The Sun (United Kingdom)
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Logo of The Sun
|Type||Daily newspaper (7 days from Feb 26, 2012)|
|Political alignment||Populist, right-wing|
|Headquarters||3 Thomas More Square, London|
|Circulation||2,751,219 (January 2012)|
The Sun is a daily national tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and owned by News Corporation. Sister editions are published in Glasgow (The Scottish Sun) and Dublin (The Irish Sun). It has the tenth-largest circulation of any newspaper in the world and the largest circulation of any daily newspaper in the United Kingdom.
The Sun had an average daily circulation of 2,751,219 copies in January 2012. Between July and December 2010 it had an average daily readership of approximately 7.6 million, of whom approximately 2.65 million were in the ABC1 demographic and 4.9 million in the C2DE demographic.
The Sun has been involved in a number of controversies in its history, including its coverage of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster, falsely accusing Elton John of having had sexual relationships with rent boys, and its attitude towards mental health issues and homosexuality.
On 17 February 2012, Rupert Murdoch announced via an email to staff that The Sun on Sunday would launch "very soon". The paper would employ a number of former News of the World journalists. The first edition appeared on February 26, 2012.
The Sun before Murdoch
The Sun was first published as a broadsheet on 15 September 1964 – with a logo featuring a glowing orange disc. It was launched by owners IPC (International Publishing Corporation) to replace the failing Daily Herald. Intended to add a readership of 'social radicals' to the Herald's 'political radicals', 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.
In 1969, IPC decided to sell. The tycoon Robert Maxwell, eager to buy a British newspaper, 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 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 acquired the newspaper. 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. He would later remark: "I am constantly amazed at the ease with which I entered British newspapers."
The Daily Herald had been printed in Manchester since 1930, as was the Sun after its launch in 1964. but Murdoch stopped printing in Manchester in 1969 which put the ageing Bouverie Street presses under extreme pressure as circulation grew.
The early Murdoch years
Murdoch appointed Larry Lamb as his first editor. Lamb was scathing in his opinion of the Mirror, where he had recently been employed as a senior sub-editor. He shared Murdoch's view that the measure of a paper's quality was best measured by its sales, and he regarded the Mirror as overstaffed, and primarily aimed at an ageing readership. Lamb hastily recruited a staff of about 125 reporters, who were mostly selected for their availability rather than their ability.
This was about a quarter of what the Mirror then employed, and Murdoch had to draft in staff on loan from his Australian papers. Murdoch immediately relaunched The Sun as a tabloid, and ran it as a sister paper to the News of the World. The Sun used the same printing presses, and the two papers were now managed together at senior executive levels.
The tabloid Sun first published on 17 November 1969, with a front page headlined "HORSE DOPE SENSATION" – an 'exclusive' in which a racing trainer admitted he was doping his horses. The paper copied its rival The Daily Mirror in several ways. It was the same size and its masthead had the title in white on a red rectangle of the same colour as the Daily Mirror. The Mirror's "Lively Letters" was matched by "Liveliest Letters", and the comic strip "Garth" by a comic strip "Scarth" featuring a frequently naked woman.
Later strips included Striker, set in the world of football; Axa, about a barbarian woman in a post-apocalyptic world; Hägar the Horrible, the comic adventures of a home-loving Viking warrior; and George and Lynne, a domestic gag-a-day strip about a couple and their friends and neighbours. George and Lynne were normally pictured naked but discreetly covered.
Sex was used as an important element in marketing the paper from the start. While the Daily Mirror frequently featured a pin-up photograph of a young woman in bikini or lingerie, ostensibly as a fashion item, The Sun dispensed with the excuses; it featured what were openly glamour photographs of women, wearing fewer clothes than their Mirror counterparts. When the first topless Page Three girl appeared on 17 November 1970, German-born Stephanie Rahn, little offence was caused as 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 Three 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. Sexually related features such as "Do Men Still Want To Marry A Virgin?" and "The Way into a Woman's Bed" began to appear. Serialisations of erotic books were frequent; the publication of extracts from The Sensuous Woman, at a time when copies of the book were being seized by Customs, produced a scandal and a gratifying amount of free publicity.
