Black and White and Dominant

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Black and White in the Mainstream Media’s Mirror – February 21, 1891 (Page 100)

Below an eye-catching ad for an inane health product (The Electropathic Belt!) Black and White reproduces examples of just how warmly its first issue has been received within the mainstream press. That debut had boldly declared an intention to join the high ranks of the British media (see Introduction), and here the journal seems to show that it has been invited to do so by industry leaders. It is a self-advertisement, of course, though an unadorned one; the solemnity of its presentation (“‘Black and White.” Some opinions about our first number”) exemplifies the journal’s wish to be taken seriously.

The two columns of blurbs are tellingly divided: the first has three long paragraphs, from the reputable Standard, the Pall Mall Gazette, and the Globe. The second column has much shorter sentences from nine other papers, which predictably become less significant as they run to the bottom of the page (last of all is the Yorkshire Post). Perhaps the page invests in the pecking order of the media precisely because the first issue, as mentioned earlier, promised to rise to the top.

With few exceptions, these blurbs take all their cues from the boasts within Black and White’s “Note About Ourselves.” The Pall Mall and the Globe, in fact, lift entire sentences directly (though, strangely, the Globe omits quotation marks for its remark on “inevitable shortcomings”). These “opinions” duplicate (and thus corroborate) Black and White’s own conception of its excellence. In this media echo chamber, the young journal officially discovers, and sees reflected back to itself, its voice of “objective” authority.

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