Ealing Cinema

London Gossip newspapers

It is important to realize that "objective journalism" is a 20th Century concept. In the 17th through 19th Centuries all of the papers practiced an "advocacy" journalism. The papers were for or against a cause, or the government. It mattered greatly to its publishers and readers whether the paper was Tory or Whig. The Tatler intended to differ, as it would contain only "accounts of gallantry, pleasure and entertainment" according to its first issue in 1709, but of course a slant is and was shown by the choice of gossip printed. These editorial slants changed with the owners, editors, or the payments received to print stories. For example The Times, under its first editor, received stories and funds directly from the government, and all papers through the early 19th printed only favourable theatre review because they were written and paid for by the theater owners. In defence of The Times, they were the the first to do their own reviews, and found themselves in a battle with the theater owners.

A tax was first imposed on British newspapers in 1712. The tax was gradually increased until the 1815 Stamp Act increased it to 4d. a copy. As few people could afford to pay 6d. or 7d. for a newspaper, the tax restricted the circulation of most of these journals to people with fairly high incomes. Some radicals, such as Richard Carlile, ignored the law and continued to publish his newspaper, The Republican without paying stamp duty. The tax remained high until 1855 when it was reduced to 1d.

The London Gazette

The London Gazette got its start in 1665 at Oxford. In the autumn or that year Charles II sought shelter from the Great Plague by removing to Oxford. He and his courtiers wanted newspapers to read, yet feared to even touch the London papers for fear that they might be infected. Therefore Leonard Litchfeld, the university printer, was authorized and ordered to bring out a local paper. On Tuesday, November 14, 1665, the first number of "The Oxford Gazette" appeared, and it continued afterwards through eleven weeks on Thursdays and Mondays. These papers were reprinted in London. After the courts return to London the Paper followed and "The London Gazette" made its first appearance, labelled as issue No. 24, on February 5, 1666.

James Perry moved to The London Gazette in 1783. Perry edited the newspaper for eight years but when it was purchased by a group of Tories, he left to publish the Morning Chronicle.

The Tatler/The Spectator

The Tatler was founded by Richard Steele with the first issue published on April 12th, 1709, followed by thrice weekly issues. The Tatler's the main contributor was Issac Bickerstaff, the pseudonym used by Richard Steele and Joseph Addison. The Tatler was immediately succeeded by the Spectator in 1711.

The Tatler criticised the follies and foibles of society by the light of common sense. Its avowed intention was to present accounts of chivalry, pleasure, gossip, provide entertainment, and poetry. The aim of The Spectator, Addison said, was "...to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality." Steele attacked the false notions of honour that kept duelling in fashion.

The kindly and witty essays by these men appealed to the middle class in the coffeehouses rather than to the nobility in their palaces. The Spectator was issued six days a week and occasionally sold 3, 000 papers at 1p. each. Part of the reason for the demise of the spectator...

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