British newspaper front pages review at midnight: Thursday 4 November 2010

A strange night really. The papers were faced with two choices for top stories: Obama’s crash and the confirmation of higher student fees. All bar The Telegraph went with Obama. Maybe I am biased but sometimes I feel like no one has told newspapers editors that people now have the internet. Very few people who read the broadsheets won’t already have heard about the defeat as it broke 24 hours ago. Less people may have heard about the £9,000 fee cap. Maybe they are just trying to justify sendng their correspondents to Washington for the week.. Although having said that it doesn’t look like they sent photographers as they have all basically used the same photo.

Both The Guardian and The Times have gone exclusively with Obama’s defeat in the US mid-terms on their front page. Surprisingly neither paper mentions the hike in tuition fees, despite the fact that it is overwhelmingly of interest to both paper’s readership. The Guardian, in particular, have made it something of a campaign of theirs in recent years so you would expect the final announcement on higher fees to be their splash. I have no idea why it isn’t. Suggestions please?

The Times – “Obama takes blame: ‘I took a shellacking’” – has a good, if slightly uninspiring, retelling of President Obama’s humiliating mid-term defeat. While well written it is basically just a summary of the night’s events.

The Guardian – “Obama admits he needs to ‘do a better job’ after election defeat” – is similar in style to The Times piece, with the vast majority just summarising Obama’s press conference and analysing the situation for the next few years in the US. The thing that makes the front page better than its rival is a comment piece running down the right column in which Ed Pilkington summarises the rise of the Tea Party and what it means for American politics.

The Telegraph – “Middle class pay 6 times more for degree” – leads with the line that graduates who go on to earn more than £45,000 will pay six times as much a year for the cost of university than those who are less successful. This obviously chimes with its readership, but it is a strong point that variable interest rates will squeeze the upper middle classes. The article quotes university minister David Willetts as saying the system is progressive but not before quoting a guy from the Social Market Foundation saying that middle class graduates “will face significant debt for the first time.”

The FT – “Fed to pump in extra $600bn” – leads with the Federal Reserve’s latest round of quantitative easing and the initial poor response in the bond market. The article makes clear that the UK’s Monetary Policy Committee is deciding at the moment whether such measures are necessary here as well. Vital days for the world economy.

The Daily Mail – “£100bn cost of broken homes” – should really get an award for rehashing a very old story. It leads with comments made by work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith in which he, surprise, surprise, defended marriage and said that it cost the country about £100 billion a year. Anyone that follows politics even in the slightest knows that Smith has been saying the same things for about 5 years, so the idea that this is suddenly news is all a bit odd. It’s really just a piece backing the coalition government’s stance on marriage.

The Independent – “He talks of consensus, but… Obama faces a long, hard battle” – has some drivel about Obama. Again leading with a comment-style piece. Well it is a Viewspaper!

If you only read one: The Telegraph, for having the guts to lead with tuition fees.


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