A Quick History of The Times Newspaper, Almost Entirely Stolen From Wikipedia

  • 8/14/2007 12:07:00 am
  • By Mark Gibbings-Jones
  • 2 Comments

The Times was founded by John Walter in 1785 as The Daily Universal Register. Unhappy with Universal being universally ignored by the public, Walter changed the title after 940 editions on 1 January 1788 to The Times. John Walter was also the first editor of the paper. He resigned in 1803, handing ownership and editorship to the second John Walter. The first John Walter had already spent sixteen months in Newgate prison for libel printed in The Times, but his pioneering efforts to obtain Continental news, especially from France, helped build the paper's reputation among policy makers and financiers.

The Times used contributions from significant figures in the fields of politics, science, literature, and the arts to build its reputation. For much of its early life, the profits of The Times were very large and the competition minimal, so it could pay far better than its rivals for information or writers.

In 1809, John Stoddart was appointed general editor, replaced in 1817 with Thomas Barnes. Under Barnes and his successor in 1841, John Thadeus Delane, the influence of The Times rose to great heights, especially in politics and amongst the City of London. Peter Fraser and Edward Sterling were two noted hacks and gained for The Times the pompous/satirical nickname 'The Thunderer' (from "We thundered out the other day an article on social and political reform.").

The Times was the first newspaper to send special correspondents abroad, and it was the first to send war correspondents to cover particular conflicts. W. H. Russell, the paper's correspondent with the army in the Crimean War, was immensely influential with his dispatches back to England.

In other events of the 19th century, The Times opposed the repeal of the Corn Laws until the number of demonstrations convinced the editorial board otherwise, and only reluctantly supported aid to victims of the Irish Potato Famine. It enthusiastically supported the Great Reform Bill of 1832 which reduced corruption and increased the electorate from 400 000 people to 800 000 people (still a small minority of the population). During the American Civil War, The Times represented the view of the wealthy classes, favouring the secessionists, but it was not a supporter of slavery. Its support of individual politicians was internally driven and did not pander to public opinion.

The third John Walter had succeeded his father in 1847. Though the Walters were becoming more conservative, the paper continued as more or less independent. From the 1850s, however, The Times was beginning to suffer from the rise in competition from the penny press, notably The Daily Telegraph and The Morning Post.

The Times faced financial extinction in 1890 under A. F. Walter, but it was rescued by an energetic editor, Charles Frederic Moberly Bell. During his tenure (1890-1911), The Times became associated with selling the Encyclopædia Britannica using aggressive American marketing methods introduced by Horace Everett Hooper and his advertising executive, Henry Haxton. However, due to legal fights between the Britannica's two owners, Hooper and Walter Montgomery Jackson, The Times severed its connection in 1908 and was bought by pioneering newspaper magnate, Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe.

On May 8, 1920, under the editorship of Wickham Steed, the Times in a front-page leader endorsed the anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion as a genuine document, and called Jews the world’s greatest danger. The following year, when Philip Graves, the Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey) correspondent of the Times exposed The Protocols as a forgery, the Times retracted the leader of the previous year.

In 1922, John Jacob Astor, a son of the 1st Viscount Astor, bought The Times from the Northcliffe estate. The paper gained a measure of notoriety in the 1930s with its advocacy of German appeasement; then-editor Geoffrey Dawson was closely allied with those in the government who practised appeasement, most notably Neville Chamberlain.

In 1967, members of the Astor family sold the paper to Canadian publishing magnate Roy Thomson, and on May 3 in the same year it started printing news on the front page for the first time. (Previously, the paper's front page featured small advertisements, usually of interest to the moneyed classes in British society.) The Thomson Corporation merged it with The Sunday Times to form Times Newspapers Limited.

An industrial dispute left the paper shut down for nearly a year (December 1, 1978–November 12, 1979).

The Thomson Corporation management were struggling to run a business under the grip of the print unions at the height of Union powers. Union demands was increasingly difficult to meet. Management were left with no choice but to save both titles by finding a buyer who was in a position to guarantee the survival of both titles, and also one who had the resources and was committed to funding the inevitable migration to technology-based printing.

Several suitors appeared, including Robert Maxwell, Tiny Rowland and Lord Rothermere; however, only one buyer was in a position to fulfil the full Thomson remit. That buyer was the Australian media baron Rupert Murdoch.

In August 2007, in order to improve its circulation amongst the key 18-49 ABC1 male demographic at the beginning of the 2007/08 football season, a television advertisement for The Times revolved entirely about the thought of a man in a public lavatory, from which the roll of toilet tissue has been fully used, preferring the prospect of walking for the remainder of his day with a shitty anus, as he found the thought of this poo-related scenario more appealing than using a page of his precious The Times Football Section to wipe his shitty anus. Until the new circulation figures are announced, the level of success for this new advertising approach can only be estimated, but all indications are that spending such a large amount of News International's marketing budget on a television commercial which merely serves to associate one of the world's most respected newspapers with a man's shitty anus is sure to usher in a new and exciting period in this history of The Times.

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