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BINGHAM Adrian, Family Newspapers ? Sex, Private Life, and the British Popular Press 1918-1978, Oxford University Press, 2009.

Family Newspapers ? provides the first detailed historical study of the modern popular press’s coverage of sex and private life, from the start of the mass newspaper reading boom in 1918 to the triumph of the Sun’s sexualised journalism in 1978. In this period, newspapers were at the heart of British popular culture, and Fleet Street’s preoccupation with sex meant that the press was a hugely significant source of knowledge and imagery about sexual behaviour, personal relationships, and moral codes. Focusing on changing ideas of what sexual content was deemed ’fit to print’, Adrian Bingham reveals how editors negotiated the tension between exploiting public curiosity about sex and ensuring that their journalism remained within the bounds of acceptability for a ’family newspaper’. The study challenges established interpretations of social change by drawing attention to the ways in which the press opened up the public discussion of sexuality before the ’permissiveness’ of the 1960s. Exploring the spectacular diversity of the press’s sexual content - from advice columns to pin-ups, from court reports to celebrity revelations - Bingham offers a rich and thought-provoking investigation of a media form that has done much to shape the character of modern Britain.
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