Today (UK newspaper)

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Today
Today (UK newspaper) logo.svg
Type Daily newspaper
Format Tabloid
Owner(s) Eddy Shah, Lonrho, News International
Founded 4 March 1986
Ceased publication 17 November 1995
Headquarters Wapping, London

Today was a national newspaper in the United Kingdom and was published between 1986 and 1995.

History[edit]

Today, with the American newspaper USA Today as an inspiration, launched on Tuesday 4 March 1986, with the front page headline, "Second Spy Inside GCHQ". At 18p, it was a middle-market tabloid, a rival to the long-established Daily Mail and Daily Express. It pioneered computer photo-typesetting and full-colour offset printing at a time when national newspapers were still using Linotype machines, letterpress and could only reproduce photographs in black and white. The colour was initially crude, produced on equipment which had no facility for colour proofing, so the first view of the colour was on the finished product. However, it forced the conversion of all UK national newspapers to electronic production and colour printing. The newspaper's motto, hung in the newsroom, was "propa truth, not propaganda".

Launched by regional newspaper entrepreneur Eddy Shah, it was bought by Tiny Rowland's Lonrho within four months. (Shah would launch the short-lived, unsuccessful national tabloid The Post in 1988.) Alastair Campbell was political editor and his long-term partner, Fiona Millar was news editor.

Alongside the daily newspaper, a Sunday edition was launched. Sunday Today suffered as it ran through three editors in less than a year, and was closed early in 1987 as a cost-saving measure.[1]

The newspaper began a sponsorship of the English Football League at the start of 1986-87, but withdrew after a season. Today was sold to Rupert Murdoch's News International in 1987.

Today ceased publication on 17 November 1995, the first long-running national newspaper title to close since the Daily Sketch in 1971. The last edition's headline was 'Goodbye, it's been great to know you". The editorial said "... Now we are forced into silence by the granite and unforgiving face of the balance sheet...".

Richard Stott was editor when Today ceased publication; he died in July 2007. Other journalists at the close included Peter Prendergast (city editor), Anne Robinson (columnist), Barry Wigmore (US editor, based in New York), David McMaster (managing editor) and the MP Tony Banks (football correspondent).

Controversies[edit]

One of the newspaper's early controversial front page photographs was in 1988, when it portrayed Nigel Lawson as a terminator, accompanied by the headline Nigel the Great Tax Terminator in reference to his tax cuts in that year's Budget.

In the early 1990s the newspaper printed a column attacking the city of Liverpool and its inhabitants which was accompanied by a photograph showing a large rubbish tip directly behind the city's iconic Liver Building. In fact, no such rubbish tip existed anywhere in the vicinity of the Liver Building; it subsequently emerged that the photograph was a fake created from a composite of images of the buildings and a rubbish tip not in Liverpool, although the photograph's caption implied that the image illustrated the supposed poor upkeep of the city. Despite these revelations, the newspaper did not inform its readers of the deception or print a correction.

In the immediate aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the paper showed a fireman carrying the body of a young girl under the headline "IN THE NAME OF ALLAH", which proved embarrassing when it was found that the bombing had been perpetrated by American survivalists, not Muslim terrorists.

In 1996, Hugh Grant won damages from News (UK) Ltd over what his lawyers called a "highly defamatory" article in January 1995. The newspaper had falsely claimed that Grant verbally abused a young extra with a "foul-mouthed tongue lashing" on the set of The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.[2]

Editors of Today[edit]

1986: Brian MacArthur
1987: Dennis Hackett
1987: David Montgomery
1991: Martin Dunn
1993: Richard Stott

Editors of Sunday Today[edit]

1986: Tony Holden
1986: Peter McKay
1986: Bill Hagerty

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roy Greenslade, Press Gang: How Newspapers Make Profits from Propaganda, p.481
  2. ^ Howard, Stephen (4 June 1996). "Actor Hugh wins substantial libel award". Press Association.