Henry Yates Thompson to W.T. Stead-2

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Henry Yates Thompson to W.T. Stead (September 28, 1888)

Quoted in J. W. Robertson Scott, The Life and Death of a Newspaper (1952) p. 150

To my eye the vital point now is to revert to the way of conducting the paper which succeeded so well in 1883-4-5. When you began with it in 1883 the average daily circulation was 8,360. In two years that rose to 12,250 for 1885 and it was still better in the first half of 1886. The means of distribution were no better then than now. My belief is that with similar conduct of the paper there would be similar results. By all means let us try and improve distribution but don’t let us expect much money return from that. Our plain interest lies in the vigorous but steady conduct of the paper. From that we may expect and shall get a regular if gradual increase of circulation. The vital point now is, can we regain the confidence of our public—the penny as compared with the halfpenny public—which we have to a great extent lost? I speak both of readers and advertisers. My belief is that people’s memories are very short, even advertisers’, and that the position is recoverable with care, but only with care.

I don’t take to the idea of your working the syndicate business on your own account as a quid pro quo.

But I will do this: To show that my move is the result of bona fide distress and alarm at risks already run and losses realised, and more as an insurance against such risks in future than anything else, I will undertake at the end of 1889, if during that year the conditions of caution now agreed to you have been consistently carried out (of which of course I must be judge) to make up to you in one sum the amount (£200) by which your salary will have been reduced for that year. And similarly at the end subsequent years.