To encourage riders to remove and recycle their newspapers rather than leave them on the train, the London Underground has posted signs proclaiming in bolded capital letters that “The newspaper you’re reading is rubbish”. On my train this morning, a wag had scribbled in below this pronouncement “That’s the Mail for you”.
That was the second laugh I got at the expense of the UK tabloid newspapers this week. The first was when I was digging through a pile of newspapers and read the screaming headline of the Daily Express “PLAN CRAP PENSIONS”. When I removed the FT from on top of that rag, I saw that when no longer partially obscured, the headline was “NEW PLAN TO SCRAP PENSIONS”. But the headline as I misread it would not have been out of character for the paper.
Despite the disdain the tabloids draw from many people, including me, they remain enormously popular and influential. The Daily Mail operates one of the most widely visited news websites in the world and the whispered rumour that “The Sun is strongly opposed to your policy proposal and is planning a cover story” is enough to freeze the blood of even the most senior politicians.
But back to mockery. My friend Kevin Grant, a delightful British wit, penned this memorable summary of British newspapers for the television series “Yes, Prime Minister”.