Romance by other means : Scottish popular newspapers and the First World War

Goldie, David; Hart, Chris, ed. (2018) Romance by other means : Scottish popular newspapers and the First World War. In: World War 1. Midrash, London, pp. 230-57. ISBN 9781905984213

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The history of popular journalism in U.K. from the abolition of the stamp duty in 1855 to the First World War offers an illustration of a truism, popular among newspapermen, that war is a very good thing for newspapers. The Crimean War famously made the reputation of William Howard Russell in The Times, and subsequent wars, from the American Civil War to the Boer War, served to increase the circulations of existing papers and to create the conditions for new papers to come into being. One of the most significant newspapermen to exploit and benefit from this phenomenon was the founder of the Daily Mail and – by the time of the First World War – proprietor of The Times, Lord Northcliffe. When asked the question ‘What sells a newspaper?’, one of his editors is reputed to have replied: the first answer is ‘war’. War not only creates a supply of news but a demand for it. So deep-rooted is the fascination in a war and all things appertaining to it that . . . a paper has only to be able to put up on its placard "A Great Battle" for its sales to go up. That this was not merely a newspaperman’s hunch, but an established fact has been shown by John M. McEwen, who plotted a direct correlation between newspaper circulation figures and the major engagements of the First World War, with, for example, events such as the German naval raid on the British East Coast in 1916 doubling the circulations of the Star and Evening Standard.