Saturday, August 30, 2014

Standard Oil and its Hirelings of the Press

Standard Oil and its Hirelings of the Press

WERE it not for the newspaper press and periodicals of the Hearst's Magazine sort, interests like Mr. Archbold and Standard Oil long ago would have stolen everything to the public back fence. As matters stand, their villain pillage has hardly stopped short of it. Also, it wasn't the law, but the printing press which halted them. The press is the policeman of popular right. President Wilson, observing - and also fearing - the pernicious Criminal Privilege activities of certain subsidized newspapers, in the war over tariff schedules now being fought out in the Senate, was driven only the other day to issue his White House warning to mankind. Said Mr. Wilson:

Washington has seldom seen so numerous, so industrious, or so insidious a lobby. The newspapers are being filled with paid advertisements calculated lo mislead the judgment of public men not only, but also the public opinion of the country itself. There is every evidence that money without limit is being spent to sustain this lobby, and to create an appearance of a pressure of public opinion antagonistic lo some of the chief items of the Tariff bill.

If this be not enough, consider what has been accomplished by the publication of the Archbold letters. Mr. Hearst began reading them, and his newspapers and magazines began printing them, in October, 1908. In less than five years, by their sheer effect, such Archbold-Standard Oil "statesmen," as Mr. Foraker, Mr. Bailey, Mr. Lorimer, Mr. McLaurin, Mr. Grosvenor, and Mr. Sibley have been driven from their high political places. They no longer cumber and disgrace the House and Senate earth. They no longer figure in affairs of importance.

What papers and magazines yielded to Mr. Archbold's enrollment, and accepted his bounty, repaid that little intriguing Standard Oiler in more fashions than one. Be sure that Standard Oil has received a full return for what thousands Mr. Archbold paid such publications as the Pittsburgh Times, the Southern Farm Magazine, the Manufacturers' Record, and Gunton's Magazine.

While not appointed to hunt papers, but only congressmen, even Setter-dog Sibley became impressed by the Standard Oil propriety of getting a greasy hold on the press.

Says Setter-dog Sibley:

Joseph C. Sibley, Chairman.

Committee on Manufactures.

House of Representatives, U. S.

Washington, March 7th, 1905.

My dear Mr. A.

The illness of Mrs. Sibley has prevented my coming to N. Y. Senator B. was to have gone over with me. I think he will go anyway as he has business there. I had a conversation with an important "official" yesterday and he told me there was but one thing to do and that was to start a "back fire." Like myself, he is much alarmed and as an official of the reigning family his hand and tongue are tied.

He thinks the work should be done in the education of public sentiment between now and the meeting of Congress in Oct. It has I think been decided to convene Cong in Ex Session at that Time though The Speaker will try and have it go over until Nov. if he can't do better. I will know in a day or two how he succeeds; Long (Senator) and Curtis (Rep) are the strong men in the Kansas delegation. I have explained matters to them and I think their influence will count some when they go home. Campbell is a clever boy, has no strong points on place yet developed, he seeks notoriety, but is harmless in himself. This agitation in the language of another "started from the top," and will run its course, it is not a deep seated and profound conviction of wrong.

The one thing is to get delay until temperate action can be secured, we will recover from Lawsonitis if we get pure air for a while.

I think the pendulum will swing to the other side after a while but I don't want the devil to pay before it gets back. An efficient Literary Bureau is needed, not for a day, or a crisis, but a permanent and healthy control of Associated Press and kindred avenues. It will cost money but will be the cheapest in the end and can be made self-supporting. The next four years is more than any previous epoch to determine the future of this Country. No man values public opinion or fears it so much as Roosevelt. No man seeks popularity as much as he. Mild reproof or criticisms of his policies would nearly paralyze him. To-day he hears only the chorus of a rabble, and he thinks it is public sentiment. I don't know whether the Industrial Corporations and the Transportation Co's have enough at stake to justify a union of forces for concerted action. It seems to me necessary. I am in position where I see both sides of the game and still think our friends play politics once in four years while the other side play it all the time.

Sincerely yours,


(See pages 30, 31 for fac-similes of two pages of this letter.)

As you read recall the warning of President Wilson - other Sibleys of the House and Senate are writing other letters to "my dear Mr. A." of 26 Broadway, telling of the comings in and goings out of other "Senator B's" and relating their "conversation with an important official," and urging the Criminal Privilege propriety of "a back-fire."

Five years ago, at the startling time when Mr. Hearst began reading and printing the Archbold letters, the people's cry of indignation was everywhere raised. The cry was echoed by such honest ones among the editors - all unbought and unbribed of Mr. Archbold and Standard Oil - as Colonel Watterson. From stump, from pulpit, from press, from people, came condemnation of the slimy Mr. Archbold for his Standard Oil crimes. And yet, with all that good, honest condemnatory example before them, what single syllable of denunciation was heard to emanate from a Duke or a Morgan or a Vanderbilt or a Schwab or a Stillman or a Carnegie or a Havemeyer?

Steel, sugar, tobacco, coal, every trust on the black-flag list, had been and was buying Senators and House men, judges, and governors, as industriously as were Mr. Archbold and Standard Oil. The only difference between them and Mr. Archbold was that no one had come forward thus far with their letters. They had not been found out. Wherefore, equal in selfish interest as equal in their works, our thousand and one expositors of Special Privilege - the Vanderbilts, the Morgans, the Carnegies, the Stillmans, the Dukes, the Schwabs, and the Havemeyers—maintained a masterly, not to say a polite silence, while Mr. Hearst uncovered the Archbold corruptions.

