William Howard Russell and the Times

  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 03-04-13 16:21

William Howard Russell and the Times


  • The invention of the telegraph meant that information could travel much faster using Morse code to communicate messages.
  • William Howard Russell was very experienced at reporting suffering and conflict.
  • He was interested in the army, which meant he was genuinely passionate when writing and more likely to 'dig deeper' to find out more information
  • He was from a middle class family, meaning he was well educated
  • Russell got on well with the soldiers and commanders, meaning he could get hold of information easily
  • Russell knew how to use situations to his advantage; for example exploiting occasions when people were drunk to get information out of them
  • He was very successful at finding material and despatching articles quickly and efficiently, meaning that the news stories he was reporting were up to date.
  • He wrote about a variety of people e.g. soldiers, the Navy and sailors, giving an insight into all aspects of the war
  • He sent reports almost daily for two years
  • He spent two years in the Crimean war zone, meaning he was an eyewitness, and therefore he knew what he was writing about.


  • He wanted conditions for soldiers to improve, so he exaggerated aspects to shock people at home, which would have in turn made the government feel pressured into making positive changes.
  • He was sent by the Times - the editor, John Delane, had a political motive to try and embarrass Lord Raglan - Russell would have been told to make the conditions seem as bad as possible in oorder to make Lord Raglan look bad.
  • It's common knowledge that he had assistants to help him get information from others, so it may be unreliable
  • Although he was there for two years, he spent the first winter in an expensive hotel in Constantinople, so any reports from that time weren't originally by him


Russell's articles reached many people, as the Times increased circulation from 5000 in Napoleonic wars to 40,000 in the 1850s, and the increased use of railways meant that newspapers were distributed to and from cities all across the UK. Steamships carried reports from journalists based in the Crimea back to Britain in 2/3 weeks, which, for the time, was extremely fast, meaning that news was relevant and usually fairly up to date. Overall, Russell's reports and the Times' campaign created pressure to reform the officer class and organisation of the army; after the Crimean War, reforms in these areas were made. It also created a political crisis which demonstrated the power of the press and public opinion. 


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