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How Metro beat the red tops to become the most-read newspaper in Britain

Soon after moving into Downing Street, Theresa May hosted a private dinner for the editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre. Not long after, the then-foreign secretary Boris Johnson was snapped, in shorts, running alongside the editor of the Sun, Tony Gallagher. If asked to think of a successful tabloid editor, most people would think of a man (yes, probably still a man) like one of these two—at one and the same time thoroughly plugged in with the powerful, yet also obsessed with retaining a populist touch.

Yet the editor of the most-read newspaper in Britain is a man called Ted, a man you probably haven’t heard of, and certainly not a man in the habit of popping into Downing Street for a tétea- téte with the prime minister. Ted Young was appointed Editor of Metro, the freesheet distributed around all UK cities, in 2014 when it still lagged behind the far better known paid-for rivals, the Mail and the Sun.

You can sneer at its seemingly apolitical, even bland, mix of news and celebrity, and yet in March 2018, Metro was confirmed as the UK’s most-read newspaper—bigger than its more famous stablemate, the Daily Mail, bigger even than the Rupert Murdoch- owned Sun, which has topped the list of most-read daily titles since 1978. Just reflect on the myriad of ways that newspaper has enlivened, coarsened and pushed to the right Britain’s political discourse during its long decades at the top, and you’re likely to judge that the new occupant of the No. 1 spot is worth getting to know.

As for those of us on the inside of the media industry, swotting up on Metro should be a higher priority—not only because of its reach, with 1.5m copies of Metro distributed every day via transport networks in cities, but also because of its bottom line. Despite an existential crisis in the print advertising market, it turned up an £11m profit last year.

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In Prospect's September issue: Twenty-five years after the Oslo Accords, Israeli politician and former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg and journalist Donald Macintyre explore how the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict has diminished, with Burg arguing that a one-state solution is the only way forward. Jane Martinson visited the offices of the UK’s biggest-selling newspaper—Metro—to find out how it has risen to the top. Adam Tooze charts the ups and downs of the euro and argues that decisions made by the ECB have hampered the currency during its first 20 years in existence. Elsewhere in the issue: Michael Blastland suggests that early diagnosis isn’t all it’s made out to be and that many people have endured unnecessary suffering in an attempt to live longer. Wendy Ide examines the life and work of director David Lynch as she reviews his new memoir, which offers a glimpse behind the curtain.