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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: May 2012

The Contemporary Review, 1866–1900

from Annotated Bibliography

The Contemporary, started by Alexander Strahan also of Good Words, circulated pivotal articles on the profession of journalism and the anonymity of journalists. Its most famous columns, on press power, came from W. T. Stead's pen.

1. Kinnear, J. Boyd. “Anonymous Journalism.” 5 (1867): 324–39.

Confirmed that “[j]ournalism has gained a position so important and wields now a power so immense that an examination of the soundness of the principles on which it is conducted becomes a matter of urgent necessity. It represents the real thinking part of the nation.” If journalism was “to inform, to advise, and to direct,” it could not be anonymous without having its honesty and trustworthiness questioned. Newspapers were no longer advocates but judges who spoke in “authoritative” and “impartial” language. Yet anonymity allowed them to misrepresent, garble, and even falsify news without taking responsibility. A paper expressed an editor's ideas in a leader, so there was no need for secrecy. Political articles, criticism, and commentaries on finance and foreign policy should be signed to facilitate fair discussion and rewarded for “excellence and high principle.” Opposition to signature rested on habit, insecurity, and the avarice of owners unwilling to pay for merit. The French mandated signature as an instrument of official control; the British should promote voluntary signing monitored by public opinion. Aside that censorship kept the French press from being worse than it was.

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Perceptions of the Press in Nineteenth-Century British Periodicals
  • Online ISBN: 9781843317562
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