When examining a historical event, like the Boer War, there is a wealth of firsthand information to be found in newspaper archives. Emily Hobhouse took part in philanthropic work in South Africa during the time of the Boer War and both The Times and the Manchester Guardian reported on her work and opinions both in South African and England. The Times takes a much more negative approach to Hobhouse and her work and it can be shown throughout their archive of articles.
When comparing the two newspapers coverage of Hobhouse examining they type, length and tone of the articles helps to differentiate between the newspapers intentions and political agendas. It is also important to examine who was in charge of both newspapers and their view point of Hobhouse and the Boer War in order to further understand why they chose to portray Hobhouse in a certain manner.
It is best to begin with a brief biography of Emily Hobhouse in order to understand why she was in South Africa, her own viewpoints of the Boer War and how, in turn, this could have contributed to the coverage provided by The Times and the Manchester Guardian. When the Boer War began on October 11, 1899, Hobhouse set up a philanthropic committee called the South African Women and Children Distress Fund to collect money for those in need. In December of 1990 she travelled to South Africa in order to investigate the conditions the women and children were living in and to distribute the funds that she had collected.
Hobhouse saw firsthand the disease and death that resulted from overcrowding, lack of food and medical facilities in the camps in which Boer women and children were forced to live in. In June of 1901, Hobhouse published Report of a Visit to the Camps of Women and Children in the Cape and Orange River Colonies which outlined what she saw taking place while she was in South Africa. Because of Hobhoue’s report public discourse about the camps went from an argument about their military necessity, where women had no voice, to an argument where women had the central place and the main voice.
When beginning to compare The Times and the Manchester Guardian the differences between to two newspapers coverage of Emily Hobhouse are shown instantly when searching their archives. Although the achieve for the Manchester Guardian does not contain any letters to the editor written by Hobhouse, which could be due to their ability to report on her findings and opinions accurately, the Manchester Guardian contains a larger amount of articles about Hobhouse than The Times does.
It is still valuable to examine the letters to editor written by Hobhouse in The Times because they help to show how the newspaper had a bias towards Hobhouse, possibly because of her opinions on the Boer War. In terms of editorials written by Hobhouse, The Times only contains four which contain Hobhouse correcting information that The Times has written about her in previous articles and have an overall angry tone. For example, in an article entitled “Miss Hobhouse’s Meetings”, Hobhouse writes “On page 10 of The Times of to-day, column 2, there is a paragraph headed ‘Pro-Boer Movement’ …
May I point out to you that the meeting in question was not a pro-Boer meeting nor in any sense a political gathering. ” This quote shows that Hobhouse did not agree with what The Times was writing in regards to the meetings she was hosting and therefore, she wrote to the editor in order to correct incorrect information. Another exceptional example of how The Times misrepresented Hobhouse and her opinions is from the letter written to the editor on July 10, 1901.
Hobhouse wrote, “May| remove another misconception by explaining that first you have misquoted the sentence … and, secondly, you apparently put the words into my mouth. ” Here, Hobhouse is trying to explain and show how The Times quoted her incorrectly. She wrote to the editor in order to correct this misinformation and to ensure that her intended message was being reported accurately. These two quotes from Hobhouse’s letters to the editor demonstrate how The Time misrepresented her arguments and opinions of the Boer War.
This begins to show that The Times did not agree with the opinions of Hobhouse and her views on the war. A further look into The Times newspapers and why it chose to misrepresent Hobhouse and the newspaper opinions of the war involves examining the editor, George Earle Buckle. It should be noted that it is an editorial tradition of The Times to support the existing government. When Buckle became the editor of The Times this support did not change, his interests remained for the politics that were happening in England.
Because The Times had an editorial tradition to support the existing government it was also considered a mouthpiece for the government. Once knowing more about Buckle and his role at The Times it is easier to examine the newspaper’s coverage of Hobhouse and the Boer War. The Times viewed itself as a historical record and published letters and other information from a range of opinions about the Boer War, which explains why they published Hobhouse’s letters to the editor and information about her even though it went against supporting the British government.
Although The Times published Hobhouse’s articles in the interest of balance, they accused her of naivety, political bias and claimed that she applied standards of a civilized society where they were not appropriate. It becomes understandable now as to why Hobhouse’s letters to the editor, as shown in previous examples, were correcting The Times and came across with an angry tone. Emily Hobhouse spent her time in South Africa recording the hardships in which the Boer women and children had to live in.
