I stayed an extra day to record another singer on the Here Lies Love project. It’s almost done — the double CD, that is.
The hotel I’m staying in gives out two newspapers in the mornings for free — The Daily Telegraph and The Irish Independent. I am reminded just how many newspapers there are in this relatively small country. It’s staggering how the population here can support so many papers, tabloids and broadsheets. Newsagents must lose their minds occasionally.
The Daily Telegraph
London Evening Standard
Yorkshire Evening Post
The Birmingham Post
Bristol Evening Post
Hull Daily Mail
Liverpool Daily Post
News of the World
The Irish Independent
The Dundee Courier
The Glasgow Herald
And more… !!!! Unbelievable!
How is this range possible in an age when most newspapers are watching their sales dwindle daily, and are desperate for some survival strategy?
My guess is that two factors allow this plurality to exist in the UK, at least for now. The country is proudly regional — the Welsh, the Scots and the Londoners all see themselves as very different, and not just in class (though that factors in too), but also in their specific local interests and sensibilities.
Then there is class. It’s never gone away here — don’t believe what they tell you — and the paper you read obviously says a lot about your class, personal interests, politics and aspirations. That’s true everywhere, but what’s different here is that there are more distinct class subdivisions — you can be identified by your job, accent, dress, football team and what paper you read. The subtle distinctions escape me — though the tacky scandals and topless girls of the Murdoch-owned Sun scream lower class, and the redesigned Guardian shouts middle class smartie.
Given the number of papers, you can imagine the competition is fierce for stories that will attract readers — so it comes as no surprise that News of the World reporters (another Murdoch paper) have tapped into the cell phone lines of celebrities and royals. They will indeed stop at nothing. In my opinion they’re also skilled at turning on the charm when they meet you, then making outrageous comments about your appearance and personal life when they turn in their copy. Everything needs to be embellished just a little more than what the competition might write.
There are also plenty of headlines about fat celebrities, cheating footballers, drug addled singers and poor sods who beat their kids to death (this week). A cat stuck in a tree would make headlines if it could be spun in some sexy way. Any story makes the rounds like a house on fire — which is why bands shoot to popularity so fast here and similarly disappear almost as fast.
Oddly, there is no daily or even weekly paper for the left wing bohemian class, like Libération in Paris, The Village Voice in NY, or other alternative weeklies elsewhere. Members of that demographic, who fancy themselves as being beyond class, have been suspiciously left out. Time Out, which originated in London, doesn’t really count, as it and others are more listings mags than news and reviews. Private Eye is unique here… a newsprint political humor weekly that requires a lot of knowledge of the players in order to get the jokes. Don’t know if anything like that could survive elsewhere.