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April 02, 2011

Comments

CharlieMcMenamin

Poor journalism: absolutely no reference to the effect of this phenomenon on house prices in the South East.

Myles

Poor journalism: absolutely no reference to the effect of this phenomenon on house prices in the South East.

Always wondered why if Daily Mail readers wanted to know about house prices, they don't just get the FT.

hellblazer

Always wondered why if Daily Mail readers wanted to know about house prices, they don't just get the FT.

Because they (a) don't want to read the FT (b) like the Daily Mail worldview? I'm having difficulty finding a non-fatuous interpretation of your rhetorical question...

(How much is the Daily Mail even read in Canada, FFS?)

ajay

Also, because the ft doesn't actually write about house prices in the south east that often.

CharlieMcMenamin

Myles,
I've never been convinced that Daily Mail readers want to know about house prices per se. I just see subjects like house prices being a kind of useful shorthand for channelling the great British lower middle class fear that someone, somewhere, may be doing better than they are. By seeing economic and world events through the prism of house prices one can identify who is to blame for such an outrageous situation.

Myles

(How much is the Daily Mail even read in Canada, FFS?)

I'm supposing this is a rhetorical question.

I just see subjects like house prices being a kind of useful shorthand for channelling the great British lower middle class fear that someone, somewhere, may be doing better than they are. By seeing economic and world events through the prism of house prices one can identify who is to blame for such an outrageous situation.

Not too sure on what you mean by house prices channelling the fear.

I'm never sure anyone who reads the financial section of normal newspapers actually does much with the information. If they did, more right-wingers that I know of would have been buying up BP stock in the aftermath of Deepwater Horizon (basically: the collapse in prices overestimated liability by something like a factor of three).

CharlieMcMenamin

I've never read the financial section of the Daily Mail. I've no idea if they also cover house prices there as well.

Try this Myles if you want to really understand the Brit mid market tabloids.

hellblazer

"If people who watch CSI: Miami really want to learn about the complex interface between policing and the American legal system, why don't they watch Law and Order?"

Myles

"If people who watch CSI: Miami really want to learn about the complex interface between policing and the American legal system, why don't they watch Law and Order?"

From my perspective, both shows are pretty boring. (And as I never really watched Law and Order, I don't know if the question is just facetious or both facetious and ironic.) This is embarrassing, but after the OC ended, people only really catch TV on a prime-time basis in a sort of group meta setting (i.e. a Mad Men or Hills watching group, with meta chatting going on.)

Try this Myles if you want to really understand the Brit mid market tabloids.

I wondered if you imported the Brit tabloid format to North America, would it sell?

hellblazer

Myles, I thought you were brighter than this...

OK, let me spell this out: when you say you've wondered "why if Daily Mail readers wanted to know about house prices, they don't just get the FT", this sounds odd to those of us who have read or been exposed to the Daily Mail, because you are conditioning on a highly debatable premise, or conditioning on an event of small probability.

Daily Mail readers do not, in my experience, read the Daily Mail because they want to know about house prices; they read it because it resonates with, or helps to form, a world view they find comforting. Why bring the Daily Mail in to the conversation if you don't know about it and its place in British culture and history?

Hence my attempted analogy: people do not watch CSI:Miami because they care about striving-for-veracity accounts of legal procedure and how it impinges with police procedure. They watch it for the visuals and as mental candy (I assume). So the question is fatuous for a similar reason to the one about the Daily Mail and the FT.

Myles

So the question is fatuous for a similar reason to the one about the Daily Mail and the FT.

Ah. Thanks. I admit British popular culture is something of an abstraction to me. I have never actually met anyone who would admit to reading the Daily Mail, although I am certain some must do.

Myles

(Which is why I find the Daily Mail fascinating in the sense of where in British culture it fits into; presumably the Mondeo Man and so on, but the interesting question is what makes it sell, what personal need it serves. You seem to think it essentially works as a form of mass-produced solidarity, a kind of Facebook Newsfeed for the closed-minded. What I wonder is if its function as a medium can be made content-neutral; can such a format be a FB Newsfeed for anything, or merely prejudice and paranoia?

I'm not in general too strung up about the need for newspapers to be solemn the way Americans do it. NYTimes is not readable without the upper-middle class stylistic tics (in the pre-war Mitteleuropaeische German, rather than Anglo manner) it adds on top of its solid reporting. American local and regional papers are not readable tout court.)

Cian

Please god, somebody invent a filter for comments threads...

Guano

I only watch CSI Miama for the theme tune.

Richard J

cian> I'm sure there must be a Greasemonkey plugin.

cian

Probably, but I don't use firefox

Surely CSI Miami should be celebrated as the only prime-time show whose hero is a repressed pedophile.

I saw a CSI once (I was sick, or drunk, or sectioned, or something). The whole plot revolved around stopping some bank robbers, at great risk to their own ives, from stealing something from a bank vault which was about to be destroyed by a tsunami. If you wanted a primer on US elite ethics, I don't think you could look for a better primer.

Barry Freed

I only watch it for the sunglass-fu.

Jasper Milvain

The development of British tabloids was peculiar in a bunch of ways that makes them tricky to export:

- We had a nationally distributed press very early: the Daily Mail was printed in Manchester as well as London from 1900

- Effective broadcast competition came relatively late: the BBC was initially highly restricted in the news it was allowed to offer, commercial TV only came in from the mid-1950s, and mainland commercial radio only in the 1960s

- We had a race for mass circulations in the 1920s and 30s of exceptional ferocity, extravagance and duration: even one of the staider proprietors resorted to the slogan "MONEY - YOU WANT IT, WE GIVE IT". This had a legacy of low prices and massive circulations. According to Francis Williams's Dangerous Estate, which is admittedly a bit on the tabloid side itself, the total British newspaper readership in the late 1950s was higher than the total literate population (because of literate people reading multiple newspapers, rather than because of illiterate people buying tabloids, but still).

