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To what extent did the Press influence the development of aviation in Britain in favour of the aeroplane over the airship?

Coleman, Paul Michael (2014) To what extent did the Press influence the development of aviation in Britain in favour of the aeroplane over the airship? MA by research thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The role of the newspaper Press in the development of aviation has barely been examined by historians, particularly in relation to the concurrent development of the aeroplane and airship in the early 20th Century. Most studies, such as John Swinfield’s (2012) Airship Design, Development and Disaster, focus on the technical details and capabilities of the technology or on political-economic concerns. However, in attempting to explain the choice of the aeroplane over the airship by both civilian and military organisations by the early 1920’s, these studies have not considered the role of contemporary newspapers in mediating and moulding decisions about Government aviation policies. The ability of the early 20th Century Press Barons to influence British governments has been well documented by Curran& Seaton (2010). This influence was recognised by many politicians who sought the support of the Press for their campaigns. Lord Northcliffe, owner of The Times and Daily Mail, was well known for his interest in aviation and sought to influence government policy in regard to aerial defences against continental powers. His influence was demonstrated in the Shell Crisis of 1915, when the intervention of his papers led to the downfall of the Asquith government. By drawing on recently digitized Press sources this thesis explores the role of the press in debating the comparative merits of the airship and aeroplane, covering the periods before, during and after the Great War. I argue that as a strong advocate of aviation, Lord Northcliffe attempted to use his newspapers to influence public opinion and Government policy in favour of developing both heavier and lighter than air technologies, especially given the evidence of their complementary strengths during the war. I thus show that newspaper reports and articles may have had a significant effect on the evaluation of the airship in Britain, which, contributed to its eventual demise.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Keywords: Northcliffe, Newspaper, Press, Airships,
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Depositing User: Mr Paul Michael Coleman
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2020 15:18
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2020 15:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8092

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