INTRODUCTION: News, newspapers and society
DOI link for INTRODUCTION: News, newspapers and society
INTRODUCTION: News, newspapers and society book
Newspapers have always played an important role in the lives of British people. More newspapers are bought per capita in Britain than in most other countries. In Europe, only the Scandinavians are more committed to reading newspapers. British newspapers are best sellers, with the Sun,Mirror,Mail, Express, Telegraph and Star among the top ten of Europe’s most read newspapers. They excite the passions of British people. For a long time they have played ‘an important part in cultural and political life by informing, entertaining, exasperating, delighting and infuriating their readers’.2 While newspaper reading is currently in decline, it has been a ‘major time-consuming activity’ for most people over the last hundred years or so.3 As leisure hours increased so did the time people spent consuming their newspapers. Historically the newspaper was used to ﬁll additional free time, whether travelling to work on the train, bus or tube or accompanying a cup of tea or coffee or even a cigarette. People have also accessed other popular pastimes such as sport through newspapers, and surveys have found that newspaper reading has until recently been seen as a ‘status conferring activity’. Reading a newspaper, it was believed, made people ‘better informed’, ‘more up-to-date’ or ‘more enlightened’.4 Those who did not read daily papers were often seen as uninformed or ‘stupid’, although readers of the Sun have been subject to similar ridicule, usually from middle-class comedians and commentators. Newspapers are subject to conﬂicting views about their cultural and political value: at certain times they have been seen as midwives to democracy in Britain; at other times they have been accused of debasing political, ethical and moral standards. However the British newspaper is regarded, it has been a matter for argument and disagreement throughout its history.