[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,-- --There must be many
of your readers who would say " Thank you " when they read your footnote to the letter of " An Old Newspaper Manager," in your issue of January 22nd. Millions of people would have reason to " be sorry if the prac- tice of purchasing editorial space were introduced into this country " on an extensive scale.
And there is justification for real fear that the practice may extend ; for it has been adopted in some cases directly and in many cases indirectly. One body—that is a near enough de- scription—has for years paid for the publication of reports of lectures in the news.cohunns of daily and weekly newspapers ; in daily papers, as a rule, a summary of 500 to 1,000 words, and in local weeklies sometimes a full report extending to three or four columns.
Then there is the indirect way. It is common knowledge that advertisements .are often given on the promise of a good " write up " in the news columns. Events that are not adven tised are sometimes ignored altogether or dismissed with brief reports. A well-advertised event can generally reckon upon a " good notice." Even book reviews are not excluded from this practice.
The League of Nations Union has done useful work in. bringing knowledge of its scope and operations to the people of this country, but the attendance at many of the meetings, even in villages where there are no counter-attractions, has often been disappointing. If the League of Nations were to have a news bureau.in charge of a well-informed trained journalist, and were to approach the Newspaper Owners' Association, the Institute of Journalists, and the National Union of Journalists in Great Britain, and kindred societies in other countries, might it not be arranged that all material news regarding the League would receive fair treatment ? League of Nation news as an advertisement ! And columns of police court and scarcely more valuable, but not less sensational, news " splashed " with big headlines ! Would this be creditable to the British Press or patriotic ?
Although newspapers are larger than ever before, they do not always contain more real news. The so-called " special features " sometimes occupy more space than the news of the
day.--I am, Sir, &c., AN OLD NEWSPAPER EDITOR.