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The Daily Mirror was launched on 2 November 1903 by Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe) as a newspaper for women, run by women. Hence the name: he said, "I intend it to be really a mirror of feminine life as well on its grave as on its lighter sides....to be entertaining without being frivolous, and serious without being dull", and also invited men to read it. It cost one penny.
It was not an immediate success. In 1904, he decided to turn it into a pictore newspaper, changing the masthead to The Daily Illustrated Mirror and made Hamilton Fyfe editor who then fired all the women journalists. This name ran from 26 January to 27 April 1904 (issues 72 to 150), then reverted to The Daily Mirror. The first issue did not have advertisements on the front page as previously, but instead news text and engraved pictures (of a traitor and an actress), with the promise of photographs inside. Two days later, the price was dropped to one halfpenny and to the masthead was added: "A paper for men and women". This combination was more successful: by issue 92, the guaranteed circulation was 120,000 copies and by issue 269, it had grown to 200,000:
Harmsworth sold the newspaper to his brother Harold Harmsworth (from 1914 Lord Rothermere) in 1913. In 1917, the price was increased to one penny. Circulation continued to grow: in 1919, some issues sold more than 1 million copies a day, making it the largest daily picture paper.
By the mid 1930s, the Mirror was struggling – it and the Mail were the main casualties of the early 1930s circulation war that saw the Daily Herald and the Daily Express establish circulations of more than two million, and Rothermere decided to sell his shares in it.
In the late 1930s the paper moved from being a conservative, middle-class newspaper into a left-wing paper for the working class. The Mirror was the first UK paper to adopt the look of the New York tabloids. By 1939, it was selling 1.4 million copies a day.
It was threatened with closure in World War II because Churchill thought a cartoon made fun of the navy. The cartoon showed a sailor clinging to a piece of wreckage. It attacked the waste of petrol, and other goods, that sailors were trying to bring across the Atlantic and avoid being killed by German submarines.
The Mirror's mass working-class readership had made it the United Kingdom's best-selling daily tabloid newspaper. In 1960, it bought the Daily Herald (the popular daily of the labour movement) when it bought Odhams, in one of a series of takeovers which created the International Publishing Corporation (IPC). The Mirror management did not want the Herald competing with the Mirror for readers, and in 1964, relaunched it as a mid-market paper, now named the Sun. When it failed to win readers, the Sun was sold to Rupert Murdoch — who immediately relaunched it as a more populist and sensationalist tabloid as a direct competitor to the Mirror. In 1978, The Sun overtook the Mirror in circulation, and in 1984 the Mirror was sold to Robert Maxwell.
After Maxwell's death in 1991, the Mirror went through a protracted crisis before merging with the regional newspaper group Trinity to form Trinity Mirror in 1999. In recent years, the paper's circulation has also been overtaken by that of the Daily Mail.
The Daily and Sunday Mirror are now printed at Watford and Oldham by Trinity Mirror.
In 2002, the Mirror changed its masthead logo from red to black, because the term "red top" is a name for a sensationalist mass-market tabloid. Sometimes it was blue. On 6 April 2005, the red top came back.
Under then-editor Piers Morgan, it opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and ran many front pages critical of the war. It also gave financial support to the 15 February 2003 anti-war protest, paying for a large screen and providing thousands of placards.
The Mirror's front page on 4 November 2004, after the re-election of George W. Bush as U.S. President, read "How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?". It gave a list of states and their average IQ, showing the Bush states all below average intelligence (except for Virginia), and all Kerry states at or above average intelligence. The source for this table was The Economist, though it was a hoax. Richard Wallace became editor in 2004.
- 1903: Mary Howarth
- 1904: Hamilton Fyfe
- 1907: Alexander Kenealy
- 1915: Ed Flynn
- 1916: Alexander Campbell
- 1931: Leigh Brownlee
- 1934: Cecil Thomas
- 1948: Silvester Bolam
- 1953: Jack Nener
- 1961: Lee Howard
- 1971: Tony Miles
- 1974: Michael Christiansen
- 1975: Mike Molloy
- 1985: Richard Stott
- 1990: Roy Greenslade
- 1991: Richard Stott
- 1992: David Banks
- 1994: Colin Myler
- 1995: Piers Morgan
- 2004: Richard Wallace
Source: Tabloid Nation p. 248.
- Daily Mirror No. 1 (Nov. 2 1903) page 3
- Albion (1973) Vol 5, 2 page 150
- Daily Mirror issue 72, January 26, 1904
- Daily Illustrated Mirror issue 74, January 28, 1904
- Daily Illustrated Mirror issue 92, February 18, 1904
- Daily Mirror issue 269, September 13, 1904
- Daily Mirror issue 4163, February 26, 1917
- Daily Mirror issue 4856, May 19, 1919
- Connor, Robert (1969). "Cassandra: Reflections in a Mirror". Cassell.
- Sutherland, John (11 November 2004). "The Axis of Stupidity". The Guardian.
- "Fool Me Twice". Snopes. 12 November 2004. Retrieved 2009-07-19.
- Horrie,, Chris (1 October 2003). "Tabloid Nation: From the Birth of the Mirror to the Death of the Tabloid Newspaper". André Deutsch. ISBN 978-0-233-00012-1.