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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The power behind the press : English newspapers in the Transvaal, 1870-1899 Robinson, Cynthia A.


The thesis explores the question of whether the Johannesburg English newspapers, and particularly The Johannesburg Star, were manipulated or were independent during the volatile years leading up to the outbreak, of the Second Boer War. Historians and contemporaries alike have argued that the editorial policy of the Star was dictated by either the mining magnates of the Rand or the imperial officials. This study approaches the question by first surveying the history of English newspapers in the Transvaal. It follows the history of the press from the early diamond boom days in Kimberley in the 1870s, through the Barberton gold rush, and on to the founding and growth of the Johannesburg papers. It is established that the precedent is for editors to run their newspapers with a high degree of independence. A close look at the development of the Star, including its financial structure, indicates that the group that the Star was connected with was the local reform movement. It is shown that the editor installed just prior to the war, W. F. Monypenny, was manipulated by imperial officials and Randlords acting in concert. However, Monypenny's editorship is an exception. The thesis concludes that, for the most part, editors on the Transvaal were independent in their editorial policymaking. The sources used in this study include more recent studies done by Alan Jeeves, A. P. Cartwright, R. V. Kubicek, Ronald Robinson and John Gallagher, and Andrew Porter among others. It also makes much use of Eric Rosenthal's history of the Argus Company. For primary sources, The Johannesburg Star is heavily consulted as are the accounts of the journalists themselves, especially Francis Dormer and Frederic Hamilton.

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