Government by Journalism

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Government by Journalism was a form of New Journalism[1] pioneered by William Thomas Stead in which he began to think of journalism as more than just a position to report information, but through the paper the journalist or editor could become ruler.[2][3]

Lord Cromer and Government by Journalism[edit]

In 1883, Stead launched a crusade which resulted in General Gordon being sent to Sudan, where he was killed.[4] According to Stead's biographer Grace Eckley, this was an exhibit of Stead's "journalistic prowess".[5] Stead published an article titled "Lord Cromer and Government by Journalism"[6] detailing his viewpoint of the affair.[7]

The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon[edit]

The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon is an example of 'Government by Journalism', since it led to the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885,[8] also known as the 'Stead Act' or 'Stead's Act'.[9]

W. T. Stead wrote of the connection between the 'Tribute' series and his 'Government by Journalism' in his publication The Review of Reviews: "The Pall Mall Gazette, however, held its hand. Its object being to pass a new law, and not to pillory individuals, there was no need to mention names." [10]

Criticism[edit]

In 1887, Matthew Arnold was credited with coining the phrase "New Journalism", a term that went on to define an entire genre of newspaper history, particularly Lord Northcliffe's turn-of-the-century press empire. However, at the time, the target of Arnold's irritation was not Northcliffe, but the sensational journalism of Pall Mall Gazette editor, W.T. Stead.[11] He strongly disapproved of the muck-raking Stead, and declared that, under Stead, "the P.M.G., whatever may be its merits, is fast ceasing to be literature."[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Baylen, J.O. (December 1972). "The 'New Journalism' in Late Victorian Britain". Australian Journal of Politics & History. 18 (3): 367–385. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8497.1972.tb00602.x.
  2. ^ Soderlund, Gretchen (Jun 3, 2013). Sex Trafficking, Scandal, and the Transformation of Journalism, 1885-1917. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226021676. Stead had always been attracted to the idea of the journalist as preacher, but while serving his sentence in Holloway Prison, he began to think about the idea of the journalist as ruler.
  3. ^ Stead, William (1886). "Government by Journalism". The Contemporary Review. The very conception of journalism as an instrument of government is foreign to the mind of most journalists. Yet, if they could but think of it, the editorial pen is a sceptre of power, compared with which the sceptre of many a monarch is but a gilded lath.
  4. ^ Bennett, David (Dec 1, 2003). The General: William Booth, Volume 2. Xulon Press. ISBN 978-1287730040.
  5. ^ Eckley, Grace (Mar 8, 2007). Maiden Tribute: A Life of W.T. Stead. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 978-1425727086.[self-published source]
  6. ^ Stead, William (1908). "Lord Cromer and Government by Journalism". The Contemporary Review.
  7. ^ Robinson, W. Sydney (May 12, 2012). Muckraker: The Scandalous Life and Times of W. T. Stead, Britain's First Investigative Journalist. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 978-1849545853.
  8. ^ Pearce, Jenny (Sep 10, 2009). Young People and Sexual Exploitation: 'It's Not Hidden, You Just Aren't Looking'. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415407168. ...contributed to the drive for changes within The Criminal Law amendment Act of 1885, commonly known as Stead's Act...
  9. ^ Bell, Ernest (1912). Some Observations in Europe. The Light.
  10. ^ Stead, William (1908). "W. Randolf Hearst". The Review of Reviews.
  11. ^ "We have had opportunities of observing a new journalism which a clever and energetic man has lately invented. It has much to recommend it; it is full of ability, novelty, variety, sensation, sympathy, generous instincts; its one great fault is that it is feather-brained." Mathew Arnold, The Nineteenth century No. CXXIII. (May 1887) pp. 629–643. Available online at http://www.attackingthedevil.co.uk/related/easter.php
  12. ^ Quoted in Harold Begbie, The Life of General William Booth Archived 2012-03-14 at the Wayback Machine, (2 vols., New York, 1920). Available [online]

External links[edit]