Part one “The camera never lies”
The first British daily newspaper to achieve mass circulation was the Daily Mail, which appeared in 1896, owned by Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe). In 1908 Harmsworth also bought The Times, which was seen as the mouthpiece of the British governing class.
By 1914, his newspapers accounted for about half the total daily sales in London alone. This introduced the era of the 'press baron' in British politics, including Sir Max Aitkin (later Lord Beaverbrook), owner of the Daily Express. Most adults in Britain had access to some form of a national or local newspaper. That said, it is important to understand that this was the period that gave us the phase “The camera never lies”. First quoted in an Ohio newspaper “He looked up from the proof at me and said: 'Good Lord! Do I look like that?' 'The camera doesn't lie about such things', I replied”. (The Sandusky Register, February 1895)
Today we might argue that we are more media sophisticated, however evidence would indicate this was not the case in the early 1900s; when the above quote was made it would have been considered by many to be correct. An example of this belief is the 1917 Cottingley Fairies photographs, which were widely believed to be genuine evidence of the existence of fairies at the bottom of a garden, when photographs taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths. Two young cousins, aged 9 and 16 were using Elsie’s father’s quarter plate camera to take some photographs in their garden. When processed by Elsie (who had been trained in the use of the darkroom by her amateur photographer father) the photographs appeared to show Frances playing with a group of fairies. After the photographs were made public, the photographer, and photographic retouching expert Harold Snelling was asked to examine them by the girl’s parents. He declared the photos were "genuine and not fake photographs”; he concluded “they are of a single exposure, with no trace of studio work involving card or paper models, dark backgrounds, painted figures, etc." With this stamp of approval, the fairy images soon came to the attention of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a confirmed believer in spiritualism, (and a key contributor of published British war propaganda). He was convinced that the images were conclusive photographic proof of the existence of fairies.