Originally launched by newspaper magnate Alfred Harmsworth (the later Lord Northcliffe) in 1903 as a newspaper by women for women, it quickly dropped that format and became a pictorial newssheet (as the Daily Illustrated Mirror) in January 1904, then reverted to the original title and became unisex just three months later.
It was a right-wing, middle-market newspaper under Northcliffe and its subsequent owner, Northcliffe’s younger brother Lord Rothermere (who also owned the Daily Mail); in the early 1930s it briefly flirted with Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists. However, a change of ownership led to a complete revamp of the paper as a sensationalist, left-wing, down-market paper, and a transformation of its fortunes – by 1939 it was selling 1.4 million copies a day, and towards the end of the 1940s it was approaching the 5 million mark. It remains the only national newspaper to support Labour consistently since 1945.
Its owners shot themselves in the foot in 1969, though – having taken over the Daily Herald (another popular Labour daily) in 1960, they attempted to relaunch it in 1964 as a mid-market paper, The Sun. When that failed to take off, they sold it to Rupert Murdoch – who promptly relaunched it as a tabloid aimed at the same market as the Mirror. By the mid-Seventies The Sun‘s sales had overtaken those of the Mirror. The Mirror‘s never really recovered since, and in the early 2000s it was pushed into third place by the Daily Mail.
Besides the main edition for England & Wales there are separate editions for Northern Ireland (Daily Mirror Ulster Edition), the Republic of Ireland and overseas, but they all share the same website without any kind of distinctive branding or mini-site. Although a few thousand copies of the main edition are sold in Scotland, it’s dwarfed by its sister tabloid, the Daily Record – even the overseas edition sells more.
In June 2012 the Daily Mirror and its weekend counterpart the Sunday Mirror were merged into a single seven-day operation under former editor of the Sunday People, Lloyd Embley. The editors of the two separate operations, Richard Wallace and Tina Weaver, were made redundant.
It’s available free from Monday to Friday (or seven days a week for readers outside the UK) as an app for iOS and Android devices.