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The Sun
Sun front.jpg
The Sun in January 2005, featuring Prince Harry of Wales in Nazi costume.
Type Daily newspaper available Monday to Saturday except Christmas Day.
Format Tabloid
Owner News International
Editor Dominic Mohan
Founded 1963
Political alignment Populist[1]
currently supporting The Conservative Party[2]
Headquarters Wapping
Official website www.thesun.co.uk Twitter RSS Feeds

The Sun is a daily tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and Ireland (where it is known as The Irish Sun) with the highest circulation of any daily English-language newspaper in the world , standing at an average of 2,972,763 copies a day in February 2010. A separate Scottish Sun is published and printed in Glasgow with a circulation of about 350,000 copies daily (February 2010) The total daily readership is approximately 7,700,000, of which 56 percent are male and 44 percent female.[3] By circulation it is the tenth biggest newspaper in any language in the world,[4] just behind its Sunday stablemate the News of the World, although their circulations are close (News of the World sold 2,993,709 copies weekly in February 2010)[5] It reaches 2.9 million readers in the ABC1 demographic and 5.0 million in the C2DE demographic, compared to the 1.5 and 0.1 million respectively of its broadsheet stablemate The Times.[3] It is published by News Group Newspapers of News International, itself a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.[6][7]

Contents

History

The Sun was first published as a broadsheet on 15 September 1964[8] - with a logo featuring a glowing orange disc. It was launched by owners IPC (International Press Corporation) to replace the failing Daily Herald. The paper did not live up to IPC's expectations. Circulation continued to decline and it was soon losing even more money than the Herald had done.

The first modern use of the word Sun as a UK newspaper title was the Student Newspaper of The Birmingham College of Advanced Technology (which became Aston University in 1966). The Birmingham Sun - SUN stood for Student Union Newspaper and was founded in 1951.

An earlier government backed newspaper called The Sun had been published by John Heriot between 1792 and 1806.

In 1969, IPC decided to throw in the towel. The tycoon Robert Maxwell, eager to buy a British newspaper (which he later did, with the Mirror Group in 1984) offered to take it off their hands and retain its commitment to the Labour party, but admitted there would be redundancies, especially among the printers. Rupert Murdoch had already bought the News of the World, a sensationalist Sunday newspaper, the previous year, but the presses in the basement of his building in London's Bouverie Street sat idle six days a week. Seizing the opportunity to increase his presence on Fleet Street, he made an agreement with the print unions, promising fewer redundancies if he got the paper. He assured IPC that he would publish a "straightforward, honest newspaper" which would continue to support Labour. IPC, under pressure from the unions, rejected Maxwell's offer, and Murdoch bought the paper for £800,000, to be paid in instalments.[9] He would later remark: "I am constantly amazed at the ease with which I entered British newspapers."[10]

Murdoch stopped printing in Manchester in 1969 which put the ageing Bouverie Street presses under extreme pressure as circulation grew.Eventually News International opened printing plants at Knowsley on Merseyside and in Glasgow in the early 1990s.These plants were upgraded with high-speed presses which could print every page in full colour by 2008.They also produce The Times, News of the World, Sunday Times and some local papers.

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The 1980s

The Sun's sale grew and grew during the 1980s and the paper became increasingly brash under the editorship of Kelvin MacKenzie. Bingo, introduced in 1981, was a key driver of the circulation rise.

The Sun was an ardent supporter of Margaret Thatcher and her policies. Throughout the 1980s, its stance, on many issues, was to the right of the Daily Mail, and it maintained its very strong support for the Conservatives when Thatcher was succeeded by John Major in 1990.

The Sun also made frequent scathing attacks on what the paper called the "loony left" element within the Labour Party and on institutions supposedly controlled by it, such as the left-wing Greater London Council and Liverpool City Council.

The Sun also did a story extensively quoting a respected American psychiatrist claiming that British left-wing politician Tony Benn was "insane", with the psychiatrist discussing various aspects of Benn's supposed pathology.[11] The story was discredited when the psychiatrist in question publicly denounced the article and described the false quotes attributed to him as "absurd", The Sun having apparently fabricated the entire piece.