Politically, The Sun in the early Murdoch years, remained nominally Labour. It supported the Labour Party led by Harold Wilson in the 1970 General Election, with the headline "Why It Must Be Labour" but by February 1974 it was calling for a vote for the Conservative Party while suggesting that it might support a Labour Party led by James Callaghan or Roy Jenkins. In the October election an editorial asserted: "ALL our instincts are left rather than right and we would vote for any able politician who would describe himself as a Social Democrat."
The editor, Larry Lamb, was originally from a Labour background, with a socialist upbringing while his temporary replacement Bernard Shrimsley (1972–75) was a middle-class uncommitted Conservative. An extensive advertising campaign on the ITV network in this period, voiced by actor Christopher Timothy, may have helped The Sun to overtake the Daily Mirror's circulation in 1978. Despite the industrial relations of the 1970s – the so-called "Spanish practices" of the print unions – The Sun was very profitable, enabling Murdoch to expand his operations to the United States from 1973.
In 1979 the paper endorsed Margaret Thatcher in the year's general election, at the end of a process which had been underway for some time, though The Sun had not initially been enthusiastic for Mrs Thatcher. On 3 May 1979, it ran the unequivocal front page headline, "VOTE TORY THIS TIME".
The Sun's sales grew during the 1980s and the paper was "more outrageous, opinionated and irreverent than anything ever produced in Britain" under the editorship of Kelvin MacKenzie. Bingo, introduced in 1981, was a key driver of the circulation rise.
The Sun became an ardent supporter of Margaret Thatcher and Conservative Party policies and actions, including the Falklands War. The coverage "captured the zeitgeist", according to Roy Greenslade, Assistant Editor at the time though privately an opponent of the war, but was also "xenophobic, bloody-minded, ruthless, often reckless, black-humoured and ultimately triumphalist." One of the paper's best known 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". The headline was changed for later editions when the extent of Argentine casualties became known. Sunday Times reporter John Shirley witnessed copies of this edition of The Sun being thrown overboard by sailors and marines on HMS Fearless.
These years were marked by "spectacularly malicious coverage" of the Labour Party by The Sun and other newspapers. During the general election of 1983 The Sun ran a front page featuring an unflattering photograph of Michael Foot, then aged almost 70, claiming he was unfit to be Prime Minister on grounds of his age, appearance and policies, alongside the headline "Do You Really Want This Old Fool To Run Britain?" A year later, in 1984, The Sun made clear its enthusiastic support for the re-election of Ronald Reagan as president in the USA. Reagan was two weeks off his 74th birthday when he started his second term, in January 1985.
On 1 March 1984 the newspaper extensively quoted 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. The story, which appeared on the day of the Chesterfield byelection in which Benn was standing, was discredited when the psychiatrist quoted by The Sun publicly denounced the article and described the false quotes attributed to him as "absurd", The Sun having apparently fabricated the entire piece. The newspaper made frequent scathing attacks on what the paper called the 'loony left' element within the Labour Party and on institutions supposedly controlled by it. Ken Livingstone, the leader of the left-wing Greater London Council was described as "the most odious man in Britain" in October 1981.
The Sun, during the Miners' strike of 1984–85, supported the police and the Thatcher government against the striking NUM miners, and in particular the union's president, 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, seeing the cheap smear, refused to print it. 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".
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, substituting the electrician's union for the print unions as his production staff's representatives 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). That year, Clare Short attempted in vain to persuade Parliament to outlaw the pictures on Page Three and gained opprobrium from the newspaper for her stand.
Other stories in the 1980s
During this period, The Sun gained a reputation for running stories based on few facts. The most blatant example gave the paper one of its best remembered on 13 March 1986: "FREDDIE STARR ATE MY HAMSTER". 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." 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.
In 1987, The Sun falsely accused homosexual pop musician 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 £1 million 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". 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 January 1989 story about the first homosexual kiss on BBC television soap opera EastEnders "EastBenders", describing the kiss between Colin Russell and Guido Smith as a "a homosexual love scene between yuppie poofs ... when millions of children were watching".
