Aged Newspapers : The Eye-port To the Previous

Old newspapers act as a window. They offer us a glimpse into days gone by and present us with real clues to the zeitgeist of the time. It’s why the newspaper archive has long been an important cog in historical research. It’s allowed people studying certain amount of history to achieve an insight into the approach of editors and the manner in which this method was received by the readership. And whereas newspapers were undoubtedly at their peak in the UK from around 1860 to 1910, the influence of the printed press on the populace should never be underestimated. The media’s coverage of both world wars, as reported in the home, are prime examples.

During World War One, for instance, there’s little doubt newspapers were fully likely to print what the us government wanted. The government were desperate for the British people to think what they needed to believe. The end result was no-holds-barred propaganda, in that the media bigwigs were very happy to play along. Headlines at the time included “Belgium child’s hands stop by Germans” and “Germans crucify Canadian officer”. naija news  Both were nonsense, but old newspaper articles like this, as well as accounts of babies skewered on German bayonets, cemented public hatred of ‘the hun’ ;.Atrocities aside, facts and casualty figures were significantly less than accurate, too, and were always ’tilted’ in British favour.

It absolutely was a ploy that worked, though. In fact, it was the Brits’ brilliant use of propaganda that could later serve as Hitler’s benchmark. He’d point to the success in ensuring German propaganda during World War Two was as effective as possible. His appointment of Joseph Goebbels as Reich Minister of Propaganda was also a shrewd move – evil yet gifted, Goebbels made sure German propaganda throughout the 30s and 40s was devastatingly effective.

As a result, it was imperative British propaganda competed with Nazi Germany’s during World War Two. Newspaper coverage played no small part in this and understandably fell in accordance with the government’s will to control national morale, as well as keeping it as high as possible. But unlike 30-odd years previously, this was achieved with an assortment of both astute reporting and outright propaganda. Publications including The Daily Express, The Daily Mirror and The Times therefore played an important role in shaping public perceptions of the war. They fed the public’s appetite with a calculated combination of pop culture on the one hand and war coverage on the other. The latter was often delivered on a human and emotional level, by relating events to individuals.

Today, historians point to these old newspaper articles as playing an essential role in assisting maintain the nation’s belief in the cause, particularly after 1939. A number of these papers, especially The Daily Express, served as Churchill’s mouthpiece and, when along with mediums like radio and cinematic propaganda, cemented and invigorated the country’s bulldog spirit. Think of it like this – historiography almost always shows that the minute a country’s morale is broken, their war is lost. Italy’s capitulation in 1943 was a case in point. It couldn’t eventually Britain. Thankfully, it didn’t.

Needless to say, the usefulness of old newspapers isn’t confined to providing historical accounts of war and suffering. They may also be used to achieve perspective on what you happen to be interested in. Getting your hands on them isn’t a concern either, with websites allowing you to select a specific publication and date, often going back to the initial half of the 19th century.



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