The Sun, during the British miners' strike, 1984-1985 supported the police and the Thatcher government against the striking NUM miners. The paper was accused of making misleading or even outright false claims about the miners, their unions and Arthur Scargill. On 23 May 1984, The Sun prepared a front page with the headline "Mine Führer" and a photograph of Scargill with his arm in the air, a pose which made him look as though he was giving a Nazi salute. The print workers at The Sun, regarding it as an attempt at a cheap smear, refused to print it.[12]

The Sun strongly supported the April 1986 bombing of Libya by the US, which was launched from British bases. Several civilians were killed during the bombing. Their leader was "Right Ron, Right Maggie"[13]

In January 1986 Murdoch shut down the Bouverie Street premises of The Sun and News of the World, and moved operations to the new Wapping complex in East London, blocking union activity and greatly reducing the number of staff employed to print the papers; a year-long picket by sacked workers was eventually defeated (see Wapping dispute).

During the 1987 the Sun ran an extraordinary mock-editorial entitled "Why I'm Backing Kinnock, by Joseph Stalin.[14]

Although the coverage of the 1992 election remains the best remembered, there were many other vitriolic personal attacks on Labour leaders by The Sun during election campaigns, such as in 1983 when The Sun ran a front page featuring an unflattering photograph of Michael Foot, claiming he was unfit to be Prime Minister on grounds of his age and appearance, as well as his policies, alongside the headline "Do You Really Want This Old Fool To Run Britain?",[15]. Paradoxically, a year later, in 1984, The Sun made clear its enthusiastic support for the re-election of Ronald Reagan as president in the US. Reagan was two years older than Foot.

The 1990s

The Sun vociferously supported the introduction of the controversial Community Charge (or Poll Tax) by Margaret Thatcher in 1990, despite widespread opposition, (some from Conservative MPs) which culminated in huge public protests, riots and eventually mass non-payment, all of which is seen as having contributed to Thatcher's own downfall. The tax was quickly repealed by her successor John Major, who The Sun initially supported enthusiastically, believing he was a radical Thatcherite. The Sun labelled those attending public protests opposing the tax as "thugs".[16]

The Sun launched a fierce and bitter personal attack on Michael Heseltine, Michael Mates and Keith Hampson during the November 1990 leadership election contest, as a result of which Thatcher was ousted from office.

On the day of the general election of 9 April 1992, its front-page headline, encapsulating its antipathy towards the Labour leader Neil Kinnock, read "If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights". Two days later The Sun was so convinced its front page had swung a close election for the Conservatives it declared "It's The Sun Wot Won It".

The Sun led with a headline "Now we've all been screwed by the cabinet" with a reference to Black Wednesday in September 1992.[17] A month later, on 14 October, it attacked Michael Heseltine for the mass coal mine closures.

Despite its initial opposition to the mass coal mine closures, until 1997, the newspaper repeatedly called the implementation of further right-wing, Thatcherite policies, such as Royal Mail privatisation,[18] social security cutbacks, with leaders such as "Peter Lilley is right, we can't carry on like this",[19] and hostility to the EU, public spending cuts and tax cuts, and promotion of right-wing ministers to the cabinet, with leaders such as "More of the Redwood, not Deadwood".[20] The Sun attacked the then Labour leader John Smith in February 1994, for saying that more UK troops should be sent to Bosnia, as did some Conservative MP's. The Sun's comment was that "The only serious radicals in British politics these days are the likes of Redwood, Lilley and Portillo".[21] It also gradually expressed its bitter disillusionment with John Major as Prime Minister, with leaders such as "What fools we were to back John Major".[22]

The Sun supported John Redwood in the 1995 Conservative leadership election, but whilst backing Redwood and expressing admiration for him, The Sun urged both Major and Redwood to stand down, so Michael Heseltine and Michael Portillo, then the candidate of the Tory right, whom The Sun consistently and lavishly praised between 1992 and 1995, could contest the leadership of the party. The Sun would have almost certainly backed Portillo. In 1995 The Sun backed Alan Duncan's publication Saturn's children, but complained about its proposal to legalise drugs.