On 17 November 1989, The Sun headlined a page 2 news story titled “STRAIGHT SEX CANNOT GIVE YOU AIDS – OFFICIAL." The Sun favourably cited the opinions of Lord Kilbracken, a member of the All Parliamentary Group on AIDS. Lord Kilbracken said that only one person out of the 2,372 AIDS-infected individuals mentioned in a specific Department of Health report was not a member of a "high risk group", such as homosexuals and recreational drug users. The Sun also ran an editorial further arguing that "At last the truth can be told... the risk of catching AIDS if you are heterosexual is "statistically invisible". In other words impossible. So now we know – everything else is homosexual propaganda." Although many other British press services covered Lord Kilbracken's public comments, none of them made the argument that the Sun did in its editorial and none of them presented Lord Kilbracken's ideas without context or criticism.
Critics stated that both The Sun and Lord Kilbracken cherry-picked the results from one specific study while ignoring other data reports on HIV infection and not just AIDS infection, which the critics viewed as unethical politicisation of a medical issue. Lord Kilbracken himself criticised The Sun's editorial and the headline of its news story; he stated that while he thought that gay people were more at risk of developing AIDS it was still wrong to imply that no one else could catch the disease. The Press Council condemned the Sun for committing what it called a "gross distortion". The Sun later ran an apology, which they ran on Page 28. Journalist David Randall argued in the textbook The Universal Journalist that the Sun's story was one of the worst cases of journalistic malpractice in recent history, putting its own readers in harm's way.
The Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath
At the end of the decade, The Sun's coverage of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster in Sheffield on 15 April 1989, in which 96 people died as a result of their injuries, proved to be, as the paper later admitted, the "most terrible" blunder in its history.
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." 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 in front of TV cameras and a mass of sports reporters, no evidence was 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 more than twenty years later (around 12,000). 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, aired in September 2008, that many Liverpudlians will not even take the newspaper for free, and those who do may simply burn or tear it up, even though this was almost 20 years after the incident.
On 7 July 2004, in response to verbal attacks in Liverpool on Wayne Rooney, just before his transfer from Everton to Manchester United, 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 (who was still only three years old at the time of Hillsborough) should not be punished for its "past sins". In January 2005, The Sun's managing editor Graham Dudman admitting the Hillsborough coverage was "the worst mistake in our history", 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".
In May 2006, Kelvin MacKenzie, Sun editor at the time of the Hillsborough disaster, returned to the paper as a columnist. Furthermore, on 11 January 2007, MacKenzie stated, while a panellist on BBC1's Question Time, that the apology he made about the coverage 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 whether some Liverpool fans urinated on the police, or robbed victims.
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The Sun remained loyal to Thatcher right up to her resignation in November 1990, despite the party's fall in popularity over the previous year following the introduction of the Community Charge (popularly known as the poll tax). This change to the way local government is funded was vociferously supported by the newspaper, despite widespread opposition, (some from Conservative MPs), which is seen as having contributed to Thatcher's own downfall. The tax was quickly repealed by her successor John Major, whom The Sun initially supported enthusiastically, believing he was a radical Thatcherite – despite the economy having entered recession at this time. The Sun labelled those attending public protests opposing the tax as "thugs".
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 on 17 September 1992, as well as the recent revalations about MP David Mellor being involved in a sex scandal. A month later, on 14 October, it attacked Michael Heseltine for the mass coal mine closures.
Despite its initial opposition to the closures, until 1997, the newspaper repeatedly called for the implementation of further Thatcherite policies, such as Royal Mail privatisation,[verification needed] and social security cutbacks, with leaders such as "Peter Lilley is right, we can't carry on like this",[verification needed] It showed its hostility to the EU, and its approval of public spending cuts, tax cuts, and promotion of right-wing ministers to the cabinet, with leaders such as "More of the Redwood, not Deadwood".
The Sun attacked Labour leader John Smith in February 1994, for saying that more British troops should be sent to Bosnia. The Sun's comment was that "The only serious radicals in British politics these days are the likes of Redwood, Lilley and Portillo".[verification needed] 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".
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).