- The result of all this is newspapers that run to a slightly different business model. Once you have a massive circulation, you can be less dependent on advertising, and therefore less respectable. British red-top tabloids (the Sun, the Mirror) traditionally make 60% of their money on cover price; and it's generally about half cover price and half advertising for the national quality press. Until the great classified advertising collapse, North American metropolitan dailies made about 80% of their money on advertising.

On the other hand, there's a good case that Rupert Murdoch has tried to export a British tabloid style - or at least an Anglo-Australian one - to north America. He bought up a chain of US tabloids in the 1980s. The main survivor of his experiment is the New York Post, which about half a million people buy each day. It loses money.

Cian

There's also commuters. That's a pretty big market right there which mostly doesn't exist in the US (the major exception is New York, where a lot of people do read the NYT/WSJ on the train).

I think another reason is that British newspapers are better edited/written and designed, while taking themselves way less seriously.

One of the major reasons for the collapse of the US newspaper market incidentally is that they were mostly bought by companies with unrealistic expectations of returns on capital. When these couldn't be realised, they cut investment/spending, with the result that US newspapers got worse and worse.

john b

I think another reason is that British newspapers are better edited/written and designed, while taking themselves way less seriously.

This is most evident in the final series of the Wire. They're serving a community 1/5 the size of the catchment area of the Manchester Evening News, and yet they all think they're the Sunday Times Insight team...

dsquared

The interesting thing with regard to that is that the largest circulation national newspaper in the US (USA Today) has roughly the same circulation as the Daily Mail, despite the fact that the USA is approximately five times the size of the UK. But the Hartford Courant has roughly the same circulation as the Evening Standard (or at least, it did before the Standard went free), despite the fact that London is five times the size of Hartford, Connecticut.

So it's not *quite* so ridiculous that a local newspaper takes itself so seriously; local newspapers are a bigger deal relative to national ones in the US.

Myles

But the Hartford Courant has roughly the same circulation as the Evening Standard (or at least, it did before the Standard went free), despite the fact that London is five times the size of Hartford, Connecticut.

The Hartford Courant circulates widely in the entire intermediate region between the NYC and Boston conurbations, so it's actually got quite a catchment.

Alex

I think another reason is that British newspapers are better edited/written and designed, while taking themselves way less seriously.

s/b

I think another reason is that British newspapers are better.

(I have just been reading the San Francisco Chronicle. The Evening Standard, let alone the Guardian or the FT, makes it look utterly pathetic. No news and not really very much of anything else. Just very poor value for money.)

Jasper Milvain

The Standard, in its paid-for days, went way out into the south-east commuter belt, which gave it a potential audience significantly larger than the seven-million population of greater London. But then it aimed fairly narrowly at the most affluent - the Evening News (d. 1980) and the old Star (d. 1960) were always bigger sellers, just to a less advertiser-friendly readership.

Regional newspapers in Britain are really a whole other kettle of dying fish. They were bleeding badly for years before the net - the Manchester Evening News, fr'instance, sold more than 400,000 in 1960, with a surviving competitor on well over 200,000. It was down to 270,000-odd as a monopoly by 1989 and is significantly under 100,000 now. And it's far from the scariest case. (I'm afraid I get quite nerdy on this subject.)

Igor Belanov

As part of my academic research I've been looking at editions of the Yorkshire Evening Post from the 1950s to the early 1970s, and one reason why they had higher circulation then might have been because they were so much better than they are now. From national news to local issues to local sport there was so much more there, as well as a lot less worthless comment.

Plus, back then evening newspapers sold in the evenings, and could offer new stories that weren't covered in the morning press. Now many come out first thing in the morning and seem a poor alternative to the national press.

cian

Of course it helps if you live in a town with a significant amount of daily news. In most towns and city's there's simply not enough news to sustain daily interest. Here in Brighton (*) the local newspaper does a free weekly, and even that struggles to fill itself with interesting stories.

* The Argus being notorious locally for its astonishingly surreal headlines, with only a vague connection to the actual story. Its a dying art form.

Jasper Milvain

Igor: evening papers are worse because they have fewer readers as well as having fewer readers because they're worse. In the late 1980s, the big ones still had district offices all over the place, lots of localised editions, and presses of their own that put the deadline for the Late Final well into the afternoon. They were nonetheless well into a readership decline. They then sustained their profits by hollowing themselves out, with the results you now see. (Losing local competition made them complacent, too: I bet the Yorkshire Evening Post is sharper in the years before the closure of the Yorkshire Evening News.)

Richard J

TBF, the Yorkshire Evening Post does have some sub-sets of competition in certain towns - the Bradford T&A, for example.

john b

Of course it helps if you live in a town with a significant amount of daily news

This is probably a point in the Baltimore Sun's favour.

Evening papers are worse because they have fewer readers as well as having fewer readers because they're worse

An early Yes Minister episode (1981 maybe) featured Hacker's daughter doing a nude sit-in somewhere or other, scheduled for 4pm so that she'd miss the evening papers (which, pace Wooley, "nobody reads") and reach the dailys. I suppose that was a transition phase, under which large swathes of Britain had evening papers, but the Standard was the only one that anyone read.

Igor Belanov

The Yorkshire Evening Post is a bit of a misnomer TBH Richard. It does sell across Yorkshire, but it's really a paper for Leeds and its environs. Bradford has a strong local identity of its own.

Richard J

True - growing up in a dormitory town for both Leeds and Bradford, but in the latter's boundaries, taking the Yorkshire Evening Post was a definite statement of a certain engagement with the pan-Yorkshire elite. Or, I guess, that you just supported Leeds.

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