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Morally transforming the world or spinning a line? Politicians and the newspaper press in mid nineteenth-century Britain

Brown, David (2010) Morally transforming the world or spinning a line? Politicians and the newspaper press in mid nineteenth-century Britain. Historical Research, 83 (220). pp. 321-342. ISSN 0950-3471

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Abstract

As mid Victorian newspapers spoke of their ever more important role as educators and representatives of the 'people', the rise of a free and independent press seemed central to notions of an age of 'improvement'. However, for many politicians, the press remained simply a tool to be exploited in order to advance their political agendas. By examining the relationship between politicians and metropolitan journalism in the mid nineteenth century, this article contrasts the claims of a press growing in confidence with those of an increasingly media-literate political class and argues that the press was in practice far more the instrument of politicians than the rhetoric suggests.