By Claire Lomas
Daily tabloid newspaper The Sun, published on Monday 17th November 1969 has now been one of the UK’s most popular tabloids for 40 years. The newspaper was originally printed by the International Press Corporation as a broadsheet to replace The Daily Herald which unfortunately ceased publication in 1964.
Rupert Murdoch re-launched it as The Sun, promising IPC that he would bring out a ‘straight forward, honest newspaper’ – whether people believe he has kept his promise is a different story..! The Sun is now published by News Group Newspapers, which is owned by News International, a subsidiary of News Corporation owned by Murdoch.
The Sun is one of the most popular daily English newspapers in the world, with the biggest circulation in the UK. From the 3rd August 2009 to the 30th August 2009, its circulation was recorded as 3,128,501.
The Sun’s target audience are people within the C2DE demographic – so the skilled working class/working class, manual workers on the lowest levels of pay. In terms of the number of people reading The Sun, on an average day over January to June this year readership figures rose to 7,986,000.
Between January and June again this year, the amount of readership within the ABC1 (upper middle class, lower middle class) demographic was 3,066,000, and for the C2DEs it was 4,920,000 – so this illustrates that the paper is more popular with the more working class backgrounds. Within the same period of time, 1,541,000 of these were in the 25-34 age range and 2,697,000 of the readers were C2DE men and 2,223,000 were women. It could be argued that men are more likely to read The Sun than women given its content of the ‘Page 3’ tradition.
In terms of content, The Sun places an emphasis on entertainment news, celebrities, sport and political scandals. Stories are written in quite a light-hearted way, it makes fun of stories and makes jokes out of some, using headlines to this – especially on the front page. The Sun is very dramatic and very well known for being controversial. You could describe some past headlines and stories as quite sick in a way, but they’re always written with quite a witty approach.
The Sun know their readers of today, they know their readers will be the not very well-educated, working class so writing long, intellectual pieces on politics or business articles like in The Telegraph for example, won’t attract these readers. Instead, they’re more likely to write more simple pieces on such topics. An example being in the 19th November issue, an article on the Queen’s speech. The article was ‘dumbed down’ for its readers, and this was highlighted in the language used. Along the bottom they split up the different sections of the speech (schools, crime etc) and rather than using terms such as ‘the environment’ or ‘eco-friendly’ they chose to use the heading ‘green’ - making it more simple for their readers, assuming they would not understand more intellectual words.
The Sun’s headlines and stories spark emotion; they are all about getting a reaction and provoking their readers. They will twist articles around in a way and blow them up, making them quite over the top. This is shown again, by their cheeky headlines, their play on words. The main stories are quite strong in that the headline will be very big; the language used isn’t just normal/bland language it’s dramatic, and more suited to their readers, using dysphemisms – they’d use ‘knocked up’ in a headline rather than ‘expecting’ or ‘pregnant’. Recently in an article about a severely overweight dog, rather than using ‘obese’ or ‘overweight’, ‘Britain’s FATTEST Dalmatian’ was printed.
Advertisements in the paper tracked over a few days were mainly for cheap internet/broadband, cheap phone contracts, Sainsbury’s adverts, Asda clothing, DFS sofas, Tesco wine adverts, Morrisons adverts and movie adverts. The majority of these are supermarkets, internet and phone deals, alcohol, and house hold appliances. They’re not expensive jewellery adverts or adverts for West End musicals like in The Telegraph for example, because The Sun doesn’t expect its readers to be able to afford or have interest in such things.
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