Today (UK newspaper)
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|Owner(s)||Eddy Shah (1986)|
News International (1987–1995)
|Founded||4 March 1986|
|Ceased publication||17 November 1995|
Today was a national newspaper in the United Kingdom that was published between 1986 and 1995.
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 (equivalent to 53p in 2019), 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 conglomerate Lonrho within four months. Shah subsequently launched the short-lived, unsuccessful national tabloid The Post in 1988. Alastair Campbell was political editor and his girlfriend, Fiona Millar, was news editor.
Alongside the daily newspaper, a Sunday edition was launched. Sunday Today suffered from having three editors in less than a year, and was closed early in 1987 as a cost-saving measure.
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).
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 reality, 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 that was 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 its deception or print any 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 ISLAM", which proved embarrassing when it was found that the bombing had been perpetrated by survivalists, not Muslim terrorists. Again, the paper did not publish a correction.
In 1996, Hugh Grant won damages from News UK 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.
Editors of Today
- 1985: Brian MacArthur
- 1987: Dennis Hackett
- 1987: David Montgomery
- 1991: Martin Dunn
- 1993: Richard Stott
Editors of Sunday Today
- "Murdoch". Ketupa. Archived from the original on 27 July 2002. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- Steve Lohr (11 November 1988). "A second life!". New York Times. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- "What happened next?". The Guardian. 13 October 2002.
- Greenslade, Roy (2004) . Press Gang: How Newspapers Make Profits From Propaganda. London: Pan. p. 481 – via Google Books.
- From Rushdie to 7/7: The Radicalisation of Islam in Britain, Anthony McRoy, Social Affairs Unit, 2006, page 27
- Howard, Stephen (4 June 1996). "Actor Hugh wins substantial libel award". Press Association.
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