The Capitalist Press (originally published in The Gateway –1920)
[This is a review of a pamphlet I’ve been trying to track down for a year now – ed]
There is a story of an innocent man who boasted his impartiality, saying ‘The Daily Mail comes to the house in the morning. I take home the Evening News at night. We get the Weekly Despatch and the Sunday Pictorial on Sundays, and my daughter takes in the Daily Mirror. So that we hear all sides at our house.
If this poor man should read ‘The Capitalist Press’ (I.L.P. Information Committee, 5 York Buildings, London WC2, 2d) he will find that all his ‘sides’ emanate from the same Harmsworth Group of journalists and business managers. This very useful pamphlet shows what the newspaper press is (an agency for ‘the preservation of capitalist supremacy’): who owns each paper, who directs policy, and what this means to the nation in practice.
Thus the Western Mail opposes the findings of the Sankey Commission and systematically denounces the nationalization of the mines; and it transpires, as is here pointed out, that the paper is controlled by Lord Rhondda, and other colliery owners, one of whom stated in court, under cross-examination, that ‘Lord Rhondda was largely interested in coal mines, and is getting control of the Western Mail… he would have an opportunity of advocating the non-nationalization of the coal mines… He was to use his own control for his own benefit… and that control was looked upon as a matter of great financial importance… great commercial value.’
But as a newspaper director Lord Rhondda was not at all singular. All the directors here listed are directors of many other companies. That the capitalist press should denounce collective control of what should be public undertakings is no more than natural when we find the owners and controllers of that press figuring as directors, also, of concerns whose dividends would be socialised if the public interest were considered. Thus William May, one of the directors of the London Daily Express, is also a director of the Reading Electrical Supply Co. (chairman), the South Metropolian Electric Light and Power Co; the West Kent Electrical Co, and the Electrical Times Co. Sir E.A.Goulding, M.P, another member of the Express board, is also a director of two electrical companies, a gas company, a mining company, and five other companies, all of whose interests are up against the public advantage.
But I am not to say that there is not here and there a disinterested newspaper proprietor whose views are reflected in the paper he controls. This pamphlet shows that 234,050 shares of the Daily News are held by members of the Cadbury family. But the eldest of the Cadburys, George is, or used to be, a member of the Independent Labour Party, and the other day he wrote in the Daily News explaining that he was 81, had been for sixty years a supporter of the Liberal Party, ‘but during the last few years my sympathies have been with the best aspirations of Labour.’ His bona fide sympathies were proved by the fact that he founded the Garden Village of Bournville, which he handed over to a guild of the villagers to manage as seemed best to them. What is fully as much to the point, his paper supports all Collectivist tendencies and Labour aspirations and movements.
I have tried for some time to get hold of the original pamphlet ‘The Capitalist Press’ and after months have sourced it – but cannot actually read it. Though a public domain document it is in library/copyright ‘prison’ which seems ironic for a Socialist publication in this day and age when the more we know about the history of Socialism the better. If you are able to visit London School of Economics Library you can read it – the following links are appropriate. It’s a case of hidden in not too plain sight. It’s very frustrating not to be able to access such information directly online and perhaps serves to illustrate why at Gateway, we are doing all we can to bring ‘lost’ public domain work back into free access for all.
For the collection of the ILP papers:
And for details of the 1923 version of the pamphlet link HERE
The rest, I’m afraid, is up to you the interested reader. If anyone manages to source a copy of this pamphlet, we’d be happy to reprint it at Gateway. Of course, I know, it’s a lot easier just to buy some trivia from Amazon with one click, isn’t it? Now think for a minute why that might be? Could it be something to do with the Capitalist press?
To find past articles please use monthly archives.