Protests against commercialisation of Captain Scott's tale

An improvised grandstand at the picnic race meeting at the Chatham Island racecourse. -  Otago...
An improvised grandstand at the picnic race meeting at the Chatham Island racecourse. - Otago Witness, 12.2.1913. Copies of picture available from ODT front office, Lower Stuart St, or

It is easy to sympathise with the protest that has been entered by the Sydney Daily Telegraph and by some of our contemporaries in this dominion against the ''commercialising'' of the news of the terrible fate of Captain Scott and his companions in the Antarctic and yet to appreciate the view which those in authority among the survivors of the expedition took of their obligations.

They conceived that it was incumbent on them to honour in the very fullest measure the contract which their dead leader had entered into with the Central News Agency in England. It was one of the terms of this contract that no intelligence respecting the expedition should be disclosed in New Zealand until the purchaser of the story of the expedition should have had the opportunity of publication in the Mother Country.

Obviously, in these days when distance has been annihilated by the use that is made of the cable, the value of the rights that were acquired by the Central News Agency would have been greatly impaired by a disclosure in this dominion on Monday last of the tragic news which was brought back by the Terra Nova. The effect would indeed have been to vitiate the contract that was entered into before the departure of the expedition from England.

And, although the repeated refusal on the part of the officers who were landed at Oamaru to furnish any information respecting the expedition, may have deceived, and in fact did deceive, the public regarding the true state of affairs, the opinion expressed by the Daily Telegraph that their silence constituted an amazing error of judgment seems in all the circumstances to be unnecessarily harsh. Especially, is this the case when it is remembered that the delay of a day in the publication of the shocking news of the tragedy which occurred nearly twelve months ago made really no difference to the general public in Australasia.

But it was not the general public only that was affected by the secrecy which was observed on Monday. It might surely have been expected that the utmost consideration would be shown for the nearest and dearest of the heroic souls, over whose graves a lonely cairn now stands in the great waste of the Antarctic snows, and that the stolid silence of Monday last would have been so far relaxed that none of the bereaved would, after the endurance of a long period of heart-racking suspense, be encouraged to form glowing hopes that were entirely vain.

• Wellington trades unions are moving energetically in the direction of obtaining the Saturday half-holiday. At a meeting of the Housewives Union on Tuesday night members expressed their sympathy with the Saturday half-holiday movement, and all present undertook to collect signatures towards making the petition for a poll on the question an effective one. A joint committee of representatives of the Grocers' and Drapers' Unions was set up the same evening in furtherance of the same project.

Reports were received that many shopkeepers were signing the petition and that, generally speaking, the proposal for the weekend holiday was being much more favourably received than on the occasion of two years ago. It was decided to recommend the district council to call a general meeting of supporters of the Saturday proposal early next week, and to write to the various sports bodies asking their assistance towards a successful poll on the issue. - ODT, 13.2.1913.

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