The Times Newspaper is among the oldest newspapers in United Kingdom. It was first published in1785in London. During this time it was referred to as The Daily Universal register. It acquired the current name on 1 January 1788. Ever since its first publication, the paper has undergone an evolution that has seen it improve its quality, add more attractive features and even shift its priorities to the most fascinating articles in the world of news. The paper has built a sound reputation by covering fields of arts, literature, politics, and science among other areas of interest to its vast readers. Numerous changes have occurred in The Times newspaper. From editorial styles, to methods of advertising, to the physical look, and political reporting, The Times has undergone evolution and continues to undergo more changes to this date.
As journalism evolved, so did The Times newspaper evolve. The new journalism saw revolution in newspapers where the attention shifted from politics to articles of crime, sexual violence, and other human oddities. Journalism started putting more emphasis on news that were of their clients tastes to ensure they survived the stiff competition that was being witnessed in the world of journalism. The quality and readership of The Times Newspaper has also been improving since it was launched in 1785 (Alan 1976, Pp. 94). Increased competition from close rivals like the express and the daily mail and the coming up of what was commonly referred to as the halfpenny newspapers meant that the existing old generations of the newspapers had to come up with more friendly and competitive features that suited the customer needs in order to remain relevant in the changing market of UK. It is as a result of this that The Times newspaper had to undergo some revolution to fit into the highly competitive market in UK. Some of the major changes or transformations that The Times newspaper has undergone include the following.
This period was dominated by huge coverage of the political option by the times newspaper. Huge continuous columns which covered political opinions of the most influential personalities in the world of politics was a common norm in the times newspaper. During this time most newspapers were being controlled by wealthy and powerful politicians of the time and what they thought was regarded to be of great importance. Despite the effort by the times newspaper to liberate itself from political influence, its independence had not yet been realized. In addition, most of the opinions in the paper revolved around the politics of United Kingdom with the rest of the world receiving little or no attention in some cases. Columns of parliamentary speeches were given priority in the Times of those days. Most of the readers were the learned and the rich who had interest in politics and politicians.
The Appearance and Style
During this period the paper was usually a textual context. It only had the printed word and long columns that covered a particular story say on politics for example. The use of picture in journalism had no place in the times newspaper of those days (Raymond 1961, Pg 220). It was simply a text. The printing media had not yet developed fully so the printing was of low quality and the paper in general was of low quality compare to its improved versions. The news reports were usually spread across up to six columns that were unbroken. Issues on leaders would occupy up to five columns of the text. There were no banner headlines as witnessed in the current journalism. Illustrations were either very scarce or not in existence in some cases. Wits and humour had no place in the times of this period. There were no conspicuous designs to capture the reader. The general arrangement of news was in a bad state.
The issue of advertising was a priority in these days just like politics. The designing of adverts though was not attractive enough and did not catch the attention of the reader with ease as it was later witnessed with the improvement of this paper.
Attitude towards Women
In the times of those days, the place of women took a backseat. Although compared to other papers like the telegraph the times was more gender sensitive, the coverage on issues affecting women such as rape and domestic violence did not have a priority in the paper. They were rarely printed. Women contribution in the society did not appear of great importance then. The women column had not yet been fully developed during this time. The use of women and children for distributing the papers as cheap labour is also a clear sign that the paper did not treat women as equals to their men counterparts (Weiner 1988 Pg 58). Women were seen as weak and their contributions were not considered as equally important as those of men. This is induced from the fact that they were used as cheap labour in distribution of the newspapers (Weiner 1988, Pg 58).
