Vote for the front page of the last 100 years

Newsnight viewers are being invited to vote for their most memorable newspaper front page of the last century.

Launched by the BBC and the British Library, the Library will open a major exhibition in ten days time to showcase hundreds of national front pages.

Rather than simply refreshing the minds of viewers and potential voters, the exhibition is being held to mark 100 years at the Newspaper Publishers Association.

Newsnight, the British Library and a team of advocates – well known figures from the worlds of journalism, science, sport and culture - has short-listed 11 front pages from the exhibition representing “the most important events or episodes of the last 100 years.”

Thanks to a series of films, released on Tuesday May 9, the advocates have been discussing the front pages, and plotting arguments for their relative merits.

Newsnight viewers will then be able to vote for the paper and story they consider most memorable – and the arguments they find most persuasive.

Viewers can vote via and the result of the poll will be announced on air on Thursday May 25 at a special event to be held at the British Library.

Among the front pages chosen for the series are reports of the first manned landing on the Moon; the suffragette campaign for women to get the vote; Black Power salutes by US athletes at the Mexico Olympics; and the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Peter Barron, Newsnight Editor, said: "Every day, Britons buy millions of newspapers, and every day editors strive to produce front pages that will best attract their readers, and reflect what they believe is the most important event in the world.

“In the process, the last century has seen some of the most vigorous front pages reporting the news – and in some cases, making it.”

The 11 front pages, together with their main headlines, and their advocates - not necessarily in order of transmission - are:

1. The First Footstep – Evening Standard, 21 July 1969

United States astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" as the Apollo XI commander became the first man on the Moon, was a defining moment.

Broadcaster Adam Hart-Davis argues for the event's historic importance.

2. The War Is Over, Says The IRA – The Independent, 29 July 2005

Britain's troubled relations with Ireland in the 20th century saw the Easter Rising, the birth of the Irish Free State – today the Irish Republic - and from the late Sixties, the Troubles. The Independent's story reflects a potential turning point.

Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun, argues that the Independent's treatment of the story reflects a vitality typical of the tabloids.

3. Murderers – The Daily Mail, 14 February 1997

The murder of Stephen Lawrence, a black student, in south London, was elevated to symbolic status when the Daily Mail accused a group of men of a racially-inspired killing.

No convictions resulted, but the case was one of several that highlighted the stresses of race relations in a changing Britain, argues Gurinder Chadha, director of Bend it like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice.

4. Dunkirk Defence Defies 300,000 – Daily Sketch, 3 June 1940

The seemingly miraculous escape of 300,000 British troops from Hitler's advancing armies in an armada of 'little ships' was greeted at home as proof that Britain could survive to fight on against the Nazis.

Paddy Ashdown, former Liberal Democrat leader and one-time commando, argues it was a genuine turning point in the Second World War.

5. Gotcha – The Sun, 4 May 1982

News of the sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano by a British nuclear submarine during the Falklands War was greeted enthusiastically by "the paper that backs our boys" – though the headline was changed to Did 1200 Argies Drown? for later editions.

Germaine Greer argues that it epitomises a disfiguring trait in modern tabloid newspapers.

6. Black Power Salutes at Olympics – Evening News, October 1968

Athlete Linford Christie talks about how sport moved from the back page to the front, and an event that had a personal significance for him.

7. Mrs Pankhurst Arrested At The Gates Of Buckingham Palace In Trying To Present a Petition To The King – Daily Mirror, 22 May 1914

The militant campaign by the suffragettes to get women the vote represents a major 20th century movement as women progressively sought equal rights, in politics, at the workplace, and in all other areas of life, argues Clare Short, Labour MP and former government minister.

8. Up Yours Delors! - The Sun, 1 November 1990

Britain's relationship with the rest of Europe has often been a fractious one over the last hundred years, with tensions within and towards the European Union dividing the main political parties.

The rumbustious headline of The Sun marked a new turn in an old argument, says Boris Johnson, Conservative MP.

9. He Lied And Lied And Lied – The Guardian, 21 June 1997

The disgrace of former Tory minister Jonathan Aitken, who would be jailed for perjury, represents the powers of the press at its best, challenging those in positions of authority, argues a yet-to-be confirmed advocate.

10. War On America - The Daily Telegraph, 12 September 2001

An unforgettable image, of New York's Twin Towers ablaze and falling, together with a simple headline, and covering the entire page of a broadsheet newspaper.

Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, former diplomat and chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, argues that an event that seemingly ushered the world into a new era of uncertainty has enduring significance.

11. Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster – The Sun

Freddie Starr tells all.

"Some of our advocates' choices reflect the big events of the last 100 years, others the more gradual movements that helped create today's society,” Mr Barron added.

“I'm looking forward to a fascinating debate, and to hearing the opinions of our viewers.”


15th May 2006

Related News

Latest News