On 22 January 1997, The Sun accused the 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?" and called the planned windfall tax, which was later imposed by the Labour government, "wrongheaded". In February 1997 it told Sir Edward Heath (still an MP) to stand down for supporting a National Minimum wage.
Support for 'New Labour'
The Sun switched support to Labour on 18 March 1997, six weeks before the General Election victory which saw Labour leader Tony Blair become Prime Minister with a large parliamentary majority, despite the paper having attacked 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 New Labour policies, such as the Minimum Wage and Devolution, it believed Blair to be "the breath of fresh air this great country needs." John Major's Conservatives, it said, were "tired, divided and rudderless". Blair, who had radically altered his party's image and policies, noting the influence the paper could have over its readers' political thinking, had courted it (and Murdoch) for some time by granting exclusive interviews and writing columns.
In exchange for Rupert Murdoch's support, Blair agreed not to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism – which John Major had withdrawn the country from in September 1992 after barely two years. Cabinet Minister Peter Mandelson was "outed" by Matthew Parris (a former Sun columnist) on BBC TV's Newsnight in November 1998. Misjudging public response, The Sun's 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".
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 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.
Despite being a persistent critic of some of the government's policies, the paper supported Labour in both subsequent elections the party won. 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 (opinion polls had shown a wide Labour lead since late 1992), and if it had urged its readers to vote Conservative, afterwards it would have been seen as having backed a loser. For the 2005 general election, The Sun backed Blair and Labour for a third consecutive election win and vowed to give him "one last chance" to fulfil his promises, despite berating him for several weaknesses including a failure to control immigration. However, it did speak of its hope that the Tories (led by Michael Howard) would one day be fit for a return to government. This election (Blair had declared it would be his last as prime minister) resulted in Labour's third successive win but with a much reduced majority.
The Sun's coverage of Britain's military interventions has been supportive 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."
Editorial and production issues in the 2000s
Although the anger generated by Page 3 had waned in a generally more permissive society, when Rebekah Wade (now Brooks) became editor in 2003, it was thought it might be dropped. Wade had tried to persuade David Yelland, her immediate predecessors in the job, to scrap the feature, but a model who shared her first name was used on her first day in the post. In 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.
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 had 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".
The Sun has been openly antagonistic towards other European nations, particularly the French and Germans. During the 1980s and 1990s, the nationalities were routinely described in copy and headlines as "frogs", "krauts" or "hun". As the paper is opposed to the EU it has 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", 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 Gaza War. 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, who had been posting to the forum under the pseudonym "Abuislam", 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.
On 9 December 2010, The Sun published a front-page story claiming that terrorist group Al-Qaeda had threatened a terrorist attack on Granada Television in Manchester to disrupt the episode of the soap opera Coronation Street to be transmitted live that evening. The paper cited unnamed sources, claiming "cops are throwing a ring of steel around tonight's live episode of Coronation Street over fears it has been targeted by Al-Qaeda." Later that morning, however, Greater Manchester Police categorically denied having "been made aware of any threat from Al-Qaeda or any other proscribed organisation." The Sun published a small correction on 28 December, admitting "that while cast and crew were subject to full body searches, there was no specific threat from Al-Qaeda as we reported." The apology had been negotiated by the Press Complaints Commission. For the day following the 2011 Norway attacks The Sun produced an early edition blaming the massacre on al-Qaeda. Later the perpetrator was revealed to be Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian nationalist.
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 Times and Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Wall Street Journal Europe (also now a Murdoch newspaper), London's Evening Standard and local papers. Northern printing had earlier been 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 allowed all the titles to be produced with every page in full colour from 2008.The Broxbourne plant is capable of producing one million copies an hour of a 120-page tabloid newspaper.
In early 2011 the company vacated the Wapping building, which in November 2011 was put on the market for a reputed £200 million.
2009: The Sun returns to the Conservatives
Politically, the paper's stance was less clear under Prime Minister Gordon Brown who had succeeded Blair in June 2007. Its editorials were critical of many of Brown's policies and often more supportive of those of Conservative leader David Cameron. 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.
