History of the Times

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Compare and contrast several issues of the Times from the 1850s and the turn o f the century. How do you explain the changes and continuities in the Times between these years?

The role of newspapers in society to comment on and help shape cultural change has been evident since the first newspapers came into publication. The ability of the papers to adapt these changes quickly and effectively goes hand in hand with the longevity of the publication. This discussion will compare and contrast two issues of the Times newspaper with the first one from the 1st of January 1855 and the second from the 3rd of July 1899. The changes and continuities in the Times between these years will be highlighted and explained. A brief history on the development and implementation of the newspaper will be discussed, along with the analysis to establish the need for some of the changes made within the publication and the reasons for some of the continuities.

Established in 1785, the Times was founded by publisher John Walter in 1785 under the original name of The Daily Universal Register and converted to the name of Times in 1788. Walter acted as owner and editor of the paper for the next 17 years. Through Walker and the succession of the ownership and editorship to his son, also named John Walker, the newspaper established and enjoyed a reputation early on as an important and influential political and cultural commentator. A criticized disadvantage of the family owned nature of the Times saw the paper restricted to changes in the cultural make up of the society of the times. As the Times did not “remain outside the family pattern being more of a speculative phenomenon, and more subject to changes in the market." (Lee, 1976 p 50) The paper was adamant in establishing themselves as commentators of politics and not heavily aligned with a particular movement. The role of editor in 1809 was taken up John Stoddert, who after 18 years was replaced by Thomas Barnes. Under the influence of Barnes and then the continued influence of Barnes's predecessor, John Thadeus Delane as editor the paper worked it's way to establishing itself as a reputable reporting publication. (Kent, 1969, p191) The Times was the leader in the ranks at the time the profits made were able to be used to ensure the employment of the most notable journalists of the time, Sir Walter Besent, an intellectual and Cambridge graduated of the 1850's was quoted as saying "the only journalism that was accounted worthy of a gentleman and a scholar was the writing of lenders for the Times." (Walter in Kent, 1969 p 185)

The paper was able to assert dominance in the London daily's market partly due to the focus on advancing and allowing technologies to be purchased to ensure the fast production of the paper. "From its foundation, the Times had been closely connected with improvements in printing" (Williams, 1961 p 211) The introduction of the Koenig Steam Press in 1814 allowed the production of 1,000 sheets per hour, a far superior production rate than other broadsheets in publication allowing the Times to have the alibility to go to press later and as such ensuring the most up to date news was able to be a feature of the Times over all other dailies. The Koeing was replaced in 1827 by the Applegarth Press that saw production jump from 1,000 sheets being printed per hour up to 4,000. It was noted that "Britain was becoming the greatest industrial and trading country in the world: and The Times spoke for the industrial and mercantile classes' (Cranfield, 1978, p.159) This fierce loyalty to the paper was reflected in circulation figures leading up to the 1860's. For the 20 year period between 1835 and 1855 daily circulation of the paper steadily rose from under 10,000 copies per day to the publication and circulation of 60,000 copies per day. The Times next best competitor was the Morning Advertiser with a circulation rate of...
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