The Human Truth Foundation

Which are the Best and Worst Newspapers in the UK?

By Vexen Crabtree 2018


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#mass_media #newspapers #the_guardian #the_sun #UK #uk_newspapers #western_culture

UK popular newspapers are infamous for their daft stories, political bias, poor fact-checking and skewed reporting, combined with a concentration on celebrities and entertainment-value news. By comparing all newspapers to common criteria, including academic judgements of their quality and the number of complaints raised against them, it is possible to score each one of them. As a result of their low quality, only 7% of the population rate printed news as the best source of "accurate and reliable" information1, and across Europe the UK's written press is the least trusted, by a wide margin2. It is also clear that this problem is largely self-imposed - the lowest quality newspapers are some of the most popular, and the highest-quality ones rate as some of the least popular. The overall effect troubles British culture, creating a cycle of misinformation and there have been many calls for the UK government to regulate the industry using similar methods to those used in most of the rest of Europe. For now the only control is a self-regulation body (IPSO) which is staffed by the papers themselves and is widely considered dysfunctional.


1. Chart of Newspaper Popularity Against Quality3

#mass_media #newspapers #uk_newspapers

Readership statistics are obtained from the Monthly Readers (NRS) data of the National Readership Survey covering the year from 2016 Oct to 2017 Sep. This estimates the numbers of readers and is a better source of data than that of the Audit Bureau of Circulation, which shows how many papers are distributed but cannot indicate how many get read - the NRS data includes paper copies that are read inside coffee shops, trains and libraries, and all other physically shared newspapers.

