Source 4 comes from a report on press censorship by Lord Stanley, who served as a chief military censor published in 1900 to raise awareness of the censorship issue in the press during the Boer war. As this role was given to a man holding such high status and position, it shows the high profile nature of the issue at this time. However, due to his position as a chief military censor the reliability of the source could be questioned as it would be unlikely he would write about censorship or the behaviour of war correspondents in a negative light as it would reflect badly upon him, making it seem like he was unfit for the position. This can be seen ‘the last thought the correspondents have is in any way to go against military regulations’, showing that the military censors were in full control of the situation. Although, correspondents may have chose not to publish ‘anything detrimental’ due to more informal relationships between themselves and military commanders rather than censorship. This may also be why Lord Stanley showed the correspondents is a positive light too ‘the idea of the vast majority of war correspondents is to conform to every reasonable restriction’, as he didn’t wish to be harsh on men he had become friends with. Also, many of the commanding officers were also correspondents themselves such as Winston Churchill or Lord Rosslyn both sent by the Daily Mail. Censors often wouldn’t interfere with reports they had chosen to send back as due to their position their judgment was trusted. This again was often based on personal relationships as Churchill in particular was known to get on better with Buller earning him more leniency, when compared to when Roberts was sent. Lord Stanley’s report was published in July 1900, despite the fact he was only sent out to South Africa in late 1899. Meaning his report was only based on his observations over a period of 6 months, showing despite his position his views may not represent the entire issue due to a lack of knowledge and experience in South Africa. This contrasts to both source 5 and 6, as they were published each around 100 years later and would have been able to examine the issue in more people and draw a more reliable conclusion. Overall, from this source it is hard to determine whether military censorship was the main factor however it does show that it play a significant part in the matter.
Source 6 which is from Philip Taylor, ‘Munitions of the Mind’ published in 1995 portrays a viewpoint in sharp contrast to the ones seen in source 5 and 6. As it clearly states that the impact of the censorship on the press was ‘relatively small’, which doesn’t align with the view in source 5 that censorship is why the impact was limited. Taylor states that ‘popular press became increasingly jingoistic’, meaning that populist papers must have only taken this approach as it was shared by the majority of the British public. Especially as Lord Northcliffe founded the Daily Mail as the ‘first mass circulation daily’, he would be more inclined to use controversy and spice up stories to make a profit and gain interest in the paper, instead patriotic nature shows that censorship wasn’t the reason ‘bad news’ didn’t make the press it was more due to the public distaste for it. The impression source 6 gives is that the British public preferred remaining ‘distant’ to the horrors of war and favored censorship a sit kept their morale high ‘enjoyed their war through music hall songs’. This impression isn’t shared by source 5 regardless of the fact they were both published nearly a century after the war. This lack of a universal conclusion on the truth shows how even today it is a complex issue that hasn’t been decided.
In conclusion, whilst it appears that the military censorship that was undoubtedly present in the Boer war as it has been in nearly every war since played a significant role in the lack of ‘bad news’ reported by the press it can’t be seen to be the main factor. As informal relationships played an important part in what was reported back to Britain, alongside the public’s aversion to having ‘bad news’ published in mainstream newspaper as the was ‘physically distant’ this lack of knowledge allowed it to also remain mentally distant to them.