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About media framing • (written by Brian Dean)

Curious repeating headlines in the Daily Express

express-dejavuJan 24, 2013 – You’ve probably noticed the Daily Express headlines which feature the weather or some health-related story. It seems that most Express headlines fall into one of these categories:Daily_Express_24_1_2013

1. Weather/floods
2. Health/illness
3. The EU/Euro
4. Pensions
5. “Migrants”, benefits, “skivers”

Exceptions seem uncommon. Okay, you get the occasional “royals” story, and there was a time when house-price rises/falls could have been added to the list. See for yourself, using the compilations of front pages, below (which I’ve colour-coded to match the above categories).

Occasionally, two of the topics are combined in one headline (see example, above left – “ALL MIGRANTS TO GET A BRITISH PENSION”).

The first collection of front pages shows every Daily Express from 18 January 2013 (top left) back to 29 October 2012 (bottom right), with all exceptions shown (uncoloured):

The latest circulation figures show the Express selling many more copies than the Times, Guardian and Independent (roughly the same number as the Telegraph, and fewer than the Sun and Daily Mail).

The next compilation of Express front pages covers the period from early August 2012 (top left) back to May 2012 (bottom right) – it’s not a complete list, and excludes some exceptions as well as other examples which conform to the above topics:



Several months after I posted the above article, Press Gazette ran a similar piece titled: ‘Groundhog day: Why Daily Express front pages may leave readers with a sense of deja vu’ (August 7, 2013). It has a different selection of examples of Daily Express front pages than mine (more on the health and weather themes, and some from the period when house prices was a constant headline subject). Here’s the link to it.

Written by NewsFrames

January 24, 2013 at 8:53 am

14 Responses

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  1. Perfect headlines for their readership? I could make a joke about the dementia ones that keep repeating but that would seem to easy!

    Thanks for compiling those, the Express is a funny paper, even the most healthy of individuals could read it and feel like they can expect to die at any time soon thanks to the number of illness articles and bizarre drop-dead stories.

    Mike Munners

    January 24, 2013 at 9:56 am

  2. What is it that links these categories? On the EU & migrants, it’s standard right-wing political moves. But the ups and downs with the health stories (now a disaster, now a new cure), and the endless OTT weather scares (but without mentioning climate change) are just weird.


    January 24, 2013 at 10:07 am

  3. Thanks for the feedback, Mike & Kate – I know what you both mean. Although I mostly laugh at the weirdness of the Express (the stories you read about its proprietor, Richard “Dirty Des” Desmond, add to the notion that it’s not to be taken seriously), there’s clearly a serious purpose behind these repeating frames. It’s a high-selling national newspaper, prominently displayed in every supermarket and newsagent across the country. And I don’t think it’s *just* about maximising sales.


    January 24, 2013 at 11:03 am

  4. I make that 3 fear themes to 2 hate themes.


    January 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    • Indeed. (And occasionally, with the health/illness theme, they’ll throw in some hope – eg a new cure. All the more to make it an emotional roller-coaster ride).


      January 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      • The ‘hope’ part of the health angle is there to remind people of their fear of death. As soon as you see these ‘hope’ stories you instantly think ‘I might need that because I’m going to die!’. All about re-enforcing the narrative of fear and hatred. It’s like seeing a drug to make you happy. You probably weren’t unhappy before, but now you’re thinking about it, could you be ‘more’ happy? Are you happy ‘enough’? Is something wrong with you? Oh gods you’re going to die eventually! AHHH!

        Then again, my grandmother reads the Express. A stodgy old-aged, demented, racist conservative who still believes in a world that disappeared 50 years ago. It’s comforting to her to read it and moan.


        January 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      • I counted the themes and worked out the percentage of the total for each group.

        Theme .. Count.. %… Count.. %…
        Weather 12 19.35 9 19.14
        Health 23 37.09 15 31.91
        Them 8 12.90 4 8.51
        Europe 7 11.29 13 27.65
        Pensions 7 11.29 6 12.76
        Other 5 8.06 0 0

        Have you noticed how often the paper reverses itself within the week? The week after Christmas there was both a PENSIONS BOOST FOR MILLIONS and a NEW PENSIONS CRISIS. The week before that everyone was going to die from blood pressure but fortunately there was also a cure. On the 14th of June, we faced 80MPH STORM CHAOS, on the next day it was SUMMER. On the 27th of June, dieting would give you a HEART ATTACK, but on the 9th of July you were advised to LOSE WEIGHT WITHIN DAYS.

        It’s exhausting just looking at them, to be honest. (Depressingly I was in Luton yesterday and one of the Vauxhall factories has turned into the Express Newspapers printing plant. From making useful vans to converting perfectly good trees and ink into this drivel.)


        January 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm

  5. Reblogged this on What Journalism and commented:
    A very interesting study of the Daily Express


    February 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm

  6. Surely there’s a Muslims category also? We’ve carried plenty of them on Islamoaphobia Watch

    • I suspect ‘Muslim’ articles come under ‘immigrants’. I know that most of the stories I have read in such papers mentioning anything to do with Islam tend to target the benefit scrounging/evil immigrant aspects rather than attack the religion with a few mentioning terrorist links (though mainly only as a main part of the story when there has been a recent attack or similar). There was a lot of press coverage of Abu Hamza, for example, both linking to his benefits claims and his extradition case.

      A not entirely unexpected pattern here, I have to say. This is one reason I rarely bother to read newspapers any more. The more I look at them, the more obvious the bias seems to be to me. Either I am getting better at spotting it or they are getting less good at hiding it….

      D.A Lascelles

      February 4, 2013 at 1:58 pm

  7. Great stuff. shared at craigmurray.org.uk


    February 7, 2013 at 11:33 pm

  8. […] Curious repeating headlines – newsframes.wordpress.com […]

  9. Great analysis of the headlines which paints a grim picture. Do you think people look for headlines that reinforce their views or that it’s the headlines which help form these views in the first first place? This country’s not what it used to be!


    February 8, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    • I think it’s both – no doubt there are multiple, complex historic causes resulting in a given viewpoint on the world, but constantly repeating front-page framing (which people read every day) is certainly an important factor, I would think. And then, of course, we tend to seek out information which confirms – rather than refutes – our prejudices.


      February 10, 2013 at 4:01 pm

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