Circulation and Distribution
The volumes of sales were rising steadily as more and more citizens become literate after the enactment of the education act of 1870s which saw many Britons transform from being illiterate to being literate(Raymond 1961, Pg 196). There was the adoption of the Hatters leys to aid in distribution of the newspapers (Weiner 1988, pg 58). It often involved the use of women and children as source of cheap labour. Despite these efforts, the circulation of the times news paper was in decline owing to the new entrants in the market that were much cheaper. Distribution channels were a problem too. (Weiner 1988, Pg 63)
Appearance and Style
During this period, much improvement had been witnessed in the times newspaper. The front page was organised to capture the attention of the reader with the main headlines displayed on it. There was increased use of pictorial journalism. Pictures were included in the times newspaper which made communication both textual and visual. The use of both images and text to communicate made the two to complement one another making communication much easier and more appealing. The use of half-tone blocks to reproduce the tones of a photograph was also being piloted (Pratt 1908, Pp 102-125)
Reporting on Politics
The commercialization of the daily news papers changed the way politics reporting was being done. The times for example gained independence and political influence on its affairs was greatly reduced (Raymond 1961, Pg 197). Focus shifted from politics to other news that was of good taste to the clients. Focus was shifted from politics to advertising and other more attractive news to attract more middle class clients. Reporting on crime and sports was on the rise at the expense of political opinions. It should however be noted that during this period the times was more politically active than ever before. The eruption of the world war1 made it necessary to report on the happenings of war and the times could not be left out. It is this time that the paper took a stance that UK needed to join the war. This made the paper to be politically active compared to the previous times when it was considered a political dormant paper.
Circulation and Distribution
The stiff competition faced by the times in this period due to emergence of the halfpenny newspapers that had more attractive news to the customers adversely continued to affect the circulation of the times newspaper(Raymond 1961 Pg 227). Its sales were performing poorly compared to its competitors like the Sunday newspapers which sold large numbers of copies at the expense of the times newspaper (Raymond 1961, Pg228). The consumers viewed the times newspaper as expensive and went for those papers that were more affordable to them. Vendors were still an important channel of distributing the papers to the consumers because they were in contact wit
Appearance and Style
During this time, the use of pictorial journalism had significantly increased. Use of cartons to pass across messages and especially political satire was a common feature in the times newspaper. The use of banner headline was slowly being adopted. Use of illustration was also coming up to enable the newspaper become competitive as the rest of its competitors in the market. Designs to capture the eye of the reader became more visible in the paper as it tried to cope with the stiff completion. Use of cartoon to convey message was a common feature among the newspapers including the times news paper. Less space was allocated to leaders compared to the previous periods. Coverage on crimes, seduction and all other vices affecting the society had a huge audience hence it had to be covered more unlike in the previous periods.
Attitudes towards Women
The attitude towards women had grown much better with more features on women and even children being added to capture the women customer. Women columns were more developed during this period. There were gossip columns, pages covering women matters only, children features among other features that were of interest to women (Weiner 1988, Pg 61). Issues regarding the violation of women rights such as rape and domestic violence against women were focused. More journalists were hired to report on domestic matters which was not a common thing before. Issues of romance that affected women were also covered to give women more and more reasons to read the paper to diversify its market.
Reporting on Politics
During this period the times was force deeply involved in politics give the tensions that were being witnessed and the resulting world wars. The demand for news on the war front by its clients made it necessary for the times to report on the biggest conflicts of the human kin. In addition reporting on politics was now wider as views from various parts of the world had to be aired. The politics of the day took a lion’s share in terms of coverage. This time round the paper was more of a global identity and reported on politics across the world rather than focusing on the politics of Britain (Cranfield 1978, Pp 52-89).
Continuity in The Times Newspaper
Some features in the times news paper have remained unchanged to this date. The use of pictorial journalism for example is still in use today. The times paper also continues to give more attention the politics of its domicile country just as it used to do in the 1980s. The main reason for this continuity is the fact that most of its readers have a deep interest in the issues affecting the people of Britain. The use of vendors as a channel of distribution is another aspect that has never changed. This is because customers can easily get access to the papers from the vendors since they are spread all over (Walsh 1993, Pg 7-16). This promotes its circulation and hence promotion of its sales.
The times newspaper has really undergone several changes since it started. It has transformed from a low quality paper to a high quality newspaper, from use of textual means of communication to the use of both textual and visual communication hence making it easily understandable, from being unattractive being very attractive to its customers as a result of new customer appealing designs among other transformation. It evolved from political dependency and control to being an independent paper.