Politicians, the Press & Propaganda: Lord Northcliffe & the Great War, 1914-1919

Politicians, the Press & Propaganda: Lord Northcliffe & the Great War, 1914-1919

Politicians, the Press & Propaganda: Lord Northcliffe & the Great War, 1914-1919

Politicians, the Press & Propaganda: Lord Northcliffe & the Great War, 1914-1919

Synopsis

Politicians, the Press, and Propaganda represents the most recent and most extensive research on Alfred Harmsworth (Lord Northcliffe), one of the "press lords" who influenced British politics and policy during the First World War. Thompson's is the only study to deal with Northcliffe and the inseparable quality of his public and political career from his journalism.

Excerpt

On 28 June 1919 the Great War between Britain and Germany finally came to an official end with the signing of the Versailles treaty. That same day Sir William Robertson Nicoll, editor of the British Weekly (the voice of nonconformity during the Great War), addressed a letter to Lord Northcliffe, who was convalescing from throat surgery. After expressing his pleasure at the news that the press lord was well on the road to recovery, Nicoll went on, "I do not think the country adequately appreciates the tremendous services you have rendered during the war. I am sure no one did more if anyone did as much.... The future holds great things for you and we look to you." The letter closed with the hope that "a great and worthy record of your war work will be written without exorbitant delay."

To cheer his press compatriot and in the general euphoria which followed the end of the war, Nicoll undoubtedly somewhat exaggerated Northcliffe's place in the conflict; however, his considerable role has been neglected by historians in the years since 1919. No study of Northcliffe in the Great War was ever published, and in 1922 the press lord was dead at age fifty-seven. His premature end ensured that the history of the terrible struggle would be written by a long list of other notable figures, including David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, and Lord Beaverbrook, most of whom were, to varying degrees, the targets of the press lord's criticisms during the conflict. It became convenient for his many opponents to forget just how influential and feared Northcliffe was from 1914 to 1918. Subsequent histories have followed this lead. His substantial role and his service to the nation have either gone unnoticed or else been relegated to narrow studies of the press and propaganda.

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