20 FEBRUARY 1959, Page 8

SOME DISTINGUISHED HANDS have been raised in horror at two

recent journalistic developments : the Industrial Correspondent of the News Chron- ic•le praising the steel industry in an advertisement, and the setting of a competition by Aims of Industry offering £500 to the writer of the best published article showing 'the beneficial contribu- tions made by free enterprise, trade and industry to the national life and economy.' When journal- ists lend their names to Big Business,' warns Cassandra in the Daily Mirror, 'they jeopardise their freedom of expression. They are in peril of sacrificing their independence.' But how many journalists have any freedom of expression? And how many have any independence to sacrifice? Cassandra certainly, and most journalists on the Manchester Guardian, the weeklies, the Observer and The Times, but how many others? On most of the popular papers now I should have thought that both freedom of expression and in- dependence were unusual. The Labour Cor- respondent of the Guardian is worried about the effect of the competition on 'journalistic integrit and wonders if 'the prizes constitute a temptation to a journalist 'to write articles he would not otherwise write.' It depends, I suppose, upon what you mean by 'otherwise.' Some of the most per- suasive pieces in praise of private enterprise that have come out of Fleet Street have in the past been written by firm believers in Socialism, and the fact that such people may now get a prize from Aims of Industry as well as their normal salary from their proprietor does not seem to me to be a matter for alarm