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How "Psychic News" Began

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How "Psychic News" Began Empty How "Psychic News" Began

Post by zerdini Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:56 pm


by Maurice Barbanell

BECAUSE of three "dead" men you are reading these words. Two of them belong to that much-misunderstood race, the North American Indians. The other is Lord Northcliffe, the creator of the "Daily Mail" and the founder of modern, popular journalism.

These three men were responsible for the advent of Psychic News seven years ago. Behind the founding of this paper there is a remarkable story of spirit planning and guidance. It came into existence as part of a campaign, which originated in the spirit world.

Even the name Psychic News was chosen by the Other Side. After I decided to use it I was told of a séance at which W. T. Stead spoke in the direct voice, informing the sitters that a new paper called Psychic News was shortly to be launched. That was months before the first issue.

I had been chosen to be the Editor, though when Psychic News began I had no practical knowledge of journalism. Theoretically I knew from Hannen Swaffer something about how newspapers are produced. Our friendship began shortly after his inquiry into Spiritualism when he set out to prove Northcliffe's survival.

For three years Swaffer and I conducted a propaganda tour and addressed a quarter of a million people - a record that has never been equalled. We spoke in nearly every large town in this country.

Once we addressed three meetings on one Sunday. We spoke at Maesteg in the morning, Merthyr Tydfil in the afternoon and Cardiff in the evening. Then we motored back to London, arriving home after four in the morning. And I had motored down to South Wales on the Saturday afternoon and spoke at a meeting at Caerau that night.
In those three years, sitting up half the night talking, in conversations on trains, in cars and hotels, I learned a great deal about journalism from Swaffer.

My days, however, were spent in the world of commerce. I held some directorships, had my own business and owned some properties. I was fairly prosperous for many years. Then came a series of misfortunes, culminating in the slump of 1931, when things were very black. I was compelled to sell nearly everything I possessed.
I had to wind up my own business and my income came from one directorship, but as that meant attendance at a board meeting for a few hours once a month I was virtually unemployed.

Just about that time Swaffer and I were approached to give editorial assistance to a proposed psychic weekly. Nothing, however, came of it. The scheme petered out.
One day, to my surprise, Swaffer's business manager, J. M. Rubens, a non-Spiritualist who was winding up one of my companies, suggested I should start a psychic paper.
He is well-known in Fleet Street and he thought there was a need for a Spiritualist paper on modern journalistic lines. He even offered to put up some capital though he was not convinced of our truths.

When he made this startling suggestion I recalled a séance with Alfred Vout Peters at which his guide said - and I am quoting from my notes made at the time-"W. T. Stead is interested in you. You have a journalistic urge in your fingers. Cultivate your writing powers. Later on you are going to do writing work. I see association with Hannen Swaffer. You will contribute to the newspapers. Try to make your writing short and crisp."


That was more than eight years ago, at a time when I could see no possibility of the prediction being fulfilled.

I remembered, too, that Red Cloud, speaking through Estelle Roberts a month before Rubens threw out the suggestion, had said to me when discussing my troubles, "We have plenty for you to do. Our plans are already made. They only have to materialise in your world. You are going forward to do a bigger work."

On the day that I saw Rubens I had later on a private sitting with Red Cloud. He surprised me by referring to Rubens's proposal. This was the work I had been chosen to do, he said, and if I would start the new paper, he and others in the spirit world would give it their whole-hearted support. I argued with Red Cloud, but it was all in vain.

I pointed out that I was a businessman, not a journalist. Surely I was not the person for the job. In any case it was a vital decision to make - to abandon my idea of a commercial career for psychic journalism at the age of 30. I wanted time to consider it.

My commercial and financial troubles, this guide insisted, were all part of the plan. I was to sever my business ties and learn to be dependent on spirit guidance.

I knew I was being asked to make the biggest decision of my life. Though I had confidence in Red Cloud, a guide who had proved his ability and had earned my respect, I decided that on so important a matter I required confirmation.


I searched for a medium to whom I was unknown. I had been a public speaker for Spiritualism for twelve years and knew most of them. At last I found the medium I wanted - Kathleen Barkel. We had never met and at that time she had done hardly any public work, confining her mediumship to giving private séances.

Usually you had to wait months to get a sitting with her, but when I inquired, someone had just cancelled an appointment, and she was able to see me within a few days. I went anonymously and it was obvious she did not know me.

I waited eagerly for her guide, White Hawk, to control, wondering; if I would obtain the confirmation I desired. The ground was already prepared for my work, he said, which was connected with Spiritualism. I would start these activities in two months. His prophecy was accurate, for Psychic News made its appearance two months later.


Then came a remark which proved how closely associated are these spirit guides. “You know Red Cloud," he said. Then he added that the proposal in which I was interested had already been outlined to me by Red Cloud. "Everything is prepared," he said. "All is arranged as far as we are concerned. It has only to work out in the material world. You must accept that proposal."

Now this was almost word for word what Red Cloud had said. To obtain closer contact the guide then asked me to hand him any article that belonged to me. I gave him my fountain pen. As I placed it in the medium's hands it began to leak, something it had never done before.

"That is Northcliffe's fault," declared the spirit. "He is here and says he always upsets pens" - an ingenious reference to the famous newspaper proprietor's vigorous journalistic activities. "He comes in connection with the newspaper," added the guide, "and he says, 'Go ahead with it."'

Then he told me that Northcliffe was dissatisfied with psychic journalism as then presented. Northcliffe's words, as relayed by Mrs. Barkel's guide, were. "It's about time something was done with common sense - too much sickly sentiment - there is opportunity for great growth and much spread of knowledge - he is amazed at the lack of guts. Get it on a strong basis and it will be of world-wide consequence."

