I’m a British news convert. I’ve always read the news, whether in print format or online – but I’ve noticed a difference in presentation, so I tend to stick to British sources now, rather than US papers and websites. I suppose that’s partly due to my location, but in this digital age there’s nothing stopping me from clicking over to CNN more often or even Fox (sure, that’ll happen). Televised British news seems so much less sensationalist and so much more impartial – It’s still more about the News and less about vicarious horror-tainment or getting your Five-Minute-Hate going. If I wanted that I’d read Stephen King or George Orwell. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is my personal preference if I’m on the net or if I’m watching the Evening News. But I think even ITV and Channel 4 are reasonably impartial in their reporting.
I remember when I first moved to the UK, how I was struck by the absence of a constant single-story feeding frenzy. In the US, if there’s a huge news story, it’ll be televised on all the channels, most of the time, regurgitated and re-analyzed, ad nauseam, until the public is thoroughly desensitized to the original, often tragic, event. I have not seen this happen in the UK since I’ve lived here, and certainly hope that this abstinence from repetition continues.
Most Americans are familiar with the BBC, or the Beeb, as it’s sometimes fondly called. But they may not be as familiar with British newspapers – I wasn’t before I moved to the UK. So I’ve decided to post a run-down of the major British newspapers and tabloids. This list is not at all exhaustive. I’m sure I’ll offend the Scots and Welsh and Irish among you by completely omitting your regional papers. Not to mention the Northerners who might read the Manchester Evening News. But I know even less about these publications than I do about the ones I’ve listed below… and the list was getting way too long anyway! How much do you expect me to write on this topic?!
There are also a plethora of local newspapers in Britain, some of which have been around a very long time. These can be invaluable for local historians and genealogists. Usually, local libraries hold copies of these on microfilm. Yet another reason it’s important for libraries to remain open.
In the UK it is customary to pay a visit to your local Newsagent to buy a newspaper, along with your Jelly Babies, and Yorkie and Dairy Milk bars. If you want a paper delivered to your door, you’d also go through the neighbourhood Newsagent, who’d take care of the daily delivery. I am told that this service is becoming more rare – which maybe doesn’t bode well for the newspaper business. People are lazy. If they don’t have papers delivered to their doors, they will use the internet and television to get their news. Heck, I do. On the up side, I never get pestered to take out newspaper subscriptions, like I did in the States.
Again, I’m going to focus on major newspapers and Tabloids here – ones available in print – not just online. And I’ll avoid mention of glossies/magazines, such as the venerable Economist. Oops – I just did. Print media has had a tough time all over in the last several years, but is still hanging on in the UK. Newspapers and tabloids are National Institutions – like so many other things in Britain. The British seem to love their scandals and rows, which give the papers plenty to be outraged about.
Of course every source has its own angle and political leanings. Using immigration as an example, here is my take on what those leanings might be:
The Guardian: Immigrants have rights, and here is all the data supporting that, so that you can intelligently decide that Polish builders and people of colour are probably no threat to you, and we can all live in harmony in this Great multicultural nation.
The Times: Immigration policy should change; the government does its best to make sure this is an equal-opportunity country for all, but it’s a crowded little island and people should stop coming here. We have faith that a cooler head will prevail; but we would prefer it if the Cool Head were a Conservative.
The Financial Times: Immigrants are probably detrimental to the country’s economy; or maybe they’re more profitable than we think. We will analyse and editorialize this for you on pink paper.
The Telegraph: We are benevolent towards the immigrants who bring valuable services to our country. But enough’s enough. Now we should consider immigration quotas and maybe the immigrants already here should all go home. Perhaps we can deport them.
The Independent: All this talk about immigrants taking your jobs is scare-mongering. Immigrants bring money and skills, and are not responsible for all the terrible stuff for which they’re blamed. Still, immigration reform is an important issue.
The Evening Standard: We will tell you that immigrants might be taking your jobs, and do it in a cost-free, London-cenric way.
The Daily Mail: We will all be murdered in our beds, and it will most likely be an immigrant who wields the cleaver. Furthermore, government incompetence is responsible for this butchery.
The Daily Express: Immigrants are taking your jobs, many of them are Muslim, and it is the EU’s fault. Foreigners generally shouldn’t be trusted anyway.
The Metro: Here’s a story about an immigrant who saved a pedestrian who was about to be run over. But we know you don’t have much time to read it, because you’re using public transport, so we’ll keep it short.
The Daily Mirror: It is possible that immigrants are taking your jobs, but Labour leadership will do better than the Tories at preventing this. Anyway, wouldn’t you rather read about footballers and celebrities?
The Daily Star: Immigrants are taking your jobs, but to console you, here are some naked girls in full colour!
The Sun: Immigrants are taking your jobs, but more importantly, there’s a girl with big tits on Page Three!
It can be both fun and educational to read from a source that’s different to what you might be used to. We have the advantage of speaking a language that is used all over the world to relay a myriad of opinions and ideas. Why just read or listen to American (or insert any other nationality here) news? Isn’t that a bit ethnocentric or nationalistic? Or at times even xenophobic?