This chapter looks closely at the work of parliamentary reporters at a time when reporting practices were unusually fluid and diverse. Questioning the conventional distinction between the inventiveness of the speaker on the floor and the drudgery of the reporter, who relied on memory alone, it argues that speakers and reporters employed a continuum of skills. Beginning with an examination of the methods used by eighteenth-century MPs who kept parliamentary diaries, the chapter examines the editorial conventions that shape a variety of printed reports, including newspapers, collections of debates, and speeches published in pamphlet form, and considers the different reading experiences these forms offered. The chapter asks what reliability meant in an eighteenth-century context, and what sort of fidelity to the rhetorical event reporters with different responsibilities and ambitions claimed for their work.
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