Or: how to go about choosing the Saturday newspapers you wish to provide for your guests.
I’m not sure if it applies in any other country, but in the UK one can make some fairly accurate, but nevertheless sweeping, generalisations about a household based on their choice of newspaper.
The Guardian (otherwise known as the Grauniad due to a history of terrible proofreading)
The Independent (which claims to be neutral, and is therefore sometimes boring)
The Telegraph (otherwise known as the Torygraph)
The Times (less obvious editorial interference, but it is owned by Rupert Murdoch
The Sun (rabidly so, despite being also owned by RM – and despised by the chattering classes as being beneath them)
Then you get the odd distinction between what are known as broadsheets (newspapers you have to read sitting down at a table because the sheets are just too big to hold out in front of you) and what are known as tabloids (sheets about half the size, and generally much heavier on the headlines and “shock outrage” kind of articles, as well as having one picture of a topless model). The Sun is often regarded as the most extreme of the tabloid-type (reading the pictures, rather than the text) with the London Evening Standard being the exception which proved the rule: broadsheets are impractical on crowded tubes, so it was tabloid in size, and broadsheet in attitude.
The tabloid/broadsheet distinction all started because umpity ump years ago there was a tax on newspapers based on the number of pages they contained. This tax was reduced from around 1830, and done away with in 1850! It’s only in the past year or so that some of the self-styled serious papers (i.e. broadsheets) have moved to tabloid size – and the amount of soul-searching and complaint that this caused really had to be seen to be believed.
Personally, I rather like being able to read a newspaper without taking up two or three seats on a train or bus, but an awful lot of Brits seem to have liked the splendid isolation that over a meter of newsprint provided….
Sorry, I digress.
As a hotel, we like to provide newspapers for our guests in the mornings, and we need to be careful to give the right impression – at least to British guests. I suspect continental visitors are blissfully ignorant, but you never know.
This morning I have provided the Saturday editions (both more like books than newspapers in terms of actual page numbers) of the Times and the Scotsman. The Scotsman and the Herald are both Scottish papers: printed up here, and very much more focussed on Scottish affairs. I didn’t used to think this was important, but since devolution it’s useful to get information on what bits of legislation actually apply north of the border. The English papers (and, sadly, both the BBC and commercial TV stations) often just assume that the latest Westminster wheeze applies to the whole of the UK. The Scotsman is Edinburgh, and the Herald is Glasgow, although they will both deny this at every opportunity, and in fact changed their names to remove the respective cities not that long ago.