Courtesy Reuters

The British Press

EVERY day some ten million copies of the nine London morning newspapers leave the presses, so that London alone supplies one newspaper for every fourth man, woman and child in the country. The aggregate circulation of the three afternoon papers is about 1,750,000; but their coverage is pretty well confined to the actual metropolitan area. There are about a dozen provincial newspapers which are leaders in their respective fields; but when these have duly been taken into consideration, the fact remains that for our present purpose London is not only England, but to a very large extent Scotland and Wales as well. To say this is in no way to deprecate the high standard of journalism to be found in British provincial cities; it is merely to recognize the centralization of the interests of a comparatively small and densely populated country about an urban agglomeration which contains one-fourth of its entire population, and which is at the same time its political, social, intellectual, financial and industrial capital.

The geography of the country serves further to confirm London's supremacy. Three-fourths of England's population live within five hours' train journey from the metropolis. Eight hours takes one to Glasgow or Edinburgh. Even those newspapers which are printed only in London, therefore, can be laid on the breakfast tables of the greater part of England upon the morning of their publication; while those which print duplicate editions in Manchester or Glasgow can virtually blanket the British Isles.

The assumption would be pardonable that such concentration would tend to confer upon the London press a position of unique authority. The equation, however, is not so simple as that. In the last resort the authority of any influence upon public opinion must depend upon the factors by which the public has been conditioned to react to such influences. In Great Britain these factors are both complex and subtle, so that while the press is in no sense a subservient one, its power over the public mind is

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