It is, as we know, the habit of promoters, when they bring out new companies, to go round to the editors of financial papers and ask them to speak a good word for their companies. There are many financial papers which are only too ready and willing to do this. And promoters are more likely to make these offers when the companies are worthless than when they are valuable, for the latter will carry their own recommendation. And promoters are blackmailed into giving prospectus advertisements to these disreputable rags, for. if they refuse they must expect to see the prospectuses adversely criticised, and free copies of them sent broadcast to mining shareholders. This is more especially the case at the time of a boom. We know that at such times dozens of new papers make their appearance merely that they might get all the prospectus advertisements they can, and intend to exist only as long as the boom lasts. I solemnly warn speculators and investors to have nothing to do with papers of this kind. They are started by rogues and vagabonds, thieves and blackmailers, the very scum of the city of London, whilst others are run by promoters themselves in the interests of their own wares, others by bucket-shop-keepers, and others by bankrupt advertising agents. If they do buy them, and are influenced by what they read in them, they will pay the penalty, and the penalty will be no light one. Those who read my warning, and do not act upon it, will only have their own folly to blame. As soon as the war is over these rags will appear by the dozen, and therefore they should be prepared to resist their blandishments, or else they will succumb to them at their peril.

But, as I have said in a previous chapter, all editors, even of the most reputable papers, have to face the most alluring temptations, and many are unable to resist them. How, therefore, is the ordinary man to know which editor has fallen and which has not? In the most influential paper he may read a laudatory article upon some mining company, and yet that article may have been written for a price, just as any puffing paragraph in a Sunday newspaper. Should time prove that editor's opinion to be false, then, of course, it will be only his judgment that was at fault, and not his morals. Therefore, in the first place, we've got to risk his competence to express an opinion and to guide us, and in the second place we've got to risk his morality. The ordinary man, we have seen, cannot do without the press. He has to rely upon the press for his information, and also for advice, when he can get it, and then he has to risk whether that advice is disinterested or not.

Therefore the honesty of the financial press is an essential to successful speculation and investment.

It cannot guarantee success, of course, because it cannot do miracles. But its experience and knowledge can be of invaluable help to the inexperienced and ignorant. The experience and the knowledge may not be lacking in some cases, but if it be used in the service of unscrupulous promoters and others, if it can be bought by rogues and thieves, then it is harmful to those who place their faith in it. On the other hand, we may have the honesty but not the experience and knowledge. Which is the more harmful of the two is a matter of Opinion. We must, therefore, search for the honest paper, and hope that our search will be successful.