Circulation peak

Between 1994 and 1996, The Sun's circulation peaked. Its highest average sale was in the week ending 16 July 1994, when the daily figure was 4,305,957. The highest ever one-day sale was on 18 November 1995 (4,889,118), although the cover price had been cut to 10p. The highest ever one-day sale at full price was on 30 March 1996 (4,783,359). In common with almost all other UK national newspapers, due to the advent of the Internet and multi-channel broadcasting, and other factors, the circulation has since declined.[23]

Support for Labour at the 1997 General Election

The Sun switched support to Labour on 18 March 1997, six weeks before the landslide General Election victory which saw Labour leader Tony Blair become Prime Minister, despite attacking Blair and New Labour up to a month earlier. Its front page headline read THE SUN BACKS BLAIR and its front page editorial made clear that while it still opposed some of New Labour policies, such as the Minimum Wage and Devolution, it believed Blair to be "the breath of fresh air this great country needs."[24] John Major's Conservatives, it said, were "tired, divided and rudderless".[24] Blair, realising the influence the paper could have over its readers' political thinking, had "courted" it for some time by granting exclusive interviews and writing columns.

On 22 January 1997, The Sun accused the then shadow chancellor Gordon Brown of stealing the Conservatives ideas by declaring, "If all he is offering is Conservative financial restraint, why not vote for the real thing?",[25] and called the then planned windfall tax, which was later imposed by the Labour government as "wrongheaded".[26] In February 1997 it told Sir Edward Heath to stand down for supporting a National Minimum wage.[27]

In exchange for Rupert Murdoch's support, Blair agreed not to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.[28] The paper supported Labour in both the subsequent two elections, in 2001 and 2005, despite being a persistent critic of some of its policies, particularly on closer ties with Europe. It was argued that The Sun backed New Labour at the 1997 General Election because it knew that the Conservatives had no chance of winning, and if it had urged its readers to vote Conservative, afterwards it would have been seen as having backed a loser.

In May 2008 the Wapping presses rolled for the last time and London printing was transferred to Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, on the outskirts of London, where News International had built what is claimed to be the largest printing centre in Europe with 12 presses.Broxbourne also produces the News of the World,Times and Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Wall Street Journal Europe and local papers. Northern printing was switched to a new plant at Knowsley on Merseyside and the Scottish Sun to another new plant at Motherwell near Glasgow. The three print centres represent a £600 million investment by NI and allow all the titles to be produced with every page in full colour.

2009 Sun switch to the Conservatives

Politically, the paper's stance has been less clear under Prime Minister Gordon Brown than under Tony Blair. Its editorials have been critical of many of Brown's policies and often more supportive of those of Conservative leader David Cameron.

On 30 September 2009, shortly after Gordon Brown's speech at the 2009 Labour Party Conference in Brighton, the Sun, under the banner "Labour's Lost It" announced that it no longer supported the Labour Party, saying "The Sun believes - and prays - that the Conservative leadership can put the great back into Great Britain", although the Scottish Sun was more equivocal in its editorial.[29][30] The magazine Private Eye noted that the switch came shortly after a number of Conservative announcements that echoed James Murdoch's anti-BBC stance that had been the core of his MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the 2009 Edinburgh International Television Festival.[citation needed]

The Scottish Sun is not backing either Labour or the Conservatives, with its editorial stating it has "yet to be convinced" by the Conservative opposition, and editor David Dinsmore asking in an interview "what is David Cameron going to do for Scotland?".[31][32] Dinsmore also stated that the paper supported the Union, and was unlikely to back the Scottish National Party. Union Leader Tony Woodley ripped up a copy of The Sun on 30 September 2009 at the Labour Party Conference saying as he ripped it up - "In Liverpool we learnt a long time ago what to do". This was a reference to the newspaper's Hillsborough Disaster controversy.[33]

Content

The Sun relies heavily on stories and occasionally scandals involving celebrities and the entertainment industry, contained in its general news pages as well as in sections such as Bizarre (pop music stories and gossip) and TV Biz (television stories, concentrating on soaps and reality TV). The current editor is Dominic Mohan.

An award-winning section titled Something for the Weekend,[34] published each Friday, covers a wide variety of other contemporary music and arts not normally found in the main part of the paper. Coverage of the British monarchy is regular or even daily, albeit without the dominance it had in the paper in the 1990s during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Page 3, prominently displaying a female model aged between 18 and about 27 posing topless, is still a daily feature in the paper, as it has been since 1970.

The paper regularly runs reader promotions, such as DVD giveaways and holiday offers such as £9.50 Holidays.

The Sun has a large sports section, placed at the back of the paper and with football as its mainstay, though personal stories about prominent sportsmen and women will often be found in the news pages.

