Information put to work: Provincial newspapers as publishers of specialist business and work information

Hobbs, Andrew orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5943-475X (2022) Information put to work: Provincial newspapers as publishers of specialist business and work information. In: Work and the Nineteenth-Century Press: Living Work for Living People. Unknown, 1 . Routledge, New York. ISBN 9781032346557

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While each trade and professional periodical targeted specific markets, a great deal of news and advertising aimed at the same readers appeared in newspapers and non-specialist periodicals, particularly provincial newspapers and periodicals. From the early nineteenth century, traditional town, city and county weekly newspapers devoted up to a quarter of their space to editorial and advertising of practical use to farmers, builders, merchants and mill owners (less so for the professions). From mid-century, some of the new provincial morning newspapers such as the Leeds Mercury published more trade and professional information than The Times. Newspapers were businesses which earned most of their income from selling advertising space. They had the same interests and world-view as other local businesses, as seen in their support for low rates (local property taxes) and for capital against labour, as in their coverage of trades unions, master and servant legislation and strikes. Typical trade and professional information included advertisements for building land, machinery and other trade products, businesses and business premises; editorial content included detailed reports of prices at local markets, the value of shares in local companies, shareholders’ meetings of public companies and columns of advice to farmers or factory workers. Some of this information, selected for a local readership, came from the specialist press, such as the Mark Lane Express for corn prices. The newspapers of each area reflected, and promoted, distinctive economic and occupational specialisms, and this business geography was woven into local and regional identities. As Victoria Gardner (2016: 5) notes, provincial newspapers were ‘communications brokers’, trading in local, national and global information which was of great value to other businesses, near and far.

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