Journalism tutors deliver WW1 lecture as part of DMUlocal launch

War research: from left are David Penman, John Dilley, Dr David Clarke and Professor John Young
War research: from left are David Penman, John Dilley, Dr David Clarke and Professor John Young

Two Journalism lecturers who are conducting a four-year WW1 research project have played a key role in the launch of DMUlocal.

Programme leader John Dilley and senior lecturer David Penman delivered a lecture at The Venue – with the help of first year Single Honours journalism student Simon Sansome.

The event on November 11 – particularly poignant as it was Armistice Day – also included a lecture by Dr David Clarke from Sheffield Hallam University as well as an Immersive Electroacoustic Music performance created by DMU’s Professor of Composition, John Young.

John said: “We were proud our lecture was part of the DMUlocal launch and the accompanying Research Festival, and we are particularly grateful to Simon, who spoke the words of the Frontline soldiers which have formed a major part of our primary research methodology.”

John and David’s project shows how local newspapers maneuvered round Lord Kitchener’s draconian press censorship laws and produced articles that rivaled the war poets for powerful imagery.

They are focusing their attention on two market town weekly titles which have been published in their respective communities for well over 100 years.

Each week they are blogging extracts in real-time from Leicestershire’s Market Harborough Advertiser and the Ashbourne Telegraph in Derbyshire and are being followed and published by the present-day newspapers too. They are also comparing and contrasting the coverage from national newspapers and current-day academics.

John added: “Millions of words have been written about the First World War but it’s fascinating seeing how the first-time chroniclers of history – the journalists – covered the conflict.

“What’s even more interesting is the way the national papers were shackled by Kitchener and his infamous Press Bureau – commonly referred to as the Suppress Bureau – which meant both soldiers and their families back home knew they were being peddled a lot of spin.”

David said: “Local paper editors got round the hogwash by using the remarkably honest – and graphic – accounts of life at the front written by soldiers in letters home to their market town families.

“There was certainly no shortage of material – around 12 million letters were sent home every week – and the readers truly believed the accounts because they either knew the soldier or knew of his family.”

John’s weekly blog can be found at

and David’s weekly blog can be found at