"Centralization" is one of those modern catch-words which drive men mad. It has indeed become more than a word, for as a fact it has spread everywhere. In journalism, however, one still looks for individualism and unhampered expression of opinion. Such fond fancies received a rude shock in England recently by the sale of the Hulton newspapers. These, numbering seven in all and published in London and Manchester, passed into the hands of Lord Rothermere and Lord Beaverbrook. The former is a brother of the late Lord Northcliffe and is said to have been mainly responsible for the latter's success. By the purchase he has now doubled the power of his more famous brother. The second, a self made Canadian, has, since the war, become a well known figure in the newspaper world. The balance of newspaper power has apparently gone askew and some English papers feel that this concentration constitutes a grave danger to freedom of thought in the press.
Formerly, the journalistic supermen were the editors. Men like Horace Greely or, in our own day, George Harvey, attained national and international repute. Their opinions were usually honest and unbiased by self-interest. Newspaper rivalry forced each paper to attempt to reach as many classes as possible. Under the monopoly conditions of the present, however, great owners like Hearst or Northcliffe shape the opinions of several papers. Each of this string concentrates on a one-class appeal. The owners have often earned a fortune in some other field and have taken up journalism as a hobby or to advance their commercial interests. The inevitable result is the their views, already narrowed to move one class, are most always prejudiced by personal rather than national interests. Such power becomes greater than that of King and Parliament or of President and Congress. For a while, in the hands of a public spirited man like Lord Northcliffe or Major Astor, the owner of the London Times, it may have no ill effects. But in an evil moment it may fall into the grasp of some one who will use it only for his personal benefit.