The Ashbourne Telegraph made a staunch defence to an accusation of profiteering which must have come to the paper’s owner’s ears following the decision to cut pagination from 8 to 6 pages each week, while retaining the 1d cover price.
“Apropos of the remark one often hears at the present time that newspaper proprietors must be making their fortunes,” he writes and reproduces a news item from a print trade journal, the Sales and Wants Advertiser, which states: “It is safe to say that no newspaper in the country is now being produced at a profit…. There is no profit in a war for newspapers.”
Clearly stung by the criticism the Telegraph makes its point at length: “As we have previously stated we have been reluctantly compelled to reduce the size of the Telegraph and temporarily suspend several of our usual features.”
The column explains that 90% of wood pulp used in the manufacture of newsprint came from the Baltic states and the remaining 10% from Canada, and that both sources were effectively cut off by the war.
“The present is a serious and anxious time for newspaper proprietors and most of the journals in the country are being produced at a loss.
“Under the existing circumstances we ask our readers to remain loyal to us and assist us to keep the flag flying.
“As in the past we shall give prominence to local adverts of interest and do our utmost to advance the welfare of our good old town.”
The paper’s war coverage which remains on page 5 included news that the Derbyshire relief fund had been boosted by £1,000 from the Duke of Devonshire.
In the spirit of allied collaboration the paper outlines the country’s ‘debt to Belgium’: “We know better nowadays than to say ‘The Belgians ran away at Waterloo’. We know that they stood manfully at our side.” Readers were urged to send funds for the relief of suffering in Belgium.
Reports from the front might have given false hope. Under the headline: Heavy German Losses it was reported: “Over 1,500 bodies found in a limited area after an allied offensive between Nancy and Vosge. A second headline: Russian Advance. Panic in Berlin preceded a report suggesting that Allied forces had pushed the Germans back into West Prussia. “The whole population are in flight before the great Russian avalanche.”
At home the Ashbourne Shire Horse Society announced that owing to the war the annual show, scheduled for September 24 had been abandoned.