Britain has a long history of newspaper publishing, with the first regular prints dating back to the 17th century. Initially aimed at a male elite readership, it was the attempt to appeal to the mass market that led to the creation of an archetypically British style of newspaper, the tabloid. 


The name ‘tabloid’ primarily refers to the smaller and more ‘compact’ format of newspaper in contrast to the traditional broadsheet. It also introduced a new style that focused on short articles, short paragraphs and simple sentences that were easy to read and offered a more economical use of printing space. The name tabloid was formerly associated with the brand name of a compressed pharmaceutical that combined the words ‘tablet’ and ‘alkaloid’, introduced in 1884 by the London-London-based firm Burroughs, Wellcome & Co. The connotation was later adopted to describe the simplified and more condensed type of reporting.


The first modern tabloid to be launched was the Daily Mirror, founded in London in 1903 by the freelance journalist and innovator Alfred Harmsworth (later Viscount Northcliffe.) Targeting the working class, this new type of journalism emphasised sensational topics, covering crime stories, human tragedies, celebrity gossip, sport, cartoons, and puzzles. It also included more photographs than other newspapers. This later became a key feature of its competitor The Sun, which gained international notoriety by adding pictures of topless female models on page 3. Launched by Rupert Murdoch in 1969, The Sun has become — together with the other four ‘red-topsDaily ExpressDaily MirrorDaily StarDaily Mail— part of British life, for better or worse.

438 The Yellow press freeimage

Daily mail: Daily circulation: 984,043

Its main target audience are lower middle-class British women. The Daily Mail‘s main shareholder is Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere, a great-grandson of one of the newspaper’s original co-founders. Traditionally seen as right-wing, the tabloid is often criticised for printing sensationalist and inaccurate scare stories on scientific and medical research. Its sister paper, the Mail on Sunday, is the biggest-selling Sunday newspaper in the UK with a circulation of 1,588,164 copies each week. It recently lost a court case to Meghan Markle, who accused the paper of misuse of private information as it had published parts of a personal letter to her estranged father without her permission.