Politics is always found on Page 2 but can be elsewhere in the news pages. World news is distributed throughout the news pages, rather than in a self-contained section. Crime coverage has been prominent during 2007, 2008 and 2009, with the paper running a "Broken Britain" campaign to highlight the increased lawlessness it perceives to be rife. Other themes high on The Sun's news agenda are illegal or legal immigration, child sex abuse and security lapses. NHS scandals are frequently covered, though the paper also has a Health section which covers general health issues and treatments.

The Sun's coverage has been supportive of the UK's military interventions and the "War on Terror" more generally. On 18 December, 2008, an editorial piece "The Sun Says" titled "Job well done" declared "Britain is leaving Iraq with its head held very high" as well as "Through the commitment of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to Iraq, we have shown that Britain DOES still have a major role to play in the world."[35]

Rupert Murdoch, head of The Sun's parent company News Corporation, speaking at a 2007 meeting with the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications, which was investigating media ownership and the news, said that he acts as a "traditional proprietor". This means he exercises editorial control on major issues such as which political party to back in a general election or which policy to adopt on Europe.[36]

Awards

The Sun has been a regular winner at the British Press Awards.[37] Here is a list of winners since 2000[38]

2000 – Front Page of the Year (Solar eclipse); Cudlipp Award for excellence in tabloid journalism: John Perry, Neil Roberts, Phil Leach for Hold Ye Front Page;[39] Sports Photographer of the Year: Richard Pelham.

  • 2001–Front Page of the Year (I'm Only Here For De Beers); Reporter of the Year: John Kay.
  • 2002–Scoop of the Year: Briony Warden, Internet baby traders.
  • 2004 - Reporter of the Year: John Kay; Photographer of the Year: Terry Richards; Sports Reporter of the Year: Neil Custis.
  • 2005 - Front Page of the Year (Hutton Report Leaked); Reporter of the Year: Trevor Kavanagh; Cudlipp Award (Band Aid 20 campaign); Financial Journalist of the Year: Ian King; Cartoonist of the Year: Bill Caldwell.
  • 2006–Front Page of the Year (Harry The Nazi); Reporter of the Year: Oliver Harvey; Showbusiness Writer of the Year: Victoria Newton.
  • 2008–Reporter of the Year: Tom Newton Dunn; Scoop of the Year: Tom Newton-Dunn; Cudlipp Award (Help for Heroes campaign); Campaign of the Year (Help For Heroes).

Charity

The Band Aid 20 charity pop single, which raised around £3million for Africa after its release in 2004, was the idea of Sun executive Dominic Mohan, who persuaded Bob Geldof K.B.E. to become involved.[40] The paper gave the recording and release of the record blanket coverage in a campaign that won the paper a British Press Award in 2005. The single was a re-recording of Band Aid's 1984 original "Do They Know It's Christmas" and featured, among others, Bono, Sir Paul McCartney and members of Radiohead and Coldplay.

The Help for Heroes charity, championed by The Sun, raised £7million in the eight months to June 2008 for injured British servicemen and women – a record for a start-up British charity.[41] The campaign won two British Press Awards in 2008.

The Sun's long-running Free Books For Schools promotion and campaign, in which readers collected tokens from the paper to be exchanged for school books, put 3.5million books worth nearly £20million into the 98 per cent of UK schools which registered for the scheme. The achievement won The Sun a Business In The Community award.[42]

Two books written and produced by The Sun were endorsed by the Government for use in schools. Hold Ye Front Page, which told 2,000 years of world history in spoof Sun pages, sold almost 100,000 copies. The then Education Secretary David Blunkett, later a Sun columnist, recommended every school should have one as an "ideal" aid for teaching history.[43] Giant Leaps, a science version along similar lines and jointly produced with the Science Museum (London) in 2006, was endorsed by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, who read passages from it during a speech at Oxford University,[44] and by Education Secretary Alan Johnson, who hailed it as a breakthrough for science teachers.[45] The book was a finalist in 2007 for the Royal Society Prizes for Science Books General Prize.[46]

Headlines

The Sun is famous for its headlines – be they witty, pertinent, outrageous or blatantly offensive. Some of the more memorable front page headlines include:[47]

