A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



Among the publicity media used by Government Departments to keep the public informed about the war and the many now facts and arrangements that affect the lives of civilians, newspapers are of great importance. For this reason Campaigns Division of the Ministry of Information required to know more about the newspaper reading habits of the civilian population, how large a public was served by different newspapers and by newspapers of different types, and which particular sections of the public could best be approached through different channels. The Wartime Social Survey was therefore asked to undertake an inquiry into this subject.

The inquiry was carried out by interviewing a representative sample of the adult civilian population with a questionnaire.

A sample of 5,639 persons was selected, appropriate numbers of men and women being chosen from different regions, urban and rural areas, towns of different sizes, and from twelve broad occupation groups. The sample was designed so that the sections interviewed in each of the twelve Civil Defence regions were representative of those regions in so far as sex, occupation, size of town, and urban and rural areas were concerned. The composition of the sample is shown on page 43.

It should be emphasised that the inquiry was concerned only with civilians, and therefore the proportions of the population buying newspapers are not comparable with circulation figures which embrace the whole population including the Forces.

Informants were asked about morning and evening newspapers, Sunday newspapers and local weeklies and bi-weeklies. These four types of newspaper are dealt with in Sections I to IV in this report. A general summary of the results is given below. The questionnaire is given on page 41 and 42.

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