The Times is a national daily newspaper in the United Kingdom. It is now a tabloid, although it was printed in broadsheet format for 200 years.
The Times is published by News International, a subsidiary of the News Corporation group, owned by Rupert Murdoch. For much of its history, the newspaper was regarded as without rival, the 'newspaper of record' for Britain. It has played an influential role in politics and shaping public opinion about foreign events. Some claim that, more recently, it has reflected the conservative views of Rupert Murdoch.
The Times is sometimes referred to by people outside the UK as the London Times or The Times of London in order to distinguish it from the many other Times papers such as the New York Times. However, it is the original "Times" newspaper.
The Times was founded by John Walter in 1785 as The Daily Universal Register, changing its title 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 European 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 Thaddeus Delane, the influence of The Times rose to great heights, especially in politics and amongst the City. 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. 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.
In 1922, John Astor, son of Viscount William Waldorf Astor, bought The Times from the Northcliffe family 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 practiced appeasement, most notably Neville Chamberlain.
In 1966, members of the Astor family sold the paper to Canadian publishing magnate Roy Thomson, and 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.)
An industrial dispute in 1979 left the paper shut down for nearly a year. It was purchased by Rupert Murdoch's News International in 1981. The Sun, being part of the same stable (having once featured a topless model on page three), the first News International Times featured a full-page Spirit of Ecstacy Rolls-Royce advertisment on page three. Similarly, the Sun of that day featured a long headline on page one, as opposed to its more typical two- or three-word style. In or about early June 1990, The Times abandoned its policy of using courtesy titles ("Mr", "Mrs", or "Miss" prefixes for living persons). The more formal style is now confined to the "Court and Social" page, though "Ms" is now acceptable in that section.
In November 2003, News International began producing the newspaper in both broadsheet and tabloid sizes. On 13 September 2004, the weekday broadsheet was withdrawn from sale in Northern Ireland. Since 1 November 2004, the paper is solely printed in tabloid format.
Some claim that more sensationalist stories appear in the tabloid than appeared in the broadsheet, such as celebrity features on the front page. This is denied by management at News International.
The official circulation figures for July 2004 show that The Times sold 651,000 copies per day. It is widely perceived that the majority of these readers are young professionals.
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