Chart of newspaper popularity against quality

2. Newspaper Comparison and Points Calculations

#mass_media #newspapers #UK #uk_newspapers

The EconomistWeekly newspaper in magazine format. Because most academics don't include this (or other weeklies) in their studies of newspapers, I do not have enough information to formally rate it.
1
No criticisms found in any of my sources.
1
Quality, accuracy, wide scope, realistic reporting.
The Guardian
@
Left-of-centre, progressive, generally pro-European, pro-welfare state, pro-civil rights, anti-monarchy.4
2
High quality5.
2
Has won Newspaper of the Year 4 times6.
1
Least amount of wire copy (Davies 2008), meaning that text and stories are manually checked and manually written more than other papers.
1
Many PCC complaints against it (6th worse in the list) [2013]7.
Daily Telegraph
Including Sunday Telegraph
@@
Strongly conservative4.
2
High quality5.
2
Has won Newspaper of the Year 4 times6.
1
Many PCC complaints against it (3rd worse in the list) [2013]7.
The Independent and i
Including the Independent on Sunday.
@@
Generally, politically left. Cautious of official information.4. Independent print edition ceased publication in 2016 Mar but compact i continues.
2
High quality5.
1
Has won Newspaper of the Year once6.
1
Many PCC complaints against it (10th worse in the list) [2013]7.
The Observer
@
Slightly less left than the Independent4.
1
Quality5.
1
Has won Newspaper of the Year once6.
Financial Times
@
1
Has won Newspaper of the Year once6.
The Times8
Including The Sunday Times
@@
Politically conservative4.
1
Quality5.
2
Has won Newspaper of the Year 3 times6.
1
Many PCC complaints against it (9th worse in the list) [2013]7.
1
A high number of successful PCC complaints (2008)9.
1
"I know Whitehall press officers now who rank the [Sunday Times] above even the cheapest red-top tabloid as a source of fabricated stories"10.
London Gazette
@
"Official Newspaper of Record for the United Kingdom", "its content consists of legal and official announcements from HM Government, the Armed Forces, local authorities, the Established Churches, companies and private citizens"4.
Morning Star
@
Left wing4.
The People
@
1
Many PCC complaints against it (7th worse in the list) [2013]7.
The MetroFree, London-area. Included here because of its popularity.
1
Many PCC complaints against it (8th worse in the list) [2013]7.
London Evening StandardFree, London-area. Included here because of its popularity.
1
Many PCC complaints against it (8th worse in the list) [2013]7.
Daily Mirror
Including Sunday Mirror
@@
"Left-wing, down-market. [...] It remains the only national newspaper to support Labour consistently".
1
Has won Newspaper of the Year once6.
1
Sensationalism4, lack of depth.
1
Many PCC complaints against it (4th worse in the list) [2013]7.
Daily Sport
Including Sunday Sport
@@
"Unapologetically trashy tabloid", "almost zero news content", soft porn content4.
1
Sensationalism, lack of depth.
Daily Express
Including Sunday Express
@
Conservative, right-of-centre4. Daily Express is one of the worst three tabloids5. Britishpapers.co.uk lists this as a mid-market title.
1
Sensationalism, lack of depth.
1
Worst 3 tabloids according to Jones (2004).
1
Singled-out as a source of hate by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights11.
Daily Star
@
Sensationalism, entertainment, some soft porn, right-wing, news content is negligible12. One of the worst three tabloids5.
1
Sensationalism, lack of depth.
1
Worst 3 tabloids according to Jones (2004).
The Sun
Including The Sun on Sunday
@
Entertainment, "Sensational headlines", some soft porn, sometimes right-wing, light on news and politics, some say xenophobic and sexist4. One of the two most popular newspapers.
2
638 PCC complaints against it (2nd worse in the list) [2013]7.
1
A very high number of successful PCC complaints [2008]9.
1
Sensationalism, lack of depth.
1
Worst 3 tabloids according to Jones (2004)5.
1
Corporate criminal and immoral behaviour13.
1
Singled-out as a source of hate by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights11.
Daily Mail
Including Mail on Sunday
@@
Staunchly right-wing14. Populist, rabidly conservative, anti-Europe, anti-immigration, anti-taxation, anti-abortion, anti-permissive, concocted moral outrages15. Alastair Campbell said: "It's very hard to see how we can be happy as a nation when every day two million people buy the Daily Mail"16.
3
Has won Newspaper of the Year 8 times6.
3
1,214 PCC complaints against it (top of the league by a long way, and its Sunday counterpart is 5th in the list) [2013]7.
3
Three times more successful PCC complaints against it than any other paper [2008]9.
1
Sensationalism, lack of depth.
1
"Alarmist headlines", providing "daily hate" according to former owner Lord Northcliffe. "More than any other newspaper in Britain, it deals in falsehood and distortion"14.
1
Plagiarism of external press sources17.
1
Misinforming the masses of medical issues: "international journal of health scares" according to Dr Goldacre18.

The @ links are to BritishPapers.co.uk website pages for each publication - two links can appear for those that also have Sunday editions. Green markers denote positive points and red markers denote deductions. The Press Complaints Commission does not produce figures broken down by publication, so methodical analysis of complaints is only available from times when academics have manually iterated through claims. They have been told by UK government to produce such stats, but so far have refused (they are led by a Daily Mail manager, who represents the paper with the worst rate of complaints). It is not the case that the most popular papers attract most complains because they are read most frequently: The Daily Mail receives twice as many complains even though The Sun is more popular, and, the number of complaints is genuinely a reflection of the poor fact-checking and sensationalism of the papers - hence why the worst quality papers have most complaints.

Current edition: 2018 Feb 06
Third edition 2016 Aug 07
Second edition 2009 Jun 13
Originally published 1998 Oct 15
http://www.humantruth.info/uk_newspapers_comparison.html
Parent page: United Kingdom: National Successes and Social Failures

All #tags used on this page - click for more:

#mass_media #newspapers #the_guardian #the_sun #UK #uk_newspapers #western_culture

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References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See vexen.co.uk/references.html#Economist for some commentary on this source. A newspaper.

The Times. UK newspaper. See Which are the Best and Worst Newspapers in the UK?. Was once a quality newspaper but over the last two decades has fallen below several other papers. Part of Murdoch's News International empire since 1981.

Davies, Nick
(2008) Flat Earth News. Published by Chatto & Windus, Random House, London, UK. A hardback book.

Goldacre, Ben. MD.
(2008) Bad Science. Published by Fourth Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, London, UK.

