Mark Wehrly


Throughout the nineteenth century, several developments contrived – mostly indirectly – to make newspaper publishing in Britain an attractive business prospect. These included rising literacy levels, the abolition of taxes on newspapers in 1855 and innovations in the way newspapers were produced and distributed. From the mid-nineteenth century onwards this had the effect, in both Britain and Ireland, of increasing in multiples the number of different newspapers that were published (Cullen, 1989: 4–5). Likewise, in Dublin as in London, lively debates took place on the desirability of these developments, and the question of the social function of journalism was widely discussed (Anon, 1858; Anon, 1863; Elrington, 1867; Autolycus, 1879). One of the most discernible changes in British journalism in the last quarter of the nineteenth century – and one also that intensified this debate – was a movement to a ‘new journalism’.

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