This evening I was wandering roung the National Portrait Gallery, just off Trafalgar Square, as it was open late (I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of which museums and art galleries keep late hours on which day of the week in London). Among other small exhibitions I found a selection of caricatures from Vanity Fair in the late nineteenth century.
There was a very fine picture by Baron Melchiorre Delfico, the man who created the Vanity Fair style in caricatures, of Baron de Reuter, founder of Reuter’s news agency, now known Thomson Reuters. The man clearly had a very impressive pair of mutton-chop whiskers. What was particularly interesting, however, is the comment that the editor had added in that long-ago issue of the magazine (December 14, 1872, since you ask).
As foreign news is now managed it is not too much to say that he who has the command of telegrams has the command of public opinion on foreign affairs.
First telegrams, then telephones, satellite phones, even e-mails. That is how journalists have viewed their own position in the world for some time now. It is not easy to accept that the Vanity Fair editor’s comment no longer applies.