  • CRISIS, WHAT CRISIS? (11 January 1979) – Reporting the attitude of a seemingly oblivious Prime Minister Jim Callaghan as he returned from a summit in the middle of the so-called "Winter of Discontent"
  • STICK IT UP YOUR JUNTA (20 April 1982) – Reporting Margaret Thatcher's rejection of a peace move by Argentina during the Falklands War.
  • GOTCHA – Our lads sink gunboat and hole cruiser (4 May 1982) – the torpedoing of the Argentine ship Belgrano and sinking of a gunboat during the Falklands War
  • FREDDIE STARR ATE MY HAMSTER (13 March 1986) – Entirely made-up story about a then-famous British comedian.
  • THE TRUTH (19 April 1989) - Infamous and baseless headline following the Hillsborough disaster, alleging that Liverpool F.C. fans had attacked policemen while trying to assist the victims of the crush at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield. Retracted in 2004.
  • UP YOURS DELORS (1 November 1990) – A message to French EU commissioner Jacques Delors, who was promoting the Euro (€).[48]
  • IT'S PADDY PANTSDOWN (6 February 1992) – Mocking Paddy Ashdown, leader of the Liberal-Democrat party, as he admits a five-month affair with a secretary.
  • IF KINNOCK WINS TODAY WILL THE LAST PERSON TO LEAVE BRITAIN PLEASE TURN OUT THE LIGHTS (9 April 1992) – Backing the Conservatives against Labour's Neil Kinnock at the 1992 General Election.
  • IT'S THE SUN WOT WON IT (11 April 1992) – Claiming credit for the Conservative victory.
  • THE SUN BACKS BLAIR (18 March 1997) – Switching political sides for the General Election in 1997.
  • I'M ONLY HERE FOR DE BEERS (8 November 2000) – Jewel thieves attempt to steal a De Beers diamond at the Millennium Dome, a tourist attraction in South-East London.
  • SLING YOUR HOOK (21 January 2003) – About the hook-handed Islamic preacher Abu Hamza, a regular Sun hate figure, later jailed for inciting terrorism.[49]
  • BONKERS BRUNO LOCKED UP (23 September 2003) - On boxer Frank Bruno being hospitalised after a nervous breakdown.[50]
  • HARRY THE NAZI (13 January 2005) – Scandal of Prince Harry wearing a Nazi uniform to a fancy dress party.[51]
  • HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE KOREA? (10 October 2006) – A play on the lyrics "How do you solve a problem like Maria" from the song "Maria." Released as North Korea tested a nuclear weapon.[52]
  • PORNOCCHIO (19 March 2008) – A reference to the "glamour modelling" past of Sir Paul McCartney's ex-wife Heather Mills as the judge in their divorce case called her a liar.[53]
  • SCUMBAG MILLIONAIRES (11 February 2009) - On bank bosses. A pun on Slumdog Millionaire.[54]
  • TONGUE SNOG MILLIONAIRE (24 April 2009) - On Slumdog Millionaire actors Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto dating in real life.[55]
  • PHWOAR IS OVER (13 May 2009) - Ministry of Defence officials ban British troops from viewing images of topless women on the Sun's "Page 3" website[56]
  • LABOUR'S LOST IT (30 September 2009) - The Sun turns its back on Labour after 12 years of support.[30]
  • OBAMA LAMA DING DONG (19 February 2010) - Coverage of Barack Obama meeting the Dalai Lama.[57]

Controversy

The Sun's brash headlines and bold presentation of news have made it a consistent subject of controversy and criticism throughout Rupert Murdoch's ownership.

Page 3 girls

The appearance of the first topless Page Three girl, Stefanie Rahn, on 17 November 1970, caused little offence. She was presented as a one-off "Birthday Suit Girl" to mark the first anniversary of the relaunched Sun. Controversy was only ignited over the next four years when the topless Page 3 girl gradually became a regular fixture, and with increasingly risqué poses. Both feminists and many cultural conservatives saw the pictures as pornographic and misogynistic. A public library in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, banned the paper because of its "excessive sexual content". The Labour MP Alex Lyon waved a copy of The Sun in the House of Commons and suggested the paper could be prosecuted for indecency. Much later, in 1986, Clare Short attempted in vain to persuade Parliament to outlaw the pictures. Although the anger generated by Page 3 has waned with the rise of "lads' magazines" during the 1990s and a generally more permissive society, it still has many enemies. As recently as 2005 a college in Lewisham, South-East London, banned The Sun from the campus because it felt its Page 3 pictures were degrading to women.[58]

