THE ATOM BOMB

In 1945, The United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, targeting the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in a move that is largely credited with ending World War II. The extremity of the move and the destruction it caused, as well as its long-term effects on both the people and environment of the cities, drew much debate and commentary at the time and for years after.  The Picture Post followed the debate, posing many questions and arguments on both the bombing, its legacy, and the future of nuclear warfare. Among the coverage, this guide has selected examples which include coverage the event when it happened, like many stunned by the “imagined cataclysm” becoming a stark reality. In the same issue they already examined the potential impact in wider terms, asking the question of what will happen if humanity fails to control the use of nuclear warfare in the future. A year after the bombs dropped, they visited Japan to report on the rebuilding of the cities, and analysing the progress made in the aftermath of the events.

 

“An Imagined Cataclysm Becomes Fact.” Picture Post, 25 Aug. 1945

“What the Atom Bomb Means if Mankind Should now Fail to Control its Use.” Picture Post, 25 Aug. 1945

“After the Atom Bomb: An Astonishing Rebirth.” Picture Post, 24 Aug. 1946

“The Great Atom Row.” Picture Post, 11 Dec. 1948

 

CONCENTRATION CAMPS

One of the biggest ethical dilemmas in photojournalism is whether certain topics should or should not be covered, and ultimately put in front of the public. While the utilitarian argument says that challenging and shocking stories should be published and circulated for the good of the wider public, there are legitimate counterarguments that people and places are entitled to their privacy and should have a choice in whether they are exposed to the world. When it came to important stories, often the Picture Post appeared to come down on the side of the benefit to the wider public. There was no event during the run of the Picture Post that exemplified this better than the coverage of newly liberated concentration camps after World War II. It provided some of the most brutal—but honest—coverage, with some harrowing photographs that really brought home the horrors of these camps, and the people contained within them.


WARNING: Some of the images in these samples may be distressing. Viewer discretion is advised.

 

“The 8th Army Breaks Open a Concentration Camp in Italy.” Picture Post, 23 Oct. 1943

Chisholm, Martin. “Modern Prison: A Great Experiment.” Picture Post, 5 Aug. 1944

“Whose Guilt? The Problem of Cruelty.” Picture Post, 16 June 1945

“Victim and Prisoner.” Picture Post, 22 Sept. 1945

 

JAZZ

One of the Picture Post’s main remits was to cover the world of the reader, and they offered coverage of many social and cultural developments that impacted the interests, pastimes and leisure pursuits of the general public. As a magazine acutely aware of the changing tastes of culture at the time, the magazine covered one of the most eclectic musical developments of the era: the emergence of jazz. The coverage was transatlantic, exploring the growth of jazz in Britain as well as its origins and growing acceptance in the unites States. This guide has selected some articles that show the diversity of content on this musical phenomenon, and how the magazine considered the genre’s reception among its transatlantic audiences. As jazz grew in popularity, the Picture Post examined its origins, and examined America’s ‘rediscovery’ of jazz in the 1950s, and considering the differences between British and American attitudes toward the genre, and the reception of prominent American jazz musicians – most notably Louis Armstrong (1901-1971).

 

“The Bands Begin Again.” Picture Post, 7 Oct. 1939

Allsop, Kenneth. “How Jazz was Born.” Picture Post, 10 Oct. 1953

“America Discovers Jazz!” Picture Post, 6 Nov. 1954

Magee, Haywood. “Satchmo Blows in.” Picture Post, 19 May 1956

 

THE KOREAN WAR

The Korean war between North and South Korea ran from 1950 to 1953, following the North’s invasion of the South. UN intervention managed to prevent defeat for the South in the early stages of the conflict, before it turned into a war of attrition until armistice was declared in July 1953. The Picture Post was at the forefront of the coverage, which became highly regarded and stands out as one of the great highlights of the Picture Post’s run. The coverage tended to focus on the human side of the conflict, and the now infamous photograph of the Korean prisoners. The coverage was so divisive it led to major change at the Picture Post: the editor Tom Hopkinson (1905-1990) was dismissed after the article was published due to disagreements with the owner, Edward Hulton (1906-1988). Despite the focus on the human element, the Picture Post did not shy away from the political side: debate over the war was given a place, echoing the public’s question: “is it worthwhile?”

 

“War in Korea.” Picture Post, 29 July 1950

“We Follow the Road to Hell.” Picture Post, 16 Sept. 1950

Hardy, Bert. “The Men who Didn’t Get Shot.” Picture Post, 30 Sept. 1950

Mangeot, Sylvain, and Cyril Ramsay Jones. “Korea: Is It worth while?” Picture Post, 21 June 1952

 

THE WORLD AT HOME

The Picture Post was famous for bringing the world to the average Briton. During the Picture Post’s run, international travel was still too expensive for the majority of readers, pre-dating the emergence of affordable international flights. As a result, magazines like the Picture Post provided many people in Britain with their window to the wider world, providing stories and images from parts of the world beyond the aspirations of the average reader. There are many examples of stories from parts of the world many Britons would never visit themselves. Articles on daily life in Shanghai would be complemented with explorations of the lives of school children in India; life in African communities would could not be a more different story from coverage of elections in Argentina. 

 

“Nomads of the Sudan.” Picture Post, 25 Feb. 1939

“Life in Shanghai.” Picture Post, 11 Mar. 1939

“Schoolboys of India.” Picture Post, 29 Apr. 1939

Llyod, A. L. “Argentina Votes Itself a Dictator.” Picture Post, 27 Apr. 1946

 

DISCLAIMER

Any views and opinions expressed in the articles selected are those of the author in question, and any views or opinions from the original source material are those of the publication in question. Gale, a Cengage Company, provide facsimile reproductions of original sources, and do not endorse or dispute the content contained in them.

Any content, unless otherwise stated, are © Gale, a Cengage Company. Further reproduction of this content is prohibited. Any errors are those of the author.