W.T. Stead and The Daily Paper

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W.T. Stead & The Daily Paper

I am more grieved than words can say. But my health has broken down and I am ordered to take a sea voyage to the Cape to get it up again.. I have had to stop the Daily Paper.

W.T. Stead to an un-named contributor to The Daily Paper

A dream of some twenty-five years, Stead’s The Daily Paper began its short life in October, 1893. It was a radical concept in that it was to be funded by its own subscribers by way of a debenture system. In this way, wrote Stead, The Daily Paper would have “the advantage which comes from enlisting the pecuniary interest of a large number of shareholders.” However, not even Stead’s devoted readers went for the scheme and the first incarnation of The Daily Paper never made it past one sample issue that appeared as a supplement to the Review of Reviews.

More sermonistic than journalistic, items such as “Saint of the Day”, “In Place of Morning Service” and “Wanted, an English Bible” set the religious tone for the new daily, while “Lady Brooke: a Telepathic Interview” played to Stead’s increasing preoccupation with spiritualism. Unperturbed by the failure of this early attempt, Stead relaunched the The Daily Paper in 1904 to considerable fanfare and expense. This second incarnation was aimed at domestic readers, particularly women, so much so that Stead omitted items concerning business and financial matters and set delivery for mid-morning to avoid competition with other morning dailies. By now, however, Stead had been out of daily journalism for too long. Once the king of “New Journalism”, he had long since been overtaken by new innovators such as Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe), whose newspaper revolution was profoundly changing daily journalism. The collapse of the second The Daily Paper, within weeks of its launch, took Stead to the brink of ruin and resulted in his nervous breakdown and near bankruptcy. He would never enter the world of daily journalism again.