Although Hobhouse wrote her report about these findings, The Times largely dismissed the reports regarding the high death rates of the women and children living in the camps. Furthermore, The Times accepted and allowed criticism about the preparations and the conduct of the war, similar to Hobhouse’s criticisms, they refused to accept that the conduct of the war included actions which had doubtful legal sanctions and did little to the end the war quickly. Hobhouse was trying to show with her report the disgraceful things that were being committed by the British Army in South Africa.
Therefore, because The Times did not believe and agree that this was taking place, becomes another reasons as to why the newspapers would publish articles that misrepresented Hobhouse and went against her opinions. In contrast to The Times articles and portrayal of Hobhouse is the Manchester Guardian which depicts her in an entirely different light. When beginning to look at a basic search of the Manchester Guardian’s archives, the articles about Hobhouse are longer and more detailed than those published in The Times.
Although Hobhouse did not write very many letters to editor of the Manchester Guardian, there are letters to the editor written by other that express their positive opinions of Hobhouse and her work. W. J. R. wrote to the editor about “Miss Hobhouse’s unselfish mission to South Africa. ” This quote helps to show that the Manchester Guardian’s reader agreed with what Hobhouse was doing even though it went against the government. Contrasting this quote to those found in The Times shows that Hobhouse was not misrepresented or misquoted, but praised for her work in South Africa.
A majority of the articles found in the Manchester Guardian’s archives are written by journalists about Hobhouse’s work in South Africa and her speeches to the public when she returned to England. In one article entitled “Miss Hobhouse’s Tour” the author describes Hobhouse actions as “truly Christian efforts to alleviate the cruel sufferings of the poor women and children in South Africa. ” This quote portrays Hobhouse and her actions in a positive light, showing how her actions brought the suffering of the Boer women and children to the public discourse in England.
Similarly to The Times, it is important to examine the editor of the Manchester Guardian, C. P. Scott, and how his views of the Boer War differed from those of Buckle and how this would in turn impact the coverage of Hobhouse in the Manchester Guardian. From before the Boer War broke out and until its conclusion, Scott consistently argued that we war was neither necessary or in Britain’s best interests. Before the war, Scott argued for a diplomatic resolution to the tensions taking place in South Africa. When the war began, he made numerous anti-war speeches and his journalistic activities became preeminent in his anti-war campaign.
During Scott’s time as editor it was recognized that the Manchester Guardian was one of the most important centers of his anti-war movement. Now knowing a part of Scott’s background and opinion of the Boer War, it begins to become clear as to why he would publish positive articles about Hobhouse because of their similar views of the war. Examining the Manchester Guardian in terms of its themes and the message it tried to portray to its readers during the war also helps to understand why it published numerous positive articles about Hobhouse.
Throughout the war the Manchester Guardian had two prominent themes; the financial and political costs of the war and the desirability of fighting a war in accordance with the traditional notions of honor and decency associated with England. The Manchester Guardian showed that England was not fighting the war in accordance with honor and decency by using Hobhouse’s information that she gathered while in South Africa. One article from the Manchester Guardian states “with regard to the narrative concerning camp life in South Africa, Miss Hobhouse said her purpose was not to give any exaggerated account of terrors or anything of that sort.
This quote demonstrates that the Manchester Guardian agreed with Hobhouse’s account of what took place in South Africa. Therefore, by reporting and agreeing with Hobhouse’s report of the Boer War, the Manchester Guardian was able to show that they did not believe the British Army was fighting the war in an honorable and decent fashion. Overall, because of the Manchester Guardian’s editor, C. P. Scott’s anti-war opinion the newspaper also took on the same viewpoint. This helps to explain why the Manchester Guardian wrote numerous lengthy articles explaining Hobhouse’s findings in South African and her meeting that were held in England.
Because the newspaper and Hobhouse had such similar views on the war it is understandable as to why they would want to publish a multitude of articles that are about Hobhouse and her opinions against the war. In contrast, The Times tended to agree with government policy and the newspaper reflected this. Therefore, Hobhouse, with her anti-war viewpoint was not portrayed in The Times in a positive light, like she was in the Manchester Guardian. In the case how Hobhouse was portrayed in each newspaper in came down to the editors of each newspaper and how the newspaper had previously reacted to government policy and war.