Just like Muggles, a witch or wizard also fancies a sit-down with a cup of tea and a newspaper or magazine from time to time. We saw quite a few of these wizarding world publications (from Which Broomstick? to Witch Weekly) but the two we learnt most about were the Daily Prophet, and the more, er, unconventional news source, The Quibbler.
Both publications perform important roles during Harry Potter’s story: while the Daily Prophet seemed to be the ‘go-to’ wizarding newspaper that pretty much everyone read, The Quibbler was the more eccentric choice, edited by Luna Lovegood’s dad, Xenophilius, who preferred to report on Crumple-Horned Snorkacks rather than, you know, actual news.
But if you were a wizard, what would you grab for? Here’s our case for each of these very different examples of wizarding journalism.
The case for the Daily Prophet
So the Daily Prophet was, seemingly, the most popular newspaper in the wizarding community – at least in the UK, at any rate. We never really saw any other newspapers, which put the Daily Prophet in a very powerful position. Harry and his friends swore by the newspaper for information – but sadly, it wasn’t always the most reliable.
For any wizard, getting a regular subscription to the Daily Prophet seemed obvious – if you wanted to learn about recent break-ins at Gringotts or gossip on Gilderoy Lockhart – the newspaper seemed like a good all-rounder. Major news stories were often broken by the paper, whether it was the attack at the Quidditch World Cup or the escape of several dangerous Death Eaters from Azkaban.
Certain characters really benefited from it too. For example, the Weasleys won a very welcome seven hundred Galleons from the newspaper’s prize draw, and as a consequence of that, had their photo taken for the paper. If that hadn’t happened, Sirius Black wouldn’t have spotted Scabbers, Ron’s ‘rat’ in the photo, and known how to track down the treacherous Peter Pettigrew. All in all, the paper was incredibly visible, useful and important. However…
Alas, with such a big responsibility to provide major news to the wizarding world, the Prophet was often susceptible to interference from outside sources – such as the Ministry of Magic. And the newspaper’s legitimacy could also be questioned thanks to its acid-tongued (or acid-quilled) gossip journalist Rita Skeeter, who preferred to let her Quick-Quotes Quill bend the truth for a good story or quote, rather than be totally honest. Rita’s nasty eye for a scoop led to Hagrid being ‘outed’ as a half-giant, and Harry becoming the face of many tabloid scandals during the Triwizard Tournament.
But the Prophet’s major downfall came during the rise of Lord Voldemort. Convinced the Dark wizard had not returned, Cornelius Fudge was determined to shut down any news of the uprising, leading to the Daily Prophet becoming untrustworthy. Things took an even worse turn when Voldemort did take over, and the Daily Prophet actually became controlled by his followers. Suddenly, suspicious deaths started getting covered up, and Harry Potter was named as a target ‘wanted for questioning about the death of Albus Dumbledore’. The Daily Prophet may have been a powerful newspaper, but taken into the wrong hands it became a dangerous tool for Voldemort. Basically, the whole thing went very 1984.
The case for The Quibbler
The Quibbler wasn’t very accurate, but at least it always seemed to have its heart in the right place. We were first introduced to it in Order of the Phoenix, when Luna was seen reading it upside down. That says it all, really.
If wizards wanted the basic facts, they would (usually) go to the Daily Prophet. But what if you want something a bit more fun to read on the commute? With cool features, hilarious stories and free Spectrespecs, there was never a dull moment with The Quibbler, edited by the equally eccentric Xenophilius Lovegood.
Although Hermione may have dismissed it as being ‘rubbish’, the magazine certainly made people smile, such as the piece about Sirius Black being a secret singing sensation – the nicest bit of coverage poor Sirius had had in years. When Harry went to The Quibbler to talk about Lord Voldemort’s rising, the magazine published the interview, finally getting Harry’s message out to the wizarding world, finally getting people to believe him. The Lovegoods were targeted by the Death Eaters as a result, but it was the right thing to do in the face of darkness when so many people didn't believe it.
Well, for one thing, apparently people didn’t get paid to write for The Quibbler, which isn’t cool. But the major con of the poor Quibbler was that it wasn’t taken very seriously for a long, long time. When Harry gave his tell-all interview to the magazine, it was the first time we saw the publication deliver some actual, proper journalism – even if that did have to come from resident hack Rita Skeeter. It was progress, for sure. But we wonder if the naïve Xenophilius Lovegood would have continued to carry on down that editorial road.
And the winner is…
After much deliberation, we appreciate the quirks and good nature of The Quibbler more, even if it was definitely not the most accurate news source in the world. But at least, in the face of Voldemort, it fought for integrity and truth in a time of great darkness.
Plus – free Spectrespecs, guys!