Brits - Explain the English newspapers

I’ve been watching a lot of British tv off a torrent site [relax, it’s all stuff you can’t get in California], and there are mentions of newspapers with lots of winking implications of the character or inclinations of the readers or editors.

Are most English papers available throughout the country? It’s a “small” country from my point of view, but obviously even in Florida the Miami papers are easily available in the panhandle.

What is the best selling paper? Why?

Are there admitted slants in the editorial staffs, or only observed ones, like here with Fox News? It won’t admit it’s right wing, but it clearly is, and I say that as someone who’s never voted Democrat. (No, I don’t watch it.)

Could you pick a paper or two and give the standard take on the character/slant/bent/style of the content? All I get are little hints like Jeremy Clarkson joking that all BBC newsreaders do is read out the Guardian and go home. I don’t know what that means.

Oh, and as an aside, are major news program hosts/anchors not seen as real journalists? American anchors for major networks would be insulted if you implied they just read off the script.

Sorry: obviously even in Florida the Miami papers aren’t easily available in the panhandle.

The national papers are available throughout the country but we also have local papers that aren’t.

I believe The Sun is the most popular “newspaper” probably due to page 3 ( and celebrity gossip.

The Guardian (and some say the BBC) are left of centre while Clarkson’s views are to the right.

This site appears to give the political bias of British papers.

I’m not English (or British :slight_smile: ) but I will try to address your questions.

There are various papers distributed throughout the UK (most of which are available in the Republic of Ireland also). Some of these have regional editions, others contain the same editorial across their catchment. So for example, there’s the Scottish Sun, and the Irish Sun, which use much of the editorial from the Sun but also has local content.

There are plenty of papers that mainly have national or regional appeal. The Scotsman, the Belfast Telegraph, The Irish News, The Belfast Newsletter, The London Evening Standard, and there are numerous other regional papers.

The Sun, by the way is the best selling paper in the UK, a tabloid. I imagine it is the most popular because it purveys lowest common denominator celebrity news and sensationalist, populist reports.

For quality newspapers, there’s the likes of the Guardian, which is all-but avowedly leftwing in editorial style. A stereotype of a Guardian reader would be a sandal-wearing, bearded, granola eater.

It’s rightwing equivalents would be The Telegraph (aka the Torygraph) and the Daily Mail. I don’t know to what extent these are avowedly rightwing but they are fairly consistent in their outlooks. The Daily Mail is seen as a receptacle of Little Englander values and NIMBYism.

TBH, I’m not too clear on where The (London) Times or The Independent fit into the spectrum.

These are my understandings of how the various papers work but I am talking from abroad so some of what I have said may be inaccurate.

Why after all this Anglophilia have I never heard of The Gazette? It’s almost a stereotypcial paper name here, which might appear in movies as a fictional paper (or maybe The Herald). Why does this fly so much more below the radar?

I’m not an expert, but I know enough to give you a flavour:

The Guardian: left-leaning, pro-environment, vocal about human rights abuse and social inequality, pro-immigration.
The Independent: the newer Guardian upstart; also left-leaning, but perhaps not quite as much as the Guardian.
The Times: right-leaning, generally seen as an upper class preserve, pro-business.
The Financial Times: also right-leaning, more focussed on (obviously) finance and industry.
The Sun: “lower class”; heavy celebrity and sensationalist news focus, anti-immigration, anti-government.

The larger dailies like the ones listed above are easily available throughout the country, and there are of course many more newspapers, some very local and others more widely available.

I think most papers have an observed as well as a stated political stance. For example, the Guardian is clearly slanted towards the left, and this is openly admitted by their editorial staff:

The hilarious political sitcom Yes, Prime Minister has an excellent summary of newspapers and their readers:,_Minister

The Wiki articles on the various newspapers in that link have a short summary of the editorial stance and political leanings of the various papers.

I’ve seen all the Yes, Prime Minister episodes at least twice, but those pithy summarizations just don’t really explain it. Thanks for the help with your own work.

