chapter  3
25 Pages

Holding up the Truest Portraits of Men’s Minds

The following letter of JUNIUS we thought too remarkable to be omitted, notwithstanding its extraordinary length obliges us to postpone the inserting several Advertisements, etc.

Berrow’s Worcester Journal, 28 December 1769

Editorial selection, although a difficult problem, helped to produce a rich variety in the contents of the newspapers, especially in those of London. For most papers the preponderance of national and international news is clear, and this will be dealt with in a subsequent chapter. While political news was regarded as an essential aspect of most papers, this was not true to anything like the same degree for any other items, bar advertisements. The variety in non-political news is difficult to chart as it is unclear how far it reflected the interests of readers, the availability of items and the activities of competitors. Newspapers made reference to the inclusion of items in order to please their readers, but such claims have to be handled with care: not all papers would have been willing to admit that they had nothing else free and convenient to include, or that they were emulating rivals. All though sought readers. The ‘Advertisers’, papers which made clear, not least through their titles and layouts, that their prime rationale was as advertising sheets, needed readers in order to ensure advertising revenue. Papers that depended on political subsidies could not expect to enjoy them unless they were read, either directly or through excerpting by other newspapers. Thus all editors were determined to provide a product that would be consumed, contents that people wished to read.