English Newspapers: News, Nudes and Naughtiness...
All The News That's Fit To Print...
Being a good son, I call my mother fairly often. This is how I find out about what is going on in England, which is of course far more accurate than, say, the BBC World News or the Internet. This is because my mum reads the Daily Mail, and in her world there is no bias, no twisting of the truth, the Daily Mail is gospel.
Which is great for the Conservative Party and the Royal Family, because the Daily Mail loves them. Not in a, ‘Fox news, everything GOP is perfect, you’re either with us or an America-hating-commie-pinko,’ way (we have the Daily Telegraph for that), but a uniquely self-effacing nationalistic way.
There are principally two types of newspapers in England, populist (tabloids) and the heavies (broadsheets). The populist papers are physically smaller and are not too far from pure gossip. The “Heavies” take themselves very seriously indeed. The unspoken delineation, as to which paper you purchase, is one of class and upbringing.
Working class (oxymoron with over 10% unemployment…) Labor Party supporting, union supporting, men and women, read the Sun or the Star. The Sun, held this position solo for many years, but the upstart Star came in by limbo-ing under the shockingly low bar set by the “journalists” at the Sun. Slithering into the British consciousness by delivering more sleaze, more sex, more scandal, and more shock than it’s rival, it quickly became a player by never over-estimating the tastes of its readers. The Sun did not lie down and die. It sent it’s writers out into the underbelly of our great land with well padded checkbooks, and discovered all manner of naughtiness going on in modern Britain.
(If, dear reader, you are of a sensitive disposition and think England is one huge village with Miss Marple riding around on her bike, or just pretty castles and the like, you may wish to read no further. Buy some more of those cute little ceramic cottages and obtain all images of England directly from PBS.)
The Sun has for many years given the working man his daily eyeful of a young buxom lass with her kit off. (Topless photo of nubile wench…) This being on page three of the said publication, led to them being addressed, collectively, as the page three girls. Titillating (literally), but not exactly pornographic…
The Star responded with larger, younger, sexier…Oh yes, this is what passes for news in the British tabloids. On Sundays, the bar is further lowered by the News of The World. The world of who-is-doing-what-to-whom is explored in salacious detail, with accompanying out-of-focus photos. Oh, and the horse racing form for next week.
The Daily Mirror is an interesting beast, a little less salacious than the Star-Sun-News of the World, but not quite a serious newspaper. Down a, very small, notch from the Daily Mail, which is positively Victorian in comparison to the scandal sheets. It considers itself politically middle of the road, but leans rather more right than left. It loves scandal as much as the next chap, but has an air of prudishness that is both disturbing and charming. It believes it is relevant in today’s world and makes rather pompous statements that, if read correctly, are downright hilarious. All the tabloids offer garden center coupons, and fill their back pages with sport.
The last of the tabloids is one that would deny being one with its dying breath. The Telegraph is written for those who still think we have an Empire. (Or we bloody well should have...) It is right wing and obstructionist, and would love the GOP if it weren’t over in America. It staunchly denies that Britain is in Europe, and would be boring to read even if it contained a nubile lovely on every page.
The Telegraph believes it belongs as the conservative counterpart to the left leaning ‘heavy’, The Guardian. The Guardian is the darling of pinko liberals and in order to be taken very seriously indeed, has almost no photographs and very long-winded writing in tiny print. Along with the other ‘heavies’ (The Times and the Independent) it produces a paper on Sundays that consume entire forests each and every week. You literally need all of Sunday to read it. (These Sunday papers, and their much-vaunted supplements, are very popular with the homeless for their excellent insulating properties.)
The Independent is the newest of the ‘serious’ newspapers, and tries to balance the left and right politically, and sees itself as the voice of reason, pro European, pro American, pro gay rights, and an all around good chap. It is spectacularly PC, and manages, in a huge waterfall of words, to say absolutely nothing that could offend anyone. That is to say, it says nothing of any value at all.
Which brings us to the big daddy of them all. The Times. I have to disavow my American friends from committing the social faux pas of calling it the “London Times”. Any other ‘Times’ from anywhere other than London might need to add its location, but not the venerable, the original, (it would say, the only) Times. The Times is the paper of the establishment. It should be printed on paper made from the crushed stones of the Parliament building and Windsor Castle.
It is outrageously pompous, encouraging all who read it to look down on everyone around them. The most Times-y part of the Times is the editorial, followed closely by the letters to the editor. It speaks as if what it says actually matters, and manages to do it such an offhand way, as to annoy everyone not of the privileged classes.
It reports on the machinations of government with an insider’s familiarity that indicates that all concerned went to the same schools and had the same jolly good japes and wheezes, what-what…
And rounding out the rich landscape of English Newspapers is the Financial Times, which is printed on pink paper for some reason lost to the mists of time. It is, as the name suggests, the financial cousin of the Times. In this case the establishment is the moneymen of London. It is crushingly boring to read, as well as permanently depressing. Leaving us with the anachronistic “Racing Form”, a newspaper fully dedicated to gambling on Dogs and Horses.
One tiny island, so many ways to read all the news fit to twist. Oh how I miss them…
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