With 'Broken Britain' controversies on issues like crime, immigration and public service failures in the news, on 30 September 2009, following Brown's speech at the Labour Party Conference, The Sun, under the banner "Labour's Lost It" announced that it no longer supported the Labour Party. "The Sun believes – and prays – that the Conservative leadership can put the great back into Great Britain", though the Scottish Sun was more equivocal in its editorial.
That day at the Labour Party Conference, Union Leader Tony Woodley responded by ripping up a copy of that edition of The Sun remarking as he did so in reference to the newspaper's Hillsborough Disaster controversy: "In Liverpool we learnt a long time ago what to do". 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. One attack on Gordon Brown backfired at around this time. After criticising him for mis-spelling a dead soldier's mother's name, The Sun was then forced to apologise for mis-spelling the same name on their website.
The Scottish Sun did not back either Labour or the Conservatives, with its editorial stating it was "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?". Dinsmore also stated that the paper supported the Union, and was unlikely to back the Scottish National Party.
During the campaign for the United Kingdom general election, 2010, The Independent ran ads declaring that "Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election – you will." In response James Murdoch and Rebekah Wade "appeared unannounced and uninvited on the editorial floor" of the Independent, and had an energetic conversation with its editor Simon Kelner. Several days later the Independent reported The Sun's failure to report its own YouGov poll result which said that "if people thought Mr Clegg's party had a significant chance of winning the election" the Liberal Democrats would win 49% of the vote, and with it a landslide majority.
On election day (6 May 2010), The Sun urged its readers to vote for David Cameron's "modern and positive" Conservatives in order to save Britain from "disaster" which the paper thought the country would face if the Labour government was re-elected. The election ended in the first hung parliament for 34 years, with the Tories having the most seats and votes but being 20 seats short of an overall majority. They finally came to power on 11 May when Gordon Brown stepped down as prime minister, paving the way for David Cameron to become prime minister by forming a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
Fallout from the News of the World scandal
Following the News of the World phone hacking affair that led to the closure of that paper on 10 July 2011, there was speculation that News International would launch a Sunday edition of The Sun to replace the News of the World. The internet URLs sunonsunday.co.uk, thesunonsunday.co.uk and thesunonsunday.com were registered on 5 July 2011 by News International Newspapers Limited. A similar URL sunonsunday.com is not affiliated, having been registered in Italy on 24 September 2007.
On 18 July 2011, the LulzSecurity group hacked The Sun's website, where they posted a fake news story of Rupert Murdoch's death before redirecting the website to their Twitter page. The group also targeted the website of The Times.
On 28 January 2012, police arrested four current and former staff members of The Sun, as part of a probe in which journalists paid police officers for information; a police officer was also arrested in the probe. The Sun staffers arrested were crime editor Mike Sullivan, head of news Chris Pharo, former deputy editor Fergus Shanahan, and former managing editor Graham Dudman, who since became a columnist and media writer. All five arrested were held on suspicion of corruption. Police also searched the offices of News International, the publishers of The Sun, as part of a continuing investigation into the News of the World scandal.
Coinciding with a visit to The Sun newsroom on 17 February 2012, Murdoch announced via an email that the arrested journalists, who had been suspended, would return to work as nothing had been proved against them. He also told staff in the email that The Sun on Sunday would be launched "very shortly"; it was launched on 26 February 2012.
On 27 February 2012, the day after the debut of The Sun on Sunday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers told the Leveson Inquiry that police were investigating a "network of corrupt officials" as part of their inquiries into phone hacking and police corruption. She said evidence suggested a "culture of illegal payments" at The Sun authorised at a senior level.
- "Reporter of the Year" (John Kay, 2001, 2004; Trevor Kavanagh, 2005; Oliver Harvey, 2006; Tom Newton Dunn, 2008)
- "Scoop of the Year" (Briony Warden, "Baby traders", 2002; Tom Newton Dunn, "Friendly Fire", 2008)
- What The Papers Say Awards "Photographer of the Year", (Peter Jordan, 2007)
- "Front Page of the Year" ('Eclipse', 2000; 'I'm only here for De Beers', 2001; 'Hutton Report leaked', 2005; 'Harry the Nazi', 2006)
- "Sports Photographer of the Year" (Richard "Dickie" Pelham, 2000, 2009)
- "Cudlipp Award" for excellence in tabloid journalism (2000, 2005, 2008)
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. 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 3.5 million books worth nearly £20 million into the 98 per cent of UK schools which registered for the scheme. The achievement won The Sun a Business In The Community award.