Jingoism

The torpedoing of the Belgrano was celebrated on the front page of the British tabloid newspaper The Sun

One of the paper's most famous front pages, published on 4 May 1982, appeared to celebrate the news of the torpedoing of the Argentine ship the General Belgrano during the Falklands War by running the story under the headline "GOTCHA".[59] The headline was changed for later editions when the extent of Argentine casualties became known.[60]

In 2003 the paper was accused of racism by the Government over its criticisms of what it perceived as the "open door" policy on immigration. The attacks came from the Prime Minister's press spokesman Alastair Campbell and the then Home Secretary David Blunkett (later a Sun columnist). The paper rebutted the claim, believing that it was not racist to suggest that a "tide" of unchecked illegal immigrants was increasing the risk of terrorist attacks and infectious diseases. It did not help its argument by publishing a front page story on 4 July 2003, under the headline "Swan Bake", which claimed that asylum seekers were slaughtering and eating swans. It later proved to have no basis in fact. Subsequently The Sun published a follow-up headlined "Now they're after our fish!". Following a Press Complaints Commission adjudication a "clarification" was eventually printed, on page 41.[61]

The Sun has been openly antagonistic towards other European nations, particularly the French and Germans, who were, during the 1980s and 1990s, routinely described in copy and headlines as "frogs", "krauts" or "hun". The paper is opposed to the EU and has, in the past, referred to foreign leaders who it deemed hostile to the UK in unflattering terms. Former President Jacques Chirac of France, for instance, was branded "le Worm". An unflattering picture of German chancellor Angela Merkel, taken from the rear, bore the headline "I'm Big in the Bumdestag" (17 April 2006). Although The Sun was outspoken against the allegations of racism directed at Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on television reality show Celebrity Big Brother during 2007, the paper captioned a picture on its website, from a Bollywood-themed pop video by Hilary Duff, "Hilary PoppaDuff",[62] a very similar insult to that directed at Shetty.

On 7 January 2009, the Sun ran an exclusive front page story claiming that participants in a discussion on Ummah.com, a British Muslim internet forum, had made a "hate hit list" of British Jews to be targeted by extremists over the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict. It was claimed that "Those listed [on the forum] should treat it very seriously. Expect a hate campaign and intimidation by 20 or 30 thugs." The UK magazine Private Eye claimed that Glen Jenvey, a man quoted by The Sun as a terrorism expert, posted to the forum under the pseudonym "Abuislam", and was the only forum member promoting a hate campaign, while other members promoted peaceful advocacy such as writing 'polite letters'. The story has since been removed from The Sun's website following complaints to the UK's Press Complaints Commission.[63]

Hillsborough

The controversial Hillsborough edition.

The Sun's sensationalist coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster in Sheffield, where 96 people died and 730 were injured, proved to be, as the paper later admitted, the "most terrible" blunder in its history.[64] Under a front page headline "THE TRUTH", the paper claimed that some fans picked the pockets of crushed victims, that others urinated on members of the emergency services as they tried to help and that some even assaulted a Police Constable "whilst he was administering the kiss of life to a patient" (19 April 1989). Despite the headline, written by Kelvin MacKenzie, the story was based on allegations either by unnamed and unattributable sources, or hearsay accounts of what named individuals had said - a fact made clear to MacKenzie by Harry Arnold, the reporter who wrote the story. Although the disaster occurred before TV cameras and a mass of sports reporters, no evidence was ever produced to substantiate The Sun's allegations. The front page caused outrage in Liverpool, where the paper lost more than three-quarters of its estimated 55,000 daily sales and still sells poorly to this day (around 12,000).[65] It is unavailable in many parts of the city, as many newsagents refuse to stock it. It was revealed in a documentary called "Alexei Sayle's Liverpool" that many Liverpudlians will not even take the newspaper for free, and those who do may simply burn or tear it up.

