Abrupt end to 168 years of titillating journalism

Abrupt end to 168 years of titillating journalism

The tabloid will be shut on Sunday, after 168 years of print following uproar over phone hacking. Priced at three pence, its first edition was out on October 1, 1843. Publisher John Browne Bell’s formula was fast, titillating news, with an emphasis on sensation and sex.

It soon started doing well. By 1880, it was selling 30,000 copies a week. Forty years later, its circulation was over three million. At its peak, in the 1950s, the paper would sell over eight million copies, the Guardian reported.

The tabloid eventually became the biggest-selling Sunday newspaper, with 7.4 million readers each week. Given the paper’s reputation, in early 20th century, Frederick Greenwood, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, reportedly told the paper’s proprietor and managing editor George Riddell that he had looked at the paper, “and then I put it in the waste paper basket. And then I thought, ‘If I leave it there the cook may read it’—so I burned it!”

Time magazine said in May 1941: “Each Sunday morning to more than a third of Britain’s 11 million homes, goes a juicy dish of the week’s doings in divorce, scandal, abduction, assault, murder and sport.

“Farmers, labourers and millworkers cherish its sinful revelations; so also do royalty, cabinet ministers, tycoons.

“Without News of the World, Sunday morning in Britain would lack something as familiar as church bells.”

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