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. 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, and by Education Secretary Alan Johnson, who hailed it as a breakthrough for science teachers. The book was a finalist in 2007 for the Royal Society Prizes for Science Books General Prize.
The Sun has used photo manipulation to alter the composition of news photos. In a July 2008 front-page image of Prince William on a small boat, a person that otherwise had a prominent position on the image was removed outright by editing, altering the photo. The online version of The Sun and another newspaper, The Metro, displayed the unaltered photo.
A reporter working for The Sun was arrested and taken to a south-west London police station at 10.30am on 4 November 2011. The man is the sixth person to be arrested in the UK under the News International related legal probe, Operation Elveden. In January 2012, two current and two former employees were arrested.
- Sydney Jacobson (1964–65, previously editor of the Daily Herald before the name change)
- Dick Dinsdale (1965–69)
- Larry Lamb (1969–72)
- Bernard Shrimsley (1972–75; Lamb was "editorial director", supervising both the Sun and News of the World)
- Larry Lamb (1975–80; Lamb took an enforced six-month sabbatical before being sacked by Murdoch)
- Kelvin MacKenzie (1981–94)
- Stuart Higgins (1994–98)
- David Yelland (1998–2003)
- Rebekah Wade (2003–09)
- Dominic Mohan (2009–)
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. The launch editor was Jack Irvine who had been recruited from The Daily Record. Irvine went on to become Managing Director of News International Scotland before launching his own communications company, Media House International, in 1991
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 Britain, 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". The Scottish Sun has now voiced its support for the SNP in the 2011 election.
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 did not even meet until the day after The Sun made this false report.
As of May 2010, daily circulation is approximately 340,000.
On 19 April 2011, the Scottish Sun once again came out in support for the SNP at the 2011 Holyrood elections, stating "Play it again, Salm ... He is ambitious for this country and has the drive, the personality and the policies to lead us through these troubled times," in reference to SNP leader Alex Salmond's pitch for a second term of office.
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 British 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 British editions. One notable example is how the release of the film The Wind That Shakes the Barley was covered, with the British editions describing it as "designed to drag the reputation of our nation through the mud" and "the most pro-IRA ever", whereas the Irish edition praised the film describing it as giving "the Brits a tanning". It uses a slightly bigger sheet size than the British version, and costs €1.
In June 2008, The Sun became the first national newspaper[dubious ] to produce a Polish language version (Polski Sun). Six editions were produced for Poland's group matches in the Euro 2008 football tournament.
Earlier and other newspapers with 'Sun' in the title
- The first newspaper to carry The Sun masthead was published (by John Heriot) in 1792 by the Pitt government to counter the pro-revolutionary press at that time. Publication ceased in 1806
- The first modern use of the word Sun as a British 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
- 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
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- ^ Greenslade, Ch. 9
- ^ Greenslade, Ch. 9
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- ^ The Sun, 17 June 1970, cited by Roy Greenslade Press Gang: How Newwspapers Make Money From Propaganda, London: Pan Macmillan, 2003 , p.235
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- ^ Nick Davies Flat Earth News, London: Chatto & Windus, p.198
- ^ a b Sun still shines for Blair", BBC News, 8 March 2001;
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- ^ The Sun – 16 April 1986.
