W.T. Stead Lectures

headshot of James Harding (BBC)

James Harding (BBC) will delvier the first W.T. Stead Lecture on the 13 January 2014.

The W.T. Stead Lectures are a series of three lectures to be held at the British Library in 2014. Stead was a pioneering journalist who died on the Titanic just over a hundred years ago and it is in his spirit that we have invited our speakers to consider the role of the media today. The first lecture will be given by James Harding on Monday 13 January 2014, tickets are available from the British Library here. Subsequent lectures, by Emily Bell (ex-Guardian and now Director of the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism, Columbia University) and Professor Aled Jones (Chief Executive and Librarian of the National Library of Wales) will be given in April and November respectively, once the new news and media reading room has opened at the British Library.

cover of W.T. Stead Newspaper RevolutionaryThe lectures are funded from the proceeds of a conference, ‘W.T. Stead: Centenary Conference for a Newspaper Revolutionary’ held at the British Library in April 2012. Stead’s campaigning zeal and wide range of interests meant that he played a part in (or at least had something to say about) most of the defining issues of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century: the conference, taking place on the centenary of his death on the Titanic was an opportunity to reconsider his legacy. It resulted in two publications: a book, W.T. Stead: Newspaper Revolutionary (British Library, 2012) and a special issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century.

Stead was an agitator, a campaigner, and was fascinated by new technologies, always quick to recognize their potential. We were particularly keen to use the conference and publications to reflect on the changing role of the media in the present. The conference itself took place in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal in the UK, providing a dramatic context for discussions about a muck-raking journalist a century earlier. It was also an important moment for the British Library, taking place as it did on the eve of the closure of Colindale. There were fascinating panels on the law and the state of the newspaper archive, both of which used Stead to explore issues today. Equally, in the foreword to the book, Roy Greenslade considered whether Stead would have hacked phones, reflecting on the Levenson Enquiry then underway. The Stead Lectures, which are funded from the proceeds of the conference, allow us to continue this work while celebrating the opening of the new news and media reading room at the British Library. There are three lectures, and we hope to establish the W.T. Stead Lectures as an annual series into the future. They are:

  • James Harding, 13 January 2014. For tickets and further details, click here.
  • Emily Bell, 25 April 2014. Tickets and further details here
  • Aled Jones, 21 November 2014. For tickets and further details click here.

I’ll add further details when they become available. For more about the new news and media services at the BL, have a look at their new blog, The Newsroom.