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- For other uses, see Sun (disambiguation).
The Sun, a tabloid daily newspaper published in the United Kingdom, has the highest circulation of any daily English-language newspaper in the world, standing at around 3,200,000 copies daily in late-2004. The daily readership is just under 8,500,000. It is published by News Group Newspapers of News International, itself a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Despite its mass popularity, many people hold negative views of the paper. They accuse it of being coarse and unprofessional, its journalistic style amateurish and sensationalist, and designed to appeal to individuals of limited intelligence. However, The Sun has more than twice as many readers in the ABC1 (http://www.businessballs.com/demographicsclassifications.htm) demographic than its upmarket stablemate The Times.
The Sun was launched in 1964 as a replacement for the Daily Herald, an ailing left-wing newspaper which Mirror Group Newspapers had bought from Odhams Press and the TUC. The changes did not help circulation and in 1969 the paper was sold to Murdoch. At this point, the newspaper became a tabloid. The News of the World presses were used during the week - Murdoch had bought that Sunday newspaper the previous year - and the two papers were now managed together at the senior executive levels.
The editorial content of the paper was popularised and coarsened (initially remaining loyal to the Labour Party) and the circulation increased, particularly when the Page Three Girl feature changed, on its first anniversary in 1970, from being a glamour pinup to a topless photograph, although "Page Three" was not a daily feature at first.
In the two 1974 elections, the papers attitude to the Labour Party was "agnostic", according to Roy Greenslade in Press Gang (2003); the then editor, Larry (Albert) Lamb, was originally from a Labour background, with a socialist upbringing. Deputy editor Bernard Shrimsley was a middle class (although not committed) Tory. Both Lamb and Shrimsley were essentially bound by the decisions of Rupert Murdoch, who decided to back the Conservatives (See Chippindale, P. & Horrie, C. (1999) Stick It Up Your Punter).
As the Labour government limped on and declined in popularity, the Sun's editorial stance became sympathetic to the Conservative Party. By 1978 The Sun had overtaken its erstwhile stablemate The Mirror in circulation, partly thanks to remorseless advertising on ITV, voiced by actor Christopher Timothy. From 1981, the Sun used Bingo as a promotional tool to increase its circulation still further.
Despite the industrial relations of the 1970's - the so-called "Spanish practices" of the print unions - The Sun was very profitable, enabling Murdoch to expand to the United States from 1973. In 1986 Murdoch shut down the Bouverie Street premises of the Sun and News of the World, sacked the striking printers, and moved operations to the new Wapping complex (see Wapping dispute); the two papers were temporarily produced by a skeleton staff. The increased profitability of the two tabloids helped Murdoch to launch the Sky satellite channels and to pursue predatory pricing of The Times (from 1993) against its own rivals.
Critics of the paper accuse it of being jingoistic, sensationalistic and subservient to Murdoch's point of view. It infamously printed the headline "Gotcha" when, during the Falklands War, Argentinian ship the General Belgrano was sunk, and often refers to foreign leaders in unflattering terms — such as dubbing president Jacques Chirac of France "le Worm". Support of British troops — referred to as "Our Boys" — in action is invariably unequivocal and, like all Murdoch-owned media, the paper has fully supported the ongoing war in Iraq. The tabloid is also famous for its anti-German headlines and stories, for example in connection with Football, Pope Benedict XVI and the European Union.
Also controversial has been the paper's alleged homophobia. This started in the 1980s as the new Greater London Council led by Ken Livingstone gave (modest) financial support to various gay rights and support groups. When Peter Mandelson was "outed" by Matthew Parris (a gay former columnist on The Sun) on Newsnight in October 1999, the paper called for it to be stated whether Britain was governed by a "gay mafia", as there were then several openly gay members of the British Cabinet, only for the paper's attitudes to be completely reversed the next day, because of the uproar which had ensued. In reality, Chris Smith, Nick Brown and Mandelson were by no means allies.
The Sun was condemned for its coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster in Sheffield, where it printed allegations against Liverpool football fans that were later found to be untrue. This caused a boycott of the Sun in Liverpool. It made a full page 'apology' on July 7, 2004, 15 years after the disaster, which has been criticised by some as self-serving  (http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,14173,1255987,00.html). For more on this controversy, see 'The Sun newspaper' section in 'Hillsborough disaster'.
The paper relies heavily on the entertainment industry and sport as well as news and politics for its content, with many items often revolving around celebrities and similar individuals. In addition to writers covering celebrities-about-town and the latest soap opera storylines, the paper is always on the lookout for celebrities in trouble or dishabille. Pictures are preferred and The Sun often uses pictures taken by paparazzi. Outside celebrity-based content, common story themes include immigration, security scandals, the so-called "destruction of the British way of life" by Europe, domestic abuse and paedophiles - though some people suggested that the latter was once undermined by a beautiful baby competition (with plenty of photographs of young children) run at the same time which they claimed might attract the attention of unsavoury individuals.
Editorially, the paper takes a right-wing view, staunchly anti-European and conservative, although this has not stopped it giving support to the ruling "New Labour" Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Tony Blair since 1997. This was repeated in 2001 and 2005.
The current editor is Rebekah Wade, the first female editor in the paper's history.
- Sidney Jacobsen (1964–1965) (previously editor of the Daily Herald before the name change)
- Dick Dinsdale (1965–1969)
- Larry Lamb (1969–1972)
- Bernard Shrimsley (1972–1975) (Lamb was "editorial director", supervising both the Sun and NOW)
- Lary Lamb (1975–1980) (Lamb took an enforced six month sabbatical before being sacked by Murdoch)
- Kelvin MacKenzie (1981–1994)
- Stuart Higgins (1994–1998)
- David Yelland (1998–2003)
- Rebekah Wade (2003–)
Other newspapers published within the UK with "tabloid values" are the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Star, and the Daily Sport. Of these, only the Mirror supports the Labour Party, the others are conservative.
- Official website (http://www.thesun.co.uk/)
- BBC: On This Day 1964 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/september/15/newsid_3068000/3068749.stm)
- Newspaper Marketing Agency Facts & Figures (http://www.nmauk.co.uk/nma/do/live/factsAndFigures?newspaperID=17)