- ^ "1987: Three on the trot for Thatcher", BBC News Vote 2001. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
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- ^ "The Sun Says" (editorial), The Sun, 7 July 2004
- ^ The Sun, 19 April 1989
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- ^ "Maggie is the Tories' Only Hope", The Sun, 29 October 1990, cited in Roy Greenslade Press Gang: How Newspaper's Make Profits From Propanganda, London: Macmillan, p.548, 740, n.59
- ^ "Major By a Mile", "Why We Say It Must Be Major", The Sun, 26 November 1990, p.1, 6, cited by Roy Greenslade Press Gang: How Newspaper's Make Profits From Propanganda, London: Macmillan, p.550, 741, n.78
- ^ The Sun newspaper – 17 September 1992
- ^ The Sun – 3 November 1994
- ^ The Sun – July 1993
- ^ The Sun – 1994
- ^ The Sun – February 1994
- ^ The Sun – 14 January 1994
- ^ News International Circulation Reports Archive
- ^ The Sun, 22 January 1997
- ^ The Sun, 15 February 1997
- ^ The Sun, 26 February 1997
- ^ a b From The Sun archive, edition 18 March 1997
- ^ "A Very Special Relationship". BBC Radio 4. 5 February 2007. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/pip/tor8v/?focuswin. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
- ^ "Sun accused of Swan Bake 'myth-making' – Press Gazette". Press Gazette. 19 December 2003. http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=24624§ioncode=1. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
- ^ Blair secures historic third term BBC News, 6 May 2005
- ^ "Job well done". The Sun. 18 December 2008. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/sun_says/article2053657.ece. Retrieved 23 December 200.
- ^ Perry, John (2005). Page 3, The Complete History Laid Bare. UK: News International. p. 160. ISBN 1845792297.
- ^ Gibson, Owen (23 September 2003). "Sun on the ropes over 'Bonkers Bruno' story". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media). http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2003/sep/23/pressandpublishing.mentalhealth. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
- ^ "The Sun online catches the Jade Goody bug". Holy Moly!. http://www.holymoly.co.uk/news/28/the-sun-online-catches-the-jade-goody-bug-1134.html. Retrieved 19 January 2009. [dead link]
- ^ "How Extremism Works". Private Eye (London: Pressdram Ltd) (No. 1228): p. 4. 21 January 2009.
- ^ The Sun, 9 December 2010, News Corporation
- ^ "Police dismiss report of Al Qaeda threat to Coronation Street". This is Lancashire. 9 December 2010. http://www.thisislancashire.co.uk/news/8728644.Police_dismiss_report_of_Al_Qaeda_threat_to_Coronation_Street/. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
- ^ "Coronation Street". The Sun (News Corporation). 28 December 2010. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3320002/Coronation-Street.html. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
- ^ Greenslade, Roy (29 December 2010). "The Sun admits publishing false story". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2010/dec/29/sun-coronation-street. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
- ^ "Minute of the meeting with Mr Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, News Corporation". Inquiry into Media Ownership and the News. House of Commons Select Committee on Communications. 17 September 2007. pp. 10. http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/us.doc. [dead link]
- ^ "Which political parties do the newspapers support?" Supanet
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- ^ "The Sun Says: Labour’s lost it". The Sun (News International). 30 September 2009. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2661063/The-Sun-Says-Labours-lost-it.html. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
- ^ "Harman turns fire on Sun decision". BBC News. 30 September 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8282535.stm?ls. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- ^ 'I can't believe I've been brought down to the level of having an argument with the Prime Minister of my own country' The Sun, 10 November 2009
- ^ Sun apologises for misspelling name of soldier's mother on website The Guardian, 13 November 2009
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- ^ Murdoch-Wade posse crash Independent's office – that's pretty uncool, isn't it? The Guardian, 22 April 2010
- ^ 'Sun' censored poll that showed support for Lib Dems The Independent, 23 April 2010,
- ^ "Can Britain take five more years of hard Labour", The Sun, 6 May 2010
- ^ "Cameron and Clegg: We are united". BBC News. 12 May 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8676607.stm.
- ^ "The News of the World is sacrificed – how long before we have The Sun on Sunday?". The Daily Telegraph. UK. 7 July 2011. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/davidhughes/100095915/the-news-of-the-world-is-sacrificed-how-long-before-we-have-the-sun-on-sunday/. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
- ^ "Sun on Sunday set for launch following NOTW closure". Marketing Week. 8 July 2011. http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/sectors/media/sun-on-sunday-set-for-launch-following-notw-closure/3028241.article. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
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- 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
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