Profit (f)or the Public Good? Sensationalism, homosexuality, and the postwar popular press

Bengry, Justin. 2014. Profit (f)or the Public Good? Sensationalism, homosexuality, and the postwar popular press. Media History, 20(2), pp. 146-166. ISSN 0953-5233 [Article]

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From the Sunday Pictorial's 1952 ‘Evil Men’ series, the first postwar exposé on homosexuality to appear in the British popular press, to the 1964 achievement by its stable mate the Daily Mirror of record circulation figures, both papers commodified and sensationalized homosexuality for consumption by mass newspaper audiences. Sensationalism was combined with homosexuality as a deliberate strategy to succeed in Britain's highly competitive postwar circulation wars and also to promote particular personal and political agendas of key directors. But historians have tended to focus on the vitriol of sensationalism, emphasizing its homophobic content, without fully interrogating the tactic itself. This paper looks at the origins of sensationalism as a strategy at Mirror Group newspapers, asserting that sensational treatments of homosexuality concretely illuminate the multiple interactions between subjective beliefs and the seemingly objective profit motive. At the Daily Mirror and Sunday Pictorial, homosexuals held a negative moral, political, and social value, but critically, they also held a high commercial value.

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Sensationalism, homosexuality, tabloids, newspapers, 1950s, Great Britain

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24 March 2014Published
25 February 2014Accepted

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Date Deposited:

13 Nov 2017 12:50

Last Modified:

24 Jan 2020 16:56

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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