On 7 July 2004, in response to verbal attacks in Liverpool on Wayne Rooney, then a young Everton player who had sold his life story to The Sun, the paper devoted a full-page editorial to an apology for the "awful error" of its Hillsborough coverage and argued that Rooney should not be punished for its "past sins". In January 2005, The Sun's managing editor Graham Dudman admitted the Hillsborough coverage was "the worst mistake in our history". He added: "What we did was a terrible mistake. It was a terrible, insensitive, horrible article, with a dreadful headline; but what we'd also say is: we have apologised for it, and the entire senior team here now is completely different from the team that put the paper out in 1989".[66] However, in May 2006, former editor Kelvin MacKenzie, the man behind the Hillsborough coverage, was rehired as a Sun columnist. Furthermore, on 11 January 2007, MacKenzie went on record as a panellist on BBC1's Question Time as saying the apology he made after the disaster was a hollow one, forced upon him by Rupert Murdoch. MacKenzie further claimed he was not sorry "for telling the truth" but he admitted that he did not know for sure whether some Liverpool fans urinated on the police, or robbed victims. [67]

Freddie Starr "ate my hamster"

The 13 March 1986 edition of The Sun, with the famous headline.

Despite its soaring sales The Sun of the 1980s earned a reputation for running stories based on few facts. The most blatant example gave the paper arguably its most famous headline: FREDDIE STARR ATE MY HAMSTER (13 March 1986). The story alleged that British comedian Freddie Starr had been staying at the home of Vince McCaffrey and his 23-year old girlfriend Lea La Salle in Birchwood, Cheshire, when, after returning from a performance at a nightclub in the early hours he demanded La Salle make him a sandwich. When she refused, he went into the kitchen, put her pet hamster Supersonic between two slices of bread and proceeded to eat it. Starr, in his 2001 autobiography Unwrapped, said he only stayed at McCaffrey's house once, in 1979, and that the incident was a complete fabrication. He wrote: "I have never eaten or even nibbled a live hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, shrew, vole or any other small mammal."[68] When the man behind the story, British publicist Max Clifford, was asked about it on television years later, he admitted to making it up and justified the lie as it boosted Starr's career enormously.

Mental health

On 22 September 2003 the newspaper appeared to misjudge the public mood surrounding mental health, as well as its affection for former world heavyweight champion boxer Frank Bruno, who had been admitted to hospital, when the headline "Bonkers Bruno Locked Up" appeared on the front page of early editions. The adverse reaction once the paper hit the streets on the evening of 21 September, led to the headline being changed for the paper's second edition to the more sympathetic Sad Bruno In Mental Home.[69]

Allegations of homophobia

In 1987, The Sun falsely accused homosexual pop musician Sir Elton John of having sexual relationships with rent boys. In another story it accused him of removing the voice boxes of his guard dogs because their barking kept him awake. Elton sued over both stories and won £1million in libel damages, then the largest payout in British history. The Sun ran a front-page apology on 12 December 1988, under the banner headline SORRY, ELTON. The Elton John story was fuelled by the homophobia rife on the paper during the 1980s and to a lesser degree the 1990s. Gay Church of England clergymen were described in one headline in November 1987 as "Pulpit poofs." Stories frequently speculated on the sexual orientation of famous people, and pop stars in particular. Television personality Piers Morgan, a former Editor of the Daily Mirror and of The Sun’s Bizarre pop column, has said that during the late 1980s, at Kelvin MacKenzie's behest, he was ordered to speculate on the sexuality of male pop stars for a feature headlined "The Poofs of Pop". He also recalls MacKenzie headlining a story about the first homosexual kiss on BBC television soap opera EastEnders "EastBenders".[70] Even much later – after Cabinet Minister Peter Mandelson was "outed" by Matthew Parris (a gay former Sun columnist) on BBC TV's Newsnight in November 1998 - The Sun's then Editor David Yelland demanded to know in a front page editorial whether Britain was governed by a "gay mafia" of a "closed world of men with a mutual self-interest". Three days later the paper apologised in another editorial which said The Sun would never again reveal a person's sexuality unless it could be defended on the grounds of "overwhelming public interest".

Spelling errors

After attacking Gordon Brown for mis-spelling a dead soldier's mother's name,[71] The Sun were then forced to apologise for mis-spelling the same name on their website.[72]

AIDS

On November 17, 1989, the Sun headlined a page 2 story “STRAIGHT SEX CANNOT GIVE YOU AIDS – OFFICIAL." The Sun Says column added: “Forget the idea that ordinary heterosexual people can contract Aids. They can’t…anything else is homosexual propaganda.” The Press Council issued a ruling of censure against the paper and The Sun later apologised.

