"The Prophet exists to sell itself, you silly girl."
-- Rita Skeeter to Hermione, who had questioned the Daily Prophet's purpose (OP25)
The Daily Prophet is the newspaper of the Wizarding World. It has been in existence since at least 1883, since Quidditch Through the Ages cites its coverage of Quidditch from that time (QA6).
The editor in the 1990s is Barnabas Cuffe (HBP4). It has offices in Diagon Alley (DP, Pm) and publishes an edition every morning. Evening editions are also printed, and these can apparently be delivered very quickly after an important story breaks. A witch or wizard anywhere in Britain can have a copy in hand within a short time of publication. For example, when Ron and Harry were spotted by Muggles flying the Ford Anglia, Professor Snape had a copy of the Prophet in his hand telling about it very shortly after they arrived (CS5). One of the Muggles who spotted them was in Peebles, which is relatively close to Hogwarts, so the story couldn’t have been more than an hour old at that point. Alternatively, the text of a copy of the Prophet delivered in the morning might change as the day wears on with the latest news using something similar to the Protean Charm which Hermione used on the fake Galleons.
Typically, the Prophet is delivered each morning by owl post (PS5, GF28, OP1, OP12, HBP11). A subscription can be paid for in advance or the recipient can pay for the newspaper when it arrives by putting the coins in a small pouch on the leg of the post owl who delivers it. The cost per issue was five Knuts the summer before Harry’s first year (PS5) but appears to have risen to seven Knuts later on (DP1).
The Prophet is not the only publication in the Wizarding World, but it is almost certainly the most widely read. Stories in the Prophet often color public opinion to a great amount. When the Prophet published stories deriding Harry Potter and Dumbledore, most people in the Wizarding World believed what they read.
As happened during the summer of 1995, when Harry and Dumbledore were slandered in the Prophet, it is possible for the newspaper to be manipulated and for its content to be slanted intentionally. The Ministry of Magic was responsible for the unfair journalism of that summer as Cornelius Fudge strove to discredit Dumbledore’s account of the return of Voldemort. Unfortunately, the Prophet does not seem to have a lot of journalistic integrity, as is clear from the fact that Rita Skeeter wrote for it regularly (with a short enforced hiatus from the spring of 1995).
The Quidditch section is headed by a boxed table of all the teams in the league ranked by total number of points scored (left hand column) with Forthcoming Matches listed side-by-side with it on the right. The rest of the Quidditch section consists of a series of articles on recent matches and other items of interest (see list of headlines below) (DP1, DP2, DP3, DP4).
The paper also includes a Classified Advertisements section, with subheadings of JOBS, FOR SALE, LONELY HEARTS. Rather than Post Office Boxes, the LONELY HEARTS advertisements direct replies to OWL BOX numbers. The BIRTHS and DEATHS also appear on this page (DP2).
There can be a Problem Page with experts in various fields who attempt to answer readers' questions on a variety of topics: medical queries, emotional dilemmas, legal problems, and everyday magical problems (DP3).
The regular gossip column is written by Rita Skeeter. Her readers had voted Luna Lovegood's wedding dress the "Most Hideous Outfit of the Year" after Luna's marriage to Rolf Scamander (QWC).
List of Daily Prophet writers and employees
Headlines and articles
List of Daily Prophet headlines and articles
Notes and interesting facts
In the late 1990s, J. K. Rowling wrote four issues of The Daily Prophet as newsletters for a short-lived Harry Potter Fan Club sponsored by Bloomsbury Books (DP).
"The Daily xxx" is a common newspaper name. As a prophet predicts or foresees the future, The Daily Prophet makes sense as a newspaper name for the wizarding world. The word prophet is also a close homonym for the word profit, something the newspaper is also very interested in.
There are several British newspapers with the word "Daily" in the title: Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, etc.
In the world of D.C. Comics, Superman (alias Clark Kent) works at the Daily Planet.
Although the dates printed on the Daily Prophet Newsletters are:
the timeframe for these events is 1992-1993.
From the Web
Writing by J K Rowling on WizardingWorld.com (Pottermore): The Daily Prophet
Writing by J K Rowling on Imgur (Daily Prophet coverage of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup, originally from Pottermore):
- History of the Quidditch World Cup
- Quidditch World Cup 1990-2014
- Match reports and articles from the 2014 Quidditch World Cup
Harry Potter Wiki: Daily Prophet
Harry Potter and Children’s Perceptions of the News Media by Amanda Sturgill, Jessica Winney and Tina Libhart (scholarly article from American Communication Journal)