Jones, Bill
(2004, Ed.) Politics UK. 5th edition. Originally published 1991. Current version published by Pearson Education Ltd. With Dennish Kavanagh, Michael Moran and Phillip Norton. A paperback book.

Leveson, Lord Justice
(2012) The Leveson Inquiry. Subtitled: "An Inquiry Into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press". Published by The Stationary Office, UK. Dated 2012 Nov. Official UK government document. Available for download from www.official-documents.gov.uk . The full report is spreadh across 4 volumes, totalling 2000 pages. I've used the 48-page Executive Summary which contains numbered paragraphs and these as referenced directly. Accessed 2016 Nov 09.

Lewis, Williams & Franklin
(2008) A Compromised Fourth Estate? UK news journalism, public relations and news sources. Published by Journalism Studies (2008 Feb), Vol. 9 Issue 1, p1-20. The authors are Justin Lewis, Andrew Williams, and Bob Franklin.

McDougall, Julian
(2012) Media Studies: The Basics. Published by Routledge, New York, USA. A paperback book.

Ponsford, Dominic
(2017 May 26) Survey finds that UK written press is (by some way) the least trusted in Europe. Date last accessed 2018 Feb 05. The article reports on the European Broadcasting Union's survey of 1,000 people across 33 European countries.

UNHCHR
(2015 Apr 24) UN Human Rights Chief urges U.K. to tackle tabloid hate speech, after migrants called “cockroaches”. Date last accessed 2018 Feb 06. An article.

Footnotes

  1. http://www.statista.com/ data from 2015, accessed 2016 Aug 03.^
  2. Ponsford (2017 May 26) .Added to this page on 2018 Feb 05.^
  3. Added to this page on 2018 Feb 06.^
  4. www.britishpapers.co.uk. Accessed 2009 Jun 11.^
  5. Jones (2004). P202.^
  6. Newspaper of the Year list on Wikipedia for 1993-2016. Accessed 2018 Feb 06. The paper that has the highest number of awards gets 3 points; papers with more than one award get 2 points, and those with one award get one point.^
  7. Year 2013 PCC Monthly Complaint Summaries compiled by Hacked Off, in The Huffington Post (2014 Apr 02) accessed 2016 Aug 03.^
  8. The Times .^
  9. Davies (2008) p366. Davies tabulated successful filings with the Press Complaints Commission (i.e., cases that were concluded in favour of the complainer). He listed the four worst papers: The Times, the Mirror, the Sun and the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail had three times as many complaints as the other three.^
  10. Davies (2008). P325.^
  11. UNHCHR (2015 Apr 24) .^
  12. The Economist (2008 Jun 28) Article "The unanimity problem"..^
  13. Three sources:
    1. Channel 4 News article "Revealed: the Rupert Murdoch tape" (2013 Jul 03). The original page is now offline; the linked copy is hosted on The Internet Archive. Accessed 2016 Nov 13.
    2. BBC News article "Leveson Inquiry: Evidence suggests 'network of corrupt officials'" (2012 Feb 27). Accessed 2016 Nov 13.
    3. Leveson (2012) Para29..
    ^
  14. Davies (2008). P367.^
  15. David Aaronovitch (2006), Times newspaper. Accessed on timesonline.co.uk/davidaaronovitch in 2006.^
  16. McDougall (2012). P158. . Cites Alaistair Campbell (2011). 'Happiness', the Thomas Baggs Lecture, University of Birmingham, 12 July.^
  17. The Daily Mail often takes press releases or agency news text and simply copies it, sometimes combining such copied text from multiples wires into one article, which they often attribute wrongly to "a Daily Mail Reporter". Lewis, Williams & Franklin19 conclude that "such practices would, elsewhere, be regarded as straightforward plagiarism" (Lewis, Williams & Franklin (2008)19).^
  18. Goldacre (2008). Chapter 13 "Why Clever People Believe Stupid Things" digital location 4171. Added to this page on 2018 Feb 05.^
  19. Lewis, Williams & Franklin (2008) .^

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