IMHO The Times is suffering from Murdoch’s influence, but I can’t put my finger on exactly how. The Independent tries to be just that, but it’s moniker isn’t The Indescribablyboring for nothing.

However, Jim Hacker nails it. Note that the Independent had not then been launched.

Edit: Bah, Ninja’d by Devorin; I shouldn’t have paused to watch.

Guardian reader’ is the nearest British equivalent of ‘liberal’.

Daily Mail readers are frequently seen as ‘little fascists’, obsessed with the value of their houses, the sort who would cheerfully support capital punishment with public hanging, flog criminals, repatriate all immigrants, forcibly or otherwise and gravitate towards Mosley’s party if Mosley was still in business. It’s enemies frequently point to its proprietor, the 1st Lord Rothermere (d.1939)'s [brief] support for Mosley’s Blackshirts in the Thirties. It’s nickname is the Daily Heil.

The anchorman is just the anchorman. None of them pretend to any great journalistic abilities and some of them haven’t even been reporters in the past, or didn’t make their mark if they did.

The Times used to be the ‘journal of record’, advertising itself as ‘top people read the Times’ but has gone down market since the 1970s because it couldn’t survive on that readership alone. Since captured by Rupert Murdoch it’s reputation has declined.

The Telegraph is seen as the house journal of the Tory Party, it’s readers ageing, conservative (or Conservative), even reactionary, against Britain’s continuing membership of the EU .

The Daily Mirror is the Left-version of the Sun, without the tits on Page Three which they eschewed some years ago. It invariably supports the Labour Party, though not uncritically.

The Daily Express used to be the paper for the working man who votes Tory, but has changed its political allegiance (and its ownership) several times in recent years

All of these national newspapers, which circulate throughout the country in editions which might trim local news coverage to the region somewhat but essentially unchanged, are collectively ‘Fleet Street’ although none of them actually have their offices in Fleet Street anymore, the move out having begun in the 1980s.

None of the papers pretend to objectivity in their news coverage - indeed no paper can hope to survive on straight news reporting in the internet age. You buy one because it agrees with your political prejudices.

The Sun’s declared political stance has wavered in recent years. Until the Blair government, the editorials were pro-Conservative. At the 1997 election it announced with some fanfare that --gasp!-- it recommended voting Labour. But recently it has declared that is a pro-Tory paper again. At times, politicians do seem a little too concerned about which way the top-selling newspapers are going to lean, particularly the Sun as the biggest selling paper. In the 1992 election it famously crowed “It’s The Sun Wot Won It” on the front page, when the Conservatives won despite everybody expecting a Labour victory.

Most of the other papers have open political leanings in their editorial and opinion pieces, while their reporting is less obviously biased, at least among the more serious papers (Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Indy). The bias there is more what they choose to report than how they report it.

Except The Sun still struggles in Liverpool.

My personal favourite newspaper when I was a UK resident was London Lite. Seriously, it made a lot more scense then the major papers. But then after a day studying to be a Barrister, when the Lib only ever stocked the Times and the Daily Tory…er Telegraph, perhaps finding out about celeb scandals was a relief.

Re anchors, the ones who just read the bulletins are just that, newsreaders more than journalists. But on the BBC news analysis show Newsnight, the anchors are more editorially involved, and administer stern grillings to politicians and other public figures of the day. Jeremy Paxman is the most well-known, and feared, Newsnight presenter.

Over on Channel 4, the evening news bulletin is perhaps more analytical than those of other channels. It’s lead presenter is Jon Snow, and it is not difficult to detect a left-of-centre leaning in both him and the programme overall. Or maybe that’s just me. News bulletins on other channels are pretty straight-down-the-middle impartial.

I’m not sure what you’re referring to-- there is no national paper called The Gazette. There are many local papers with “Gazette” in the name.

In case you didn’t know, this is why.

Oh, I see: This is the only major one I can find.

