A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


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Newspaper Reading in General

The proportions of the sample seeing different types of newspapers were as follows:

% Sample
Saw a morning newspaper “yesterday” 73
See a morning newspaper every day or most days 77
See an evening paper every day or most days 50
Saw a Sunday newspaper “last Sunday” 87
See local weeklies or bi-weeklies regularly 46

Sunday newspapers reach the largest public, morning papers are seen by about three-quarters of the population, and evening papers local weeklies by about a half.

Some results are given in diagrammatic form below.

Morning Newspapers Evening Nev/spapers Local Weeklies and Bi-weeklies Sunday Newspapers
Every day 67%
Most days 8%
Some days 11%
Never 14%
Every day 42%
Most days 8%
Some days 15%
Never 35%
Regularly 47%
Occasionally 10%
Never 43%
“Last Sunday” 87%
Not “Last Sunday” 13%

The proportions of the sample seeing different morning papers and Sunday papers “yesterday” and “last Sunday” are shown below.

Morning Newspapers % Sample Sunday Newspapers % Sample
Daily Express 19 News of the World 32
Daily Herald 13 The People 29
News Chronicle 8 Sunday Express 14
Daily Mail 9 Sunday Chronicle 7
Daily Sketch 4 Sunday Dispatch 6
Daily Mirror 12 Sunday Pictorial 14
Daily Telegraph 6 Sunday Graphic 5
The Times 2 Reynold's News 4
Daily Worker 1 The Observer 3
Local and Provincial Papers 15 Sunday Times 4
None Empire News 9
Others 9
27 None 13

Considerable differences were found in the newspaper reading habits of different groups. These differences are most marked in the case of morning newspapers, and are found both in readership of different newspapers and in the proportions which see any morning newspaper. There are also differences in evening newspaper reading. Sunday newspapers are the most generally read. The differences between the proportions who see a Sunday paper in different groups are small. However, there are considerable differences in the publics reached by different individual Sunday newspapers.

Groups generally showing a high proportion of newspaper readers Groups generally showing a low proportion of newspaper readers
Men Women
The middle age groups The young and the old
The higher economic groups The lower economic groups
Those with higher education Those with elementary education
Managerial and professional workers Agricultural workers
Factory workers not in munitions

Differences in the proportions seeing newspapers in different regions are small. The Southern region including Hampshire, Dorset and parts of Sussex and Surrey shows the highest proportion. The Northern region, including Northumberland and Durham, and Wales show the lowest proportions.

About the same proportions see newspapers in the town and in the country, and in towns if different sizes.

Married people with and without children aged under 14 show no differences in the proportions reading newspapers, and the differences in the habits of married and single people are such as reflect the age composition of the groups.

Local weekly and bi-weekly papers are read rather more in small towns and rural areas. Evening papers are read more in large towns and less in small towns and rural areas. The latter are read less frequently by agricultural workers, housewives and the retired and unoccupied.

Some Notes on Particular Newspapers


(a) Morning Newspapers

The Daily Express is the most generally read of morning newspapers, and has a substantial audience amongst all groups. Relatively this paper is read rather less by the upper economic groups and those with university education.

The Daily Herald has a relatively high proportion of male readers and is particularly popular amongst the lower economic groups, those with elementary education, workers in heavy manufacturing, miners and transport and building workers.

The Daily Mail is read rather more in the provinces than in London, and has a high proportion of readers in the older age groups.

The Daily Mirror has relatively high proportions of readers in the younger age groups and the lower economic groups. It is rather more popular amongst women, and particularly amongst young women, than amongst men. It is infrequently read by those with university education. There are marked regional differences in the readership of this paper which is read by much higher proportions in the south than in the north, A high proportion of workers in light engineering and munitions work read the Mirror .

The Daily Telegraph results show marked differences. This paper is road by nigh proportions of the upper economic groups and those with higher education. It is read rather more by the old than by the young, and more in the south than in the north. Relatively high proportions of those in managerial and professional jobs, clerical workers and the retired and unoccupied read this: paper.

The Times reaches the same type of public as the Daily Telegraph, its reader- ship being high in all the groups mentioned in the paragraph above.

Local and Provincial newspapers, (including Scottish papers) are read very much more in Scotland and the north than elsewhere. The only British national daily with a large readership in Scotland is the Daily Express , Scottish papers taking the place of the others.

There are no very marked differences in the composition of the public for other morning newspapers.

(b) Sunday Newspapers

The News of the World reaches a larger public than any other newspaper. One third of the civilian population saw this paper “last Sunday”. However only a small proportion of the upper economic group see the News of the World, its readership being highest in the lower economic groups. It is read much less by those with higher education than by those with elementary education. It is more popular amongst manual workers than with the non-manual groups. This paper therefore, reaches particularly the large groups of the population.

The People has a readership nearly as large as the News of the World and is popular amongst the same groups.

The Sunday Times and the Observer are read very much more by the higher economic groups and by those with higher education. These papers have more appeal of the smaller groups of the population. The same is true of the Sunday Express and the Sunday Dispatch but the differences are less marked.

The Sunday Pictorial is read by different groups in fairly even proportions, except that its readership is much greater in the south than in the north.

The Sunday Chronicle has a very high readership in the North Western region.

The readership of the Empire News is mainly confined to the north and the midlands. This paper is read more by the lower economic groups than by the higher groups.

Other Sunday newspapers do not show very marked differences.

It may be noted that analyses made of the replies given by married people with and without children under 14 showed no statistically significant differences in the case of either morning papers or Sunday papers. This suggests that no particular newspaper is more a “family paper” than others.

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