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November 25, 2011



the only papers which their readers would miss are the ones which have have managed to establish their names and the word ‘reader’ as a social type:

This is exactly the example I remember hearing at university on the distinction between transmissive and ritual communication.

Transmissive is where you actually want and need the information contained in the medium: train timetables, TV listings, that sort of thing.

Ritual communication is where you don't actually want to know the answer, you just want to be seen to ask the question. Like reading your kid the bedtime story that he's heard six times already. There's no actual information transfer going on there; the kid already knows what's going to happen. It's a way of reaffirming his and your positions as parent and child - or, mutatis mutandis, as Guardian journalist and Guardian reader.

Lives were ruined, the cops were bent out of shape, politics was corrupted, all to satisfy what turned out to be an incredibly vague, marginal urge to while away an hour or two with some gaudy crap.

The whole thing, IIRC, started with a Royal Diary item noting that Prince William was borrowing some video kit from a friend of his with the BBC - a nothing story, but the only way it could have got out was if someone had been listening to voicemail.

"Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"


I would have thought that the Times' target audience was maybe even more identifiable than the others': it's Public School World.


I thought that was the Telegraph?

Cue Jim Hacker:
Don't tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers. The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country. The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country. The Times is read by the people who actually do run the country. The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country. The Financial Times is read by people who own the country. The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country. And The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?
Bernard: Sun readers don't care who runs the country, as long as she's got big tits.

A bit out of date now...


I thought that was the Telegraph?

Less so, I think, though I'm sure a fair proportion of the Telegraph's readership attended such schools, just as I'm sure a fair proportion of the Times' readership didn't.

chris y

Interesting in retrospect that even in those days Jay and Lynn couldn't think of anything to say about people who read the Express.


Interesting, too, how things have changed; I can't see anyone ranking the Mirror that highly, or the Mail that low, these days.


On the upside:according to this 75% of the Mail's readership is over 45, and almost 40% over 65. (Which I suspect of being eerily similar to the readership age profile of the Express when Yes Minister was being aired...)


P.S. This compares with the Guardian's readership profile of 50% over 45 and 17% over 65.

Mind, there are other reasons than death for stopping buying a newspaper....


Well, yes, but you have to compare that with the other papers, all of which skew old IIRC.

"According to the National Readership Survey, the average age of daily newspapers readers ranges from 39 at The Daily Star (the lowest) to 57 at The Daily Telegraph (the highest.) At The Daily Mail the average age of readers is 54, at The Times it is 49, at The Sun it is 43, and The Guardian and The Independent it is 44."


(The NRS data's subscription only, boo sucks).

chris y

Mind, there are other reasons than death for stopping buying a newspaper...

Getting an internet connection?


I think the Mail still is read by the wives of people who run the country. Or at least those who live in the home counties/south coast.

I suspect the Times readership changed quite drastically when they turned it into a freesheet. These days I suspect much of its readership think they're Jeremy Clarkson, or wish they were.

44 isn't skewing old. If you take, I dunno, 75 as the age at which we all die, and 20 as the age when people might start buying newspapers; then 42.5 is bang in the middle. 44 looks pretty respectable.


Getting an internet connection?

Well, no not really,not in my case anyway. It was moving to home working for me, and spending most of my day in my back bedroom on the computer, rather than traveling to work in an office.

I seem to vaguely recall a recent internet conversation (perhaps even here, I dunno) where someone pointed out that the prime time for reading a paper was on the way to work and that there are, ahem, certain risk factors involved in whipping out an expensive phone or ipad to check the web on a lot of public transport,even if you can get a connection which you can't on the tube.

Having taken one of my very occasional rush hour tube forays into town today, I saw absolutely no one reading a paid for paper, but I did see carriage after carriage of folk glancing at freesheets...


Meanwhile, the producer of the Berliner medium-format presses that theguardian uses, just went bust


By contrast, what is a ‘Times reader’ exactly?

A Guardian or Telegraph reader in denial.

Chris Williams

"people who read the Express" - "their mistresses"?

john b

Surely 'Sun-reader' and the Sun also fit alongside Guardian, Mail and Telegraph ('small-c-conservative, aspirational-working-class, voted for Mrs Thatcher in 1983 and Tony Blair in 1997' would be my stereotype, approximately)?

The difference between the two NGN tabloids is that the Sun is aggressively political and hence 1) shapes/reflects its target readers' views; 2) alienates people who aren't its target readers, whereas the NoTW was always more salacious than political, and hence had a mildly titillating appeal to everyone (anecdata: my dad took the Independent every day, the IoS and NoTW on Sundays, and couldn't stand the Sun).

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