The Times is a broadsheet national daily newspaper in the United Kingdom. It is presently part of the News Corporation group, controlled by Rupert Murdoch. For much of its history it was regarded as without rival, the 'newspaper of record' for Britain and played an influential role in politics and shaping public opinion to foreign events. More recently it has tended to reflect its proprietor's conservative political views.
The Times is sometimes referred to by people outside the UK as The London Times or The Times of London in order to distinguish it from the many other Times papers.
The Times was started by John Walter in 1785, as The Daily Universal Register, changing its title on January 1, 1788 to The Times. John Walter was also the first editor of the paper. He resigned in 1803 handing ownership and editorship to the second John Walter. The first John Walter had already spent sixteen months in Newgate prison for certain libels printed in The Times, but his pioneering efforts to obtain European news, especially from France, helped build the paper reputation among policy makers and financiers.
The Times used contributions from significant figures in the fields of politics, science, literature, and the arts to build its reputation. For much of its early life the profits of The Times were very large and the competition minimal, and so it could pay far better than its rivals for information or writers.
In 1809 John Stoddart was appointed general editor, replaced in 1817, with Thomas Barnes. Under Barnes and his successor in 1841, John Thaddeus Dalane, the influence of The Times rose to great heights, especially in politics and amongst the City. Peter Fraser and Edward Sterling were two noted hacks and gained for The Times the pompous nickname 'The Thunderer' (from "We thundered out the other day an article on social and political reform").
It was the first newspaper to send special correspondents abroad, and it was the first to send correspondents after particular conflicts. W. H. Russell, its correspondent with the army in the Crimean War was immensely influential with his dispatches back to England
In other events of the 19th Century The Times opposed the repeal of the Corn Laws, until the level of the demonstrations convinced it otherwise. During the American Civil War, The Times represented the view of the wealthy classes, favouring the secessionists, but it was not a supporter of slavery. Its support of individual politicians was very much internally driven and it did not pander to public opinion.
John Walter the third had succeeded his father in 1847. Though the Walters were becoming more conservative, the paper continued more or less independent. From the 1850s however The Times was beginning to suffer from the rise in competition from the penny press - notably The Daily Telegraph and the Morning Post.
Until the 1960s The Times was noted for having advertisement on the front page and sometimes succeeding pages: the Personal column was a source of much interest to readers (lost objects, lost heirs and cryptic communications etc).
- Adapted from the Wikipedia article, "The Times" January 1,