How the papers reacted to the Hillsborough report
Summary of the media coverage
13 September ~ The Report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel has inevitably dominated today's newspapers. A lot of focus was on how the Sun would react in the wake of evidence that their The Truth headline was, actually, not true. They lead with the headline The Real Truth and the story fills the first five pages of the paper, including descriptions of the members of the panel and reaction from Steven Gerrard. They end with an apology entitled We are sorry for our gravest error. It states: "The vast majority of current employees did not work for this newspaper in April 1989. Many were still at school. Some were not even born."
The editorial then continues: "But we do not seek to use that to hide from the reality that a newspaper that prides itself on serving ordinary hard-working people betrayed their trust 23 years ago. The people of Liverpool may never forgive us for the injustice we did them. All we can do is offer them an unreserved and heartfelt apology that is profound, sincere and unambiguous."
The story is given similar prominence in the Daily Mirror, who use their competitor's headline from 1989, going with The Truth. Comment pieces by Robbie Fowler, Mark Lawrenson and Kenny Dalglish add to an article by campaigner Brian Reade, who recounts the fight for justice over the last two decades. The paper makes a strong show of their continuing support for the victims' families over the years and calls loudly for prosecutions to begin.
The Daily Mail front page leads with images of the 96 victims of the disaster and, like the Mirror, questions whether they will now get justice. The story itself is relegated to pages four and five, after Prince William's announcement that he would like to have two children and analysis of the Duchess of Cambridge's dress choices. One article, Named, blamed and shamed, picks out the key figures who helped to spread misinformation in the aftermath of the disaster. The story is also given a prominent position on the back page of the paper. Matt Lawton, Ian Ladyman and Dominic King report on calls to end songs by rival fans about Hillsborough and Munich.
The Daily Express leads with Migrants blamed for surge in crime next to a picture of a cheerful Duchess of Cambridge. Hillsborough: The shocking cover-up fills the banner headline above and pages four and five are dedicated to the story. A small box reports on calls to put those responsible on trial, accompanied by a 35p-per-text reader vote asking if the "liars should be brought to justice".
Of the broadsheets only the Telegraph does not put Hillsborough on the front page. Instead it gives the first five pages of their dedicated sports section to reviewing the "catalogue of errors". Alan Hansen writes under the heading This was the most important day in Liverpool's history while Henry Winter opens with the line "Closure is a concept impossible to comprehend".
In the Times Tony Evans writes: "My eye-witness version – with its broken and twisted limbs ad young people dying in the sunshine – was discounted as Scouse revisionism." He suggests that, while Liverpool's reputation as a city has been restored, there will never be a sense of victory. In the sport section Oliver Kay reflects on the way football fans were treated at the time and how stadiums became such neglected and dangerous places.
The Guardian has Hillsborough: the reckoning on their front page, with David Conn and Owen Gibson analysing the key findings of the report. They also reserve plenty of space for the apology from former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie. The cartoon by Steve Bell on page 35 also focuses on the Sun. It reads: "The Sun: Believe the date and nothing else".
The Independent concentrates on the length of time it has taken for the truth to come out and the move to bring those responsible to justice. They offer a timeline of events from the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 to the aftermath of the disaster. They also have accounts from the only paramedic at the Leppings Lane end of the ground, a priest who held a service near Anfield on the night of the disaster and a girl whose father died in the crush.
On the subject...