Saturday, 5 August 2017

Hulton and Picture Post

Edward Hulton the son of the wealthy newspaper propietor, Edward Hulton, was born in Harrogate, Yorkshire, in 1906. After being educated at Harrow and Brasenose College, Oxford, he became a lawyer.

In November 1936 he inherited £6 million from his father's estate. He used the money to establish the Farmer's Weekly and Nursing Mirror.

In 1938 Hulton purchased Lilliput for £20,000 from its founder, Stefan Lorant. Later that year Hulton agreed to a suggestion by Lorant and Tom Hopkinson to publish Picture Post, a magazine that pioneered photojournalism. The magazine was an immediate success and after four months was selling 1,350,000 copies a week.

When Stefan Lorant emigrated to the United States in 1940 Tom Hopkinson took over as editor. Hopkinson recruited a team of talented writers and photographers including Tom Winteringham, Macdonald Hastings, Maurice Edelman, Walter Greenwood, Lionel Birch, A. L. Lloyd, Anne Scott-James, James Cameron, Robert Kee, Sydney Jacobson, Ted Castle, Bert Hardy and Kurt Hutton.

Hopkinson used the Picture Post to campaign against the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany. In the journal published on 26th November 1938, he ran a picture story entitled Back to the Middle Ages. Photographs of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, Herman Goeringand Julius Steicher were contrasted with the faces of those scientists, writers and actors they were persecuting.

In January 1941 Tom Hopkinson published his Plan for Britain. This included minimum wages throughout industry, full employment, child allowances, a national health service, the planned use of land and a complete overhaul of education. This document led to discussions about post-war Britain and was the forerunner of the Beveridge Report that was published in December 1943.

The sales of the Picture Post increased rapidly during the Second World War and by December 1943 the magazine was selling 950,000 copies a week. The trend continued after the war and by the end of 1949 circulation reached 1,422,000 with profits of over £2,500 a week.

Tom Hopkinson was often in conflict with Hulton, who supported the Conservative Party, and objected to Hopkinson's socialist views. In August 1945 Hulton wrote to Hopkinson telling him that "I cannot permit editors of my newspapers to become organs of Communist propaganda. Still less to make the great newspaper which I built up a laughing-stock."

In 1950 Hopkinson sent James Cameron and Bert Hardy to report on the Korean War. While in Korea the two men produced three illustrated stories for Picture Post. This included the landing of General Douglas MacArthur and his troops at Inchon. Cameron also wrote a piece about the way that the South Koreans were treating their political prisoners. Hulton considered the article to be "communist propaganda" and Hopkinson was forced to resign.

Ted Castle took over as editor but several journalists, including James Cameron, Lionel Birch and A. L. Lloyd, refused to continue working for the magazine.

When Tom Hopkinson left the Picture Post it was selling over 1,380,000 copies a week. By June 1952 it had fallen to 935,000. Sales continued to decline and by the time the magazine was closed in May 1957 circulation was less than 600,000 copies a week.

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