Thursday 12 February 2009

Editors do get jailed - here's the proof

We are always being told that editors risk being sent to jail and therefore take ultimate responsibility for what is published in their newspapers. Now here is photographic proof that it can happen. A picture of legendary editor WT Stead in his prison uniform is up for auction, HoldtheFront Page reports today.
Society of Editors' director Bob Satchwell raised the issue yesterday on BBC Radio 4's The Media Show, arguing that as editors could be sent to prison they should be the ones to judge what went into their papers.
Stead while editor of the Pall Mall Gazette was jailed in 1885 for procuring and abducting a girl. He had bought a 13-year-old Eliza Armstrong from her mother for £5 in order to expose the scandal of child prostitution. The story caused an outrage and began: "The report of our secret commission will be read today with a shuddering horror that will thrill throughout the world."
Stead, who also edited the Northern Echo, was on the Titanic when it sank on its maiden voyage and was killed in the disaster.


Adam Macqueen said...

That's likely to be a photo taken after the prison sentence itself - Stead, who knew a marketing trick when he saw one, used to dress up in the uniform on the anniversary of the trial each year and parade though the streets of London with his staff handing out copies of the Pall Mall Gazette. He's a fascinating fella - invented crossheads and all sorts of other newspaper devices, then got into the paranormal in a big way in his later years, but despite attending hundreds of sceances and consulting pyschics all over the place, missed any warnings that going on the Titanic's maiden voyage might not be a good idea. I pitched a biography of him a few years back, but was told by publishers that there was "no interest in books about the media." Ho hum.

Jon Slattery said...

Thanks Adam,

Still goes to prove it's Ian Hislop who will go to jail rather than you.

As for the biography... I'd buy it.