Now redtops have fared since the 1950s

Long before the internet – or even widespread TV and radio news – it is probably not surprising that far more newspapers were sold in the Fifties than today.

But the falls have been by far the sharpest for the red tops.

In 1950 the News of the World had a sale, astonishing by today’s standards, of more than 8.4 million.

Throughout the Fifties, the Daily Mirror and the Express were selling more than four million a day each and The People was selling more than five million – compared to the latest ABC of 741,033.

The red tops have always been more about entertainment than the quality market papers, so the proliferation of entertainment options has hit them particularly hard – from PlayStations to Sunday shopping, from multichannel TV to the internet.

But while the decline for some titles has been staggering, the picture for the press as a whole is not all doom and gloom.

Some papers have actually put on sales since the Fifties – The Guardian used to sell 140,000 compared with around 370,000 today and the Financial Times sold only around 57,000 compared with more than 400,000 today.

A look back at this chart reveals that the current onslaught on red-top circulations is nothing new. If anything, the declines of the late Sixties and early Seventies, in the face of competition from the burgeoning TV and radio industries was even more severe than the losses being suffered today.

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