    • It has a slightly split personality. The news pages tend to be quite left-of-centre (they even co-sponsor an investigative journalism prize with the Guardian), although it doesn't hesitate to attack Labour whenever possible (old conflicts between Hislop and the party). The cultural coverage, meanwhile, tends to "all modern art is a con trick and all pop culture is trash" conservatism. More generally, it can be seen as anti-Establishment, which in political terms means anti-right and in cultural terms means conservative.
    • 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 magazine generally dislikes the American government, and often criticizes it for its actions in Guantanamo and in the Chagos Islands (notably, it is equally —if not more— critical of the British government and military, not to mention the Royals... or Scottish nationalism), 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."
    • Famous for its enormous collection of in-jokes, both in terms of the actual content of the magazine (various euphemisms are used, as well as a seeming obsession with the number "94") and in meta-terms. Political insiders report that the Eye normally carries as much news in its joke pages as it does in its news ones, for those in the know.
  • The Big Issue is a 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.
  • Prospect is a 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. It does print notable leftist Nick Cohen, however.
  • Spiked, formerly Living Marxism, was created out of the wreckage of that magazine after they falsely accused ITN of inventing Serbian death camps during the Bosnian War. It began as a broadly left-wing but anti-state magazine, but now seems to get a kick out of saying the opposite of everyone else and essentially dressing up hard-right libertarianism as "revolutionary defeatism" and "anti-state Marxism". Others have said it has no ideology beyond contrarianism, to the point where it endorsed people's "right to view" child pornography during the paedo-panic in the 1990s then reversed course in the 2000s to take a very conservative line on sexual matters, campaigning against gay marriage and the existence of transgender people (they're all just mad, apparently).
  • New Internationalist is an alternative magazine based in Oxford with a circulation of 75,000, though with a larger presence online. Since its founding in 1973, it has stayed the course in its focus on promoting global justice and activism. It is also in ways a product of its time (and staff), with a particularly libertarian-socialist and fervently environmentalist slant in its reporting.

There you go, then. This is why so many Brits just get their news from topical quiz shows instead.