The Telegraph, the Times and the Daily Mail: The Definitive Cross-Searching Experience

Having the Telegraph available in digital format through Gale, a part of Cengage Learning means that the newspaper will be cross-searchable through the Gale Primary Sources platform. Rather than only studying the paper in isolation through the standalone Telegraph Historical Archive, users will also have the opportunity to glean a range of contrasting viewpoints on the major stories of the day, opening up new research opportunities in the process. For the first time, it will be possible to retrieve results from many of the UK’s leading national newspapers with a single search, including (but not limited to) the Times, the Daily Mail and now the daily and Sunday editions of the Telegraph. 

The Telegraph is renowned for its commitment to producing quality journalism, striving to be ‘serious, popular and pioneering’. It struck a journalistic balance between incisive analysis and personal interest, with a more personal reporting style heralding the rise of the ‘new journalism’ of the late-nineteenth century. A stepping stone towards the mass-market appeal of the Daily Mail, this helped to ensure the newspaper reached a large audience. This was further aided by the fact that the proprietors of the Telegraph sought to out-manoeuvre its rivals from an early stage; within three months of its launch in June 1855, its price was halved to 1d to become London’s first penny newspaper. Novelty has in fact been a recurring theme throughout the newspaper’s publication; it was the first paper to publish a crossword in 1925, the first to publish a regular television column from 1935, and the first to have an electronic edition available online. It is no surprise that it has attracted a large and loyal following over the years - by 1876, just over twenty years into its existence, it already claimed to have ‘the largest circulation in the world’.

This was in considerable contrast to its main ‘quality’ daily rival, the Times. Although famed for being the ‘newspaper of record’, it was unable to attract as large a following as that of the Telegraph, which was outselling the Times within months of its first edition. And although both are associated with attracting more educated readerships, there were subtle differences between the two. With its newly low price and dedication to producing lively copy, the Telegraph ensured its ‘high tone’ could reach all classes of society, while the Times was more content to confine itself to the upper echelons. The selection and presentation of news stories and styles of journalism were affected accordingly.

This is clearer with the third of the main national dailies accessible in Gale Primary Sources – the Daily Mail. Targeting the newly enfranchised lower middle classes from its launch in 1896, it has always been a more avowedly ‘populist’ newspaper. In a significant departure from the more factual accounts of the Times and detailed reporting of the Telegraph, the Daily Mail adopted a more compact style, delivering ‘all the news in 60 seconds’. Eye-catching headlines accompanied by full-page pictorials became commonplace.

The ability to cross-search all three newspapers, along with the Independent from 1986, the Sunday Times from 1822, Punch from 1841, Gale’s collection of regional titles, and more, allows researchers to access contrasting perspectives on the news of the day. Taken together, they are the perfect complement to research on a range of topics.    

Presentation of News

For a long period of its history - having launched long before pictures were a feature of newspapers - the Times was largely free of images. It instead relied upon text and verbatim reporting to relay its coverage of the news.

By contrast, the Daily Mail used pictures and photographs from the very beginning. This supported its aim to deliver an easily-digestible news service to busy readers, who would want to grasp the facts quickly.

The Telegraph positioned itself somewhere in between. Few images are likely to be found before the turn of the twentieth century (its first picture appeared in 1881), while it carried advertisements on its front page until 1939. Nevertheless, the newspaper sought to strike a balance between engaging textual content and attractive visuals.

Front Pages, 10 March 1953


Inside Pages, 1st January 1919


Selection of News

While each of the three newspapers covered the main stories of the day, there were clear differences in the selection of other items deemed newsworthy. This reflects their divergent editorial criteria and priorities: the Daily Mail seeking ‘human interest’ stories, the Times with its ‘serious events’, and the Telegraph’s focus upon vivid, compelling content. It is, therefore, essential to consider a range of newspapers to gain a broad, complete picture of the day.

Take the example of the bankruptcy trial of Ernest Terah Hooley. Hooley was an infamous ‘company promoter’, who made a habit of paying out substantial sums to the press as ‘hush money’, ensuring the reputation of his various companies remained intact. Yet it was only the Telegraph to whom Hooley spoke, explaining the paper’s dedication to reporting every detail of his trial in July 1898. Their report extended to 8,650 words, in contrast to the Times’ 2,800 and the Daily Mail’s 2,190. Without access to each of these newspapers (as well as the wealth of other primary source content on the Gale Primary Sources platform), researchers would be left with an incomplete picture.

‘His Dealings with Earls and Editors’, The Daily Mail, 28 July 1898; pg. 3  

‘Queen’s Bench Division’, The Times, 28 July 1898; pg. 14

‘Bankruptcy of Mr Hooley’, The Telegraph, 28 July 1898; pg. 5

Case Study: The War in the Indian Highlands, October 1897

The Daily Telegraph
The Times
The Daily Mail

• Winston Churchill writes a report for the Daily Telegraph, offering a personal insight into events.

• The Times produces a similar account from a special correspondent, which is albeit more fact-driven.

The Daily Mail piece is more removed from events, merely reporting a telegram from General Blood.

• Intimate details of the British troops’ camps are provided, followed by a blow-by-blow account of a skirmish at Badelai, which developed into a ‘severe combat’.

Reporting 16 casualties, the reporter paints a picture of the battle’s terrain, outlining the difficulties faced by the British troops.

Without a special correspondent of their own, the Daily Mail relies upon General Blood’s fact-driven account.

These three articles emphasise the value of corroborative research through the cross-searching of Gale Primary Sources. Researchers can build up a detailed picture of events from varying perspectives and create a more reliable account by using multiple sources. Equally, each account hints at the differing reporting priorities held by each newspaper. What is perhaps most surprising here is the similarity in reporting between the Daily Telegraph and the Times - the latter more often relied upon factual accounts which were more removed from the action. A glance at the remaining articles on the page supports the idea that this type of reporting was unusual for the paper.