It is worth noting that the FT is very self-consciously international in its focus and leanings (pro-Europe and integration, which traditionally would give the ordinary Tory a heart-attack), and while pro-business and industry, is liberal in its outlook (or libertarian if you will, without the American paranoid implications).

A lot of people have summarized the papers, but no one seems to have given the major distinctions yet: there are national and local papers. But as you say, because the country’s so small, everyone basically just reads the national papers. The national newspapers are usually split into Broadsheets and Tabloids. Broadsheets are basically “good” newspapers, which are more expensive and used to have double-sized pages (some have shrunk down recently), whereas tabloids are dumbed-down, cheap and have lots of celebrity news, scandals, etc. These are the four major broadsheets, and I’ll mention what they’d get a “wink” reference for on British TV:

  1. The Times - the oldest newspaper in the UK, centre-to-right leaning, I think it’s the best British newspaper. The only real problem for me is that it’s owned by Rupert Murdoch, whose Sky company is in direct competition with the BBC, so it’s constantly and irritatingly biased against the BBC. On the whole The Times probably wouldn’t get a “wink” reference for anything though). Highest readership out of of the broadsheets, about 300,000 people per day buy it.

  2. The Guardian - liberal by British standards; very liberal by US standards. They tend to support trade unions, stories about the environment, human rights, etc. There’s a common joke about “Guardian readers” in this country as being namby-pamby, holier-than-thou Middle Class liberals - vegans who always do the recycling, complain about the rights of animals, etc. It’s a good paper on the whole though.

  3. The Daily Telegraph - the conservative, right-wing broadsheet (although by US standards it’s probably fairly moderate). There’s jokes about them being biased towards the Conservative party - when the Conservative leader David Cameron cited a Telegraph story in Parliament last year the Labour party burst out laughing at the mention of the name. Again it’s a good paper but it does tend to whinge about things like immigration, taxes, Britain losing its traditional values or losing its status as a Christian country, etc. It would get “wink” references on TV for its readership being right-wing - people who are too classy to read the Daily Mail tabloid but nevertheless share the same views.

  4. The Independent - another liberal paper. I have to say I never really read it, it just doesn’t interest me. It has a reputation for being boring or irrelevant: instead of running news as a headline, it’ll often run a “special edition” about the environment or something. It has the smallest readership of the broadsheets and there’s a decent chance it could shut down soon.
    Then there’s the tabloids:

  5. The Sun: The classic working-class paper. Clever puns as headlines, dumbed-down writing and topless girls on Page 3. It’s actually quite enjoyable to read as far as tabloids go. It’s the most popular daily newspaper, about 1 million people buy it each day if I remember correctly.

  6. Daily Mail: the most right-wing UK paper. It gets “wink” references for being racist among other things (it’s actually nowhere near as bad as its reputation).

  7. News of the World: a generic tabloid. Would get “wink” references for making up stories.

  8. Daily Express: generic tabloid, takes one story and runs with it for years. They had Princess Diana headlines at least once a month for 10 years after her death. A year after Madeleine McCann’s disappearance they ran headlines about her on 30 out of 31 days in October, despite there not being any actual news. The courts made them apologize and pay the family compensation.

  9. Daily Mirror: a left-wing tabloid.

Those last 3 tabloids would get “wink” references for being terrible newspapers who make things up and play to the stereotypes of their audiences. Which I would say is about accurate.

Actually, circulation figures are roughly as follows:

Telegraph 750K
Times 550K
Guardian 300K
Independent 200K
(there is some dispute over how freely-supplied copies distort these figures)

Sun 2,960K
Mail 2,150K
Mirror 1,260K
Express 730K

Wow, I didn’t remember correctly at all. So about an eighth of English adults buy either the Sun or the Daily Mail every morning? Christ… :slight_smile:

The News of the World is a Sunday-only tabloid that specializes in sex lives and indiscretions of celebrities (and others), hence is sometimes called “Screws of the World”.