• Ella Hird

UK Media, Explained

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

Confused about the differences between tabloid and broadsheet? Which paper is left wing or right wing? Ella brings clarity to the topic in this cheat sheet.


graphic of the Uk media, explained


Tabloid or broadsheet?


Tabloid newspapers are smaller papers with lots of images. The content concentrates on celebrities and sensational news.


Broadsheets are full sized ‘quality’ newspapers providing longer stories with greater analysis and background.


A compact newspaper is a broadsheet quality paper printed in a tabloid format.


Newspapers vary in quality; this is judged on their content and accuracy, with the Mail and the Sun perceived to be the lowest quality.



Bias


Media bias is the political leaning of journalists and news producers concerning the selection of events and stories and how they are presented.


Journalists may write in a certain style to sway the audience or accentuate certain facts. It is impossible to report everything so stories and facts are carefully selected.


Government censorship controls media reporting in countries such as North Korea.


Political bias has always been an issue in the mass media. The most common media bias is when a news outlet supports or attacks a political party, candidate or ideology.


A few billionaires, who have huge influence over the content published, own much of the UK media. Outlined below are the owners of each newspaper.



Broadsheets


The Daily Telegraph

Founded in 1855 - Owned by David and Frederick Barclay

  • The Telegraph is a politically conservative (right-wing) quality newspaper.

  • It has adopted a hard right stance on Brexit and immigration.

  • It has been the first newspaper to report on a number of notable issues, in particular the 2009 MPs expenses scandal.


Compacts


The Times

Founded in 1780 - Owned by Rupert Murdoch

  • The Times is perceived as slightly right of centre.

  • The newspaper is one of the more reliable news sources.


The Guardian

Founded in 1821- Owned by Scott Trust Ltd

  • The Guardian has been rated the highest quality newspaper by Ofcom (a media regulator) but has one of the lowest monthly readerships.

  • The Guardian is one of the most left-wing newspapers, supporting left-leaning policies and ideas.


Online


BBC News

Founded in 1922 - Public owned

  • BBC News must be mentioned as another media outlet.

  • The BBC tries to be politically neutral, but is often perceived to be biased one way or another by the majority.

  • Most people consider the BBC as an accurate and trustworthy news source.

  • The BBC Charter requires the BBC to do all it can to ensure subjects are treated with impartiality in its news coverage.


The Independent

Founded in 1986 - Owned by Alexander & Evgeny Lebedev

  • It was intended to be a centrist newspaper. However, it is now seen as left wing, with its main competition being The Guardian.

  • The Independent takes a liberal, pro market stance on economic issues meaning it supports free market policies (competition, no/little government control).


Tabloids


The Daily Mail

Founded in 1896 - Owned by Lord Rothermere

  • In June this year, The Daily Mail overtook The Sun as the best-selling newspaper.

  • It is criticised for its unreliability and has been accused of institutional racism, sexist coverage, and creating scare stories.

  • Daily Mail is seen as Britain’s most right-wing newspaper. It uses loaded language, which is often brash and exaggerated.

  • It is one of the lowest quality newspapers and its reliability is highly questionable - yet it has the highest monthly readership!


The Daily Express

Founded in 1918 - Owned by Richard Desmond

  • A middle-market tabloid paper, covering entertainment and important news events.

  • Seen as hard right, often aligning with UKIP and Euroscepticism.


The Sun

Founded in 1964 - Owned by Rupert Murdoch

  • A right wing newspaper that is supportive of the Conservative party.

  • It is perceived as an unintellectual newspaper with stories often lacking accurate sources and based on hearsay accounts.

  • An infamous example of this was the newspaper’s coverage of the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath.

  • The Sun is a low quality newspaper but had the highest monthly readership in 2019


The Daily Mirror

Founded in 1903 - Owned by Trinity Mirror

  • The Mirror is a left wing newspaper and one of the only national newspapers to support Labour consistently.

  • It is strongly anti-Brexit.

  • It uses loaded words and pictures trying to influence the audience using emotion and stereotypes.


For more on media and misinformation, visit our insightful Fake News & the Role of the Media section.

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