Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Media War

Somethings don't change, and one of them is the manipulative powers of the press! 
  The first news of the Charge of the Light Brigade (25 October 1854) reached London from the Paris Newspapers on 6 November 1854 and was confirmed by a respatch from Vienna on the 9 November. British 'official' dispatches by Lord Raglan arrived on the 12 November but were held back for publication by the Daily News until the following day to allow the report of their own correspondent, Lawrence Godkin to be published first.The Times witheld the dispatches of Raglan until the 18 November, having previously whipped up a media storm through the reports of W H Russell, its own 'leaders' and publishing openly critical letters from eye-witnesses. Thus Raglan's dispatches appeared to be a response to the claims of the papers; they did not have as much detail as the reports in the paper and nor did they have the emotional, personal charge of the newspaper reports or the letters sent home from the front. The papers were in control of the media war, were manipulating it for their own ends and all Raglan could do was write letters of protest from a position of relative impotence, undermined at the front and in authority through the power of the press and the influence the press and popular opinion held over his political masters. His letters to The Duke of Newcastle, Sidney Herbert and later Lord Panmure are an almost constant stream of rebuttal and self-defence from the accusations of the press. He lost the media war.
Here is the timeline
25 October 1854 Charge of the Light Brigade
27 October 1854 Lord Raglan writes his dispatch
5 November 1854 The French state newspaper, "Le Moniteur", publishes a report dated 4 November about "The Charge".

6 November 1854 "The Times" reproduces a translation of the report in "Le Moniteur"
8 November 1854 "The Morning Chronicle" publishes a translation of an Austrian dispatch recounting the Charge of the Light Brigade.

9 November 1854 "The Morning Chronicle" and the "Daily News" print an official dispatch from the British ambassador to Turkey, Lord Stratford de Radcliffe which describes, briefly, the Charge of the Light Brigade
12 November 1854 "The Daily News" publishes a first short report by Lawrence Godkin which condemns Lord Raglan and describes " great loss of life". Raglan's official despatch of 27 October reaches London.
13 November 1854 "The Times" prints a lengthy report by W H Russell which codemns Lord Raglan; Lord Raglan's despatch printed in "The Daily News" together with a lengthy condemnatory and highly detailed account by Godkin; Raglan's despatches printed in an "Extraordinary Gazette" of "The Morning Chronicle"
14 November 1854 "THe Manchester Times" reproduced Russell's and Godkins account of the Charge of the Light Brigade
14 -17 November 1854 "The Times" prints daily "Leaders" and reports by Russell condeming the Charge of the Light Brigade higlighting the incompetancy of the British high command but praising the heroism of the common cavalry trooper.The Times reinforces this message with letters written by eye-witnesses and survivors
18 November 1854 "The Times" publishes the official despatches of Lord Raglan.
20 November 1854  Casualty figures reach London; "The Manchester Guardian" demands and inquiry into the Charge, claiming Raglan, Lucan and Cardigan are incompetant.
Attention was switched from the disaster of Balaklava to the pyrrhic victory at Inkerman (5 November 1854) but "The Times" and "The Daily News" didnt let the matter lie......

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