Well, I had obtained the confirmation I wanted. The medium could not have known what I was after. I made the fateful decision to become the editor of a Spiritualist newspaper. The sequel was extraordinary.

A few days later I went down to Estelle Roberts's home to talk to Red Cloud. I said nothing about my visit to Kathleen Barkel. The first words spoken by Red Cloud, when he entranced his medium, were, “Are you satisfied now that you have been to my brother White Hawk?" Red Cloud knew.

I asked him whether he objected to my going, but he said he understood how I felt. There and then Red Cloud, speaking on behalf of others whom he said were present -and he referred to Northcliffe and Stead among others - outlined the policy of Psychic News.

It had to be bright. I was told. It had to be fearless. It had to "Stand for the truth and fear no man." The one thing impressed upon me was to print the evidence for Survival. And Red Cloud promised to provide these proofs.

I would like to place on record that for seven years he has kept his promise and has been responsible for enabling us to print accounts of the spirit return of famous men and women that have aroused world-wide interest.


Well, Psychic News was launched. Actually, its first number was issued a week earlier than originally planned because of the Meurig Morris - "Daily Mail" lawsuit, which was the subject of comment in newspapers all over the land. It gave us an opportunity for an outstanding front page.

"I CHALLENGE THE `DAILY MAIL," it was headed, and it was written by Hannen Swaffer. Yes, the very first issue of Psychic News began with a challenging note on its front page!

I must tell you how Psychic News was financed. Actually the paper was started on the ridiculously small capital of just over £600 - half subscribed by Rubens and the other half by myself, which I borrowed from a friend. And Rubens, the non-Spiritualist, guaranteed the bank and other accounts and gave personal references where necessary!


When I pointed out to Red Cloud, "It is all very well to talk about a new paper, but where is the money coming from'?" he replied, "Do not worry; we will attend to that." And they did!

When planning the first issue I had an idea for an article. It was to get Arthur Findlay, author of "On The Edge Of The Etheric," Spiritualism's best-seller, to say in Psychic News why he wrote the book. Findlay called in to see me and we discussed the article, which he agreed to write.

That night I had another séance with Red Cloud. To my surprise the spirit guide volunteered, "The man who is to finance `Psychic News' has called to see you today. His name is Findlay. Approach him on the subject."

I discussed this question with Arthur Findlay and he readily agreed. Again I should like to put on record that in seven years of close co-operation there has never been an angry word between us; neither has there been any disagreement on policy.
We agreed from the start that Psychic News had to be run on commercial lines, and its success, or failure, judged by commercial standards.

For three years the paper lost money; but Findlay never complained. Indeed, he found whatever sum was necessary. The corner was turned with the fourth year and ever since Psychic News has paid its way.

The two libel actions we had to defend this year may break our record, but they are only chapters in the history of a newspaper.

I shall not tell of my troubles in producing the first number. I did not leave the printers on press night until three in the morning. It was a nightmare.

The first issue was received with mixed feelings. A few weeks before the paper appeared it was the subject of violent comment, some declaring, “Another Spiritualist weekly is not necessary," others being eager to see what we would produce.


One Spiritualist editor, whom I shall not name, wrote me a most discouraging letter. He had heard of my proposed journalistic ventures, he said, and added, "Frankly I am sorry that you find it necessary to change from business to journalism."

The reception given to Psychic News, on the whole, was very enthusiastic. There were, of course, those who exclaimed, "It is too sensational," "It cannot last a week." But they were in the minority.

From the first number we had the largest circulation of any Spiritualist newspaper in the world, a position we have since proudly maintained. Today, our net paid circulation, which is approaching 25,000, exceeds the combined circulation of all English Spiritualist journals.

Psychic News broke new ground. Though it was not subsidised it was, and still is, the only English Spiritualist weekly to pay its way - and to make a profit.


It reached the man-in-the-street. Here was a modern newspaper, with news on the front page, boldly proclaiming the facts of Spiritualism. It was independent, for it belonged to no section, group or Spiritualist society. Soon, our familiar green and white posters were to be seen in many of London's main thoroughfares.

Our Spiritualist contemporaries paid us the compliment of imitation. They changed their make-up and modelled themselves, more or less, on the format of Psychic News.
From the first number Psychic News adopted a bold policy. Because it was independent, it could criticise Spiritualists and the weaknesses of the movement.

It helped to change the Press attitude towards our truths and forced newspapers to realise that the evidences for Survival were as newsworthy as any other events recorded in their pages.

We are proud of the part we have played in giving comfort, hope and knowledge to thousands.

Looking back on our seven years of history, there is nothing that we regret.

Still, trusting to that spirit guidance which conceived this newspaper, we face the future unafraid, knowing that Psychic News can help to give the vital blow to the materialism, which is the cancer of our modern civilisation.


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How "Psychic News" Began Empty Re: How "Psychic News" Began

Post by Admin Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:35 am

For Interest the source of Z's post was an article written by Barbanell and published on the front and second page of P.N., May 20th 1939.

You can also find this in Psypioneer Volume 3, No 10; October 2007

This has interesting reference footnotes and links to other articles on Maurice Barbanell.

Once again I draw attention to Psypioneer's meticulous research and dedication to retain and correct errors in our History.

It has always been essential reading and in the absence of PN its web presence and the fact it is a free publication just restates its importance.

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How "Psychic News" Began Empty Re: How "Psychic News" Began

Post by zerdini Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:45 pm

Once again I draw attention to Psypioneer's meticulous research and dedication to retain and correct errors in our History.

It has always been essential reading and in the absence of PN its web presence and the fact it is a free publication just restates its importance.

As Leslie Price (founder of Psypioneer) states on another forum: "Most of the material, including some of the GH series, is from Spiritualist publications, including what Maurice Barbanell edited. "


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