Dr Christopher Shoop-Worrall, a lecturer for the BA (Hons) Multimedia Sports Journalism programme at UCFB’s Etihad Campus, recently had an article published in the Parliamentary History journal that explores the crossover between politics and the tabloid media in pre-war Britain. Here, we’ve summarised the key findings of the research project and how they’ve shed light on modern British politics and national newspapers today…

The project, entitled ‘Leaps and Light Shows: Visual Politics in Edwardian Mass Press, 1900-1910’, explores the ways in which the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Mirror newspapers used visual content to report on the four general elections that occurred between their emergence during the early twentieth century and the outbreak of World War One in 1914.

Commenting on the origins of the article, Dr Shoop-Worrall said: “I’m very excited to have this published in such a prestigious journal. The research project – which came from part of my PhD – was very fun to work on as it cuts to the heart of the ways in which politics manifests within aspects of popular, mainstream culture.”

Contrary to all existing scholarship, the research finds that the visual content of these newspapers represented a vibrant and significant form of mass political communication which helped shape the broader mass political culture of the period. Their coverage of the election, including the cartoon election ‘races’, evoked much of the ‘human interest’ news content for which they’re known today, and which has made these national newspapers so commercially successful.

Drawing on recent work of the political culture of the period, the article also claims that the visual political news of these papers contributed to, and drew influence from, the wider mass culture of pre-war Britain in order to present political news in ways which were exciting and accessible to their millions of readers.

Each of these newspapers therefore helped to democratise political news through providing visual connections to British popular culture, which appealed to mass working class readerships, historically overlooked by traditional methods of political newspaper reporting. The use of vibrant, visual newspapers helped attract and engage these social groups in political news for the first time.

Dr Shoop-Worrall continued: “My favourite take from the findings was just how much effort these newspapers put in to try and make election news fun for mass numbers of people: firework displays across London to announce new MPs being elected, and selling wall charts so that readers of the Daily Mail could ‘play along at home’ with the election. Like a wall chart for the Olympics, really!”

Click here to read the full article.