International News Distribution and the Wilde Trials

Colette Colligan
Simon Fraser University

Jonathan Silberstein-Loeb’s recent book on *The International
Distribution of the News* (2014) has shown how news was gathered and
distributed internationally in the nineteenth century via news
agencies and news-sharing agreements. This paper will extend this
research on the international distribution of the news by focusing on
its diverse textual make-up. In Lucy Brown’s Victorian News and
Newspapers (1985), she reminds us that nineteenth-century news was a
patchwork of recycled text; this patchwork of text, I contend, can
reveal uncharted news networks and news-sharing practices, on national
and international scales.

The focus of this analysis will be the international news coverage of
the famous 1895 trials of anglo-Irish writer Oscar Wilde. Although
press coverage in England, Ireland, France, and Germany has been
examined (see Cohen; Ivory; Walshe; Wan, Erber), until now there has
not been a comparative textual analysis of the coverage in the
international English press. By means of computer-assisted text
comparison, this project will help advance scholarly understanding of
the international English-language coverage of the Wilde trials, and,
more precisely, the ways this news circulated in English-speaking
corners of the world, both within and outside the global media cartels
that structured international news distribution in the later
nineteenth century. I will draw from newspapers from Britain, North
America, as well as English-language expatriate papers in countries
such as France, in order to help us understand, for the first time,
how reporting on the trials was shaped by national and international
news markets and how the expatriate press played a distinctive role in
bringing information across borders.

Newspapers and Periodicals in Britain and Ireland from 1800 to 1900