Local labour journalism in England and Wales, 1843-1891, with particular reference to the newspapers of W. Owen and J.T. Morgan
In the summer of 1873 two editors began to publish two distinct groups of explicitly radical working class local newspapers. Their common objective was to establish a national system of local labour newspapers to challenge the growing dominance of the 'commercial' press. Despite many differences of style, forcat and language - one of Morgan's papers was written entirely in Welsh - these two groups of newspapers attempted to attract a similar type of unionised working class reader, and in many important respects they also propounded a very similar philosophy of labour. The thesis outlines the development of these newspapers and traces the activities of their young and energetic editors. It suggests an explanation of their limited initial successes as journalist agitators and of their subsequent demise in the months and years following 1875, and locates their newspapers within the wider context of radical and Liberal journalism in the period 1843 to 1891. Four major issues are discussed, the first being the place of the Owen and the Morgan papers in the context of mid to late Nineteenth Century local journalism. The second issue concerns the sociology of the papers' potential readership, whilst the third relates to the financing of the two editors' respective newspaper ventures. Finally, the concept of 'labour journalism' as a distinct form of journalism in this period is examined. Both editors sought to serve the trade unionist and radical-Liberal movements, but both also guarded jealously their editorial independence from either trade union leaders or Liberal politicians. In so doing they not only recorded and interpreted events during a turbulent period of labour unrest, but they also provided many diverse groups of semi- and unskilled workers living between North Staffordshire and South Wales with a valuable means of communication and organisation.