A news­pa­per born to bring front­line news back to home­front

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS - By Steve Fi­nan

The Sun­day Post was born for war. It de­buted on Oc­to­ber 4, 1914, a jour­nal­is­tic at­tempt to feed the news-rav­en­ous Scot­tish pub­lic in­for­ma­tion about the “race to the sea” in France.

It was all so ex­cit­ing. The con­flict seemed a ro­man­tic cavalry clash. The pub­lic, when not queu­ing to en­list, was ea­ger for tales of how their boys were do­ing. This was, of course, be­fore the Maxim ma­chine guns cut down the flowers.

News­pa­pers have a great re­spon­si­bil­ity in war­time, and also a great prob­lem. They must keep up morale at home, but at the same time carry ex­cit­ing tales of dan­ger and der­ring-do from the front.

The Sun­day Post was no dif­fer­ent. For in­stance, its head­line on Sun­day July 16, 1917 blared “Bri­tish Pierce Ger­man Third Line” and told of “Im­por­tant Fresh Suc­cesses For Bri­tish Troops”.

In re­al­ity, th­ese were the early ex­changes of the Bat­tle Of The Somme. The Army had just en­dured the sin­gle worst day in its his­tory. It suf­fered 57,450 ca­su­al­ties, 19,240 of whom were killed.

But the pub­lic didn’t want to read dread tales of in­dus­trial-scale death in the fields of north­ern France. It was deemed bet­ter for all con­cerned to re­port vic­to­ries and ex­ul­ta­tions over land gained, no mat­ter the hu­man cost that was un­fold­ing.

It is also in­ter­est­ing to note the evo­lu­tion of page de­sign as the war goes on. The fash­ion (and the re­stric­tions of hot me­tal page make-up) dic­tated densely-worded columns, bro­ken only by the fash­ion for triple and quadru­ple-lay­ered head­ings. But at times The Sun­day Post broke the mould.

The back page of the sou­venir edi­tion, in­side to­day, is given en­tirely to a map show­ing the lat­est ad­vances of the Al­lies.

The pa­per’s “End Of Empire” dec­la­ra­tion of November 10, 1918 is, as you can see from our re­pro­duc­tion, tri­umphal­ist, but not overly so. By this point, the pub­lic were aware of the ter­ri­ble cost of vic­tory.

The la­bel we at­tach a cen­tury later is “remembrance”. The dom­i­nant emo­tion of the pa­per, and the peo­ple, on the day was of re­lief.

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