Editors

Other versions

The Scottish Sun

There is also a Scottish edition of The Sun launched in 1987, known as The Scottish Sun. Based in Glasgow, the paper sells for 30p. The Scottish Sun is often referred to as "a downmarket, English-based tabloid" by the Daily Record. It duplicates much of the content of the England and Wales edition but with additional coverage of Scottish news and sport.

In the early 1990s, the Scottish edition became notable as the first major newspaper to declare support for the pro-independence Scottish National Party. At the time the paper elsewhere continued to support the Conservatives, who were then becoming an increasingly marginalised force in Scotland. This stance, however, became somewhat problematic following The Sun's adoption of support for Labour elsewhere in the UK, given that the SNP were seen as Labour's main challengers and fiercest rivals in Scotland. The Scottish edition was forced to employ some convoluted logic to justify its eventual withdrawal of support for the SNP in favour of pro-union Labour.

However, the Scottish Sun had performed a major U-turn by the time of the 2007 Scottish election, in which its front page featured a hangman's noose in the shape of an SNP logo, stating "Vote SNP today and you put Scotland's head in the noose".[73]

In football the newspaper got banned from Heart of Midlothian's football ground Tynecastle for stirring up issues at the Edinburgh club involving their owner Vladimir Romanov. Two years later they were stirring up life for the Edinburgh outfit again as they made a back page report that manager Csaba Laszlo was on the verge of leaving the club after a meeting with the owner Vladimir Romanov over transfer fees for the following season. It turned out that the pair didn` t even meet until the day after The Sun made this false report.

The Irish Sun

There is also an Irish edition, based in Dublin with a regional edition for Northern Ireland, known as the Irish Sun. It shares some content - namely glamour and showbiz - with the UK edition, but has mainly Irish news and editorial content, as well as sport and advertising. It often views stories in a very different light to those being reported in the UK edition, or takes a more pro-Irish angle. One notable example is how the release of the film The Wind That Shakes the Barley was covered, with the UK editions describing it as "designed to drag the reputation of our nation through the mud" and "the most pro-IRA ever",[74] whereas the Irish edition described it as giving "the Brits a tanning".[75] It uses a slightly bigger sheet size than the UK version, and costs €0.90.

Polish edition

In June 2008, The Sun became the first national newspaper to produce a Polish language version[76] (Polski Sun). Six editions were produced for Poland's group matches in the Euro 2008 football tournament.

Related newspapers

Other newspapers published by other companies within the UK with "tabloid values" are the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Star, and the Daily Sport. See List of newspapers in the United Kingdom for a comparison of The Sun with other newspapers.

Note: the sister Sunday paper of The Sun (also published by News Group Newspapers) is the News of the World – the Sunday Sun is an unrelated tabloid newspaper, published in Newcastle upon Tyne.

  • The first newspaper to carry The Sun masthead was published in 1792 by the Pitt government to counter the pro-revolutionary press at that time.
  • The Toronto Sun in Canada modeled itself on the newspaper, including a sunshine girl (who has never been topless). The "Sun" masthead has since spread to many other cities in Canada.
  • The Sun has also been adopted in Nigeria as "The Sun" or the "Daily Sun", With the page-3 girl dubbed "The Sun Girl". The Nigerian counterpart shares the same iconic red and white masthead with the British paper.
  • In the United States, The New York Post, also owned by News Corporation, is a somewhat milder counterpart of The Sun, with broadly conservative views of American politics, and extensive coverage and gossip of celebrities which often serve as the full front page headline even when other local papers are reporting something more significant.
  • Also in the US, American Media Inc. publishes a supermarket tabloid called simply Sun. The content of the paper is satirical and sensationalist. Stories often involve Bible prophecy or Nostradamus. Its masthead is modelled on The Sun, only with an American flag replacing the red background.
  • In South Africa, two newspapers take their inspiration from The Sun, including the name. The Daily Sun (Johannesburg) is the country's biggest selling daily newspaper, and by far the most sensationalist. Die Kaapse Son (Cape Town) started out as a weekly newspaper, but became so successful that it eventually became a daily. Two regional (weekly) editions, respectively in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein, were less successful, and have folded.

See also

References

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Further reading

  • Peter Chippindale & Chris Horrie Stick It Up Your Punter! The rise and fall of The Sun, 1990, Heinemann; 1999, Pocket Books
  • Roy Greenslade Press Gang, 2003, Macmillan

External links


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