While making his investments in other than oil fields, Mr. Rockefeller and his co-workers in the vineyard of Criminal Privilege, in no wise rejected the ink-and-paper field. Standard Oil years ago set flowing a growing, broadening, deepening stream of gold into the channels of the monthly, weekly, and daily press. Some publications it bought outright; others it only bribed.

There was a personage of the Tribe of Highbrows whose title was Professor, and whose name was Gunton. He posed as an authority on political economy, which exalted Criminal Privilege, and counseled the poor to creep back into their cages. The better to preach these doctrines, in New York at 41 Union Square, Mr. Gunton evolved and printed Gunton's Magazine. Both Editor Gunton and Gunton's Magazine pleased Mr. Archbold.

As witness the following:

Sept. 28, 1899.

My dear Professor:

I have your very kind favor of yesterday with various enclosures for all of which I beg you to accept many thanks. I am greatly interested and much amused over the incident which you relate regarding Governor Roosevelt. Think he is doing splendidly. The recent speech of Senator Foraker in Ohio is also very good. I have no doubt you noticed it.

Very truly yours,

Jno. D. Archbold.

Prof. George Gunton,

41 Union Square, City.

And this Letter a month later:

[Oct ??? ]

My dear Professor:

Responding to your favor, it gives me pleasure to enclose you herewith certificate of deposit to your favor for $5,000., as an additional contribution to that agreed upon to aid you in your most excellent work. I most earnestly hope that the way will open for the large scope as you anticipate.

Very truly yours,

Jno. D. Archbold.

Prof. George Gunton,

41 Union Square, City.

(See top of this page for fac-simile.)

Evidently the "dear Professor" had been writing his "dear Mr. A." of some literary flight he meditated, and the latter little gentleman was only too eager to finance it - with Standard Oil money, of course. How familiarly that "certificate of deposit in your favor" breaks upon the eye! Five thousand dollars!

Later Miss Tarbell, eminent as a magazine writer, took occasion to show that the appreciative Mr. Archbold, for fifteen years, had been paying into the personal palms of Mr. Gunton an annual $15,000; and - all in the name of Standard Oil - had backed his magazine and rostrum efforts to the tune of 8250,000 more.

After an annual $15,000 for fifteen years to Mr. Gunton, the following to Mr. Magee will sound flat, feeble, and cheap.

January 17th, 1899.

Hon. W. A. Magee,

Pittsburgh Times,

Pittsburgh, Pa.

Dear Sir:

As per understanding, herewith enclosed find Certificate of Deposit to your order for $1250, the receipt of which kindly acknowledge.

Truly yours,

Jno. D. Archbold.

(See page 26 for fac-similc.)

Twelve hundred and fifty dollars!

It was all it was worth, however.

And yet, there's this to be thought of. Mr. Magee, here addressed as connected with the Pittsburgh Times, belonged to the great House of Magee, the head of which ruled over Keystone politics at his particular Pittsburgh end of the alley. The Times might mean but little, taken merely as the Times. But what if, in this Archbold-Standard Oil connection, the name included that Magee boss-ship? How important the latter would be to Governor Stone, and Congressman Dalzell, and others of the Standard Oil herd who lived in the smoke-thrown Pittsburgh shadow? Possibly Mr. Archbold wrote other letters to Mr. Magee, and enclosed other and more satisfying certificates of deposit.

Down in Baltimore there's a magazine called the Manufacturers' Record. Connected with its management, twelve years ago, was Mr. Edmonds. Apparently, Mr. Edmonds and Mr. Archbold had met - and agreed - in a business way; for early in 1901 one finds Mr. Archbold writing this:

26 Broadway.

February 13th, 1901.

Mr. R. H. Edmonds,

Baltimore, Md.

Dear Mr. Edmonds:

I have your several very interesting favors. I return you Senator McLaurin's letter with the clippings.

The whole affair at Washington has been most interesting.

Have been sorry indeed to hear of the Senator's illness. Mr. Griscom undertook to have a talk with him on Monday through a mutual friend. Your own work in all this matter has been most admirable. Very truly yours,

Jno. D. Archbold.

The sick statesman alluded to was Senator Gorman. The "talk," which Mr. Griscom was to have had with him, would have borne upon the Shipping Bill, a measure concerning which Mr. Archbold never ceased to get excited. There's nothing in this magazine's possession to indicate just what was that "whole affair at Washington" which Mr. Archbold found "most interesting." But since a certain man was in the White House, and a certain boss was in the Republican saddle, it's a safe wager that "the whole affair" concerned Special Privilege in a favorable, rivet-fastening way.

Mr. Edmonds' work "has been most admirable"; later he is, no doubt, to receive good news as related to Mr. Grasty and the Southern Farm Magazine. For says Mr. Archbold:

26 Broadway.

December 18th, 1901.

Mr. Thomas P. Grasty,

C/o Buck & Pratt,

Room 1203, 27 William St., City.

Dear Mr. Grasty:

I have your favors of yesterday, and beg to return you herewith the telegram from Mr. Edmonds to you. We are willing to continue the subscription of $5,000 to the Southern Farm Magazine for another year, payments to be made the same way they have been made this year. We do not doubt but that the influence of your publication throughout the South is of a most helpful character. With good wishes, I am,

Very truly yours,

Jno. D. Archbold.

(See page 24 for fac-simile.)

For how many Southern Farm Magazines should that 5000-dollar subscription pay? Also, would it confer upon its editorial utterances a Standard Oil hue?

Mr. Archbold not alone takes annual care of the Southern Farm Magazine to the extent of a comfortable and comforting $5000, but he recalls that Mr. Edmonds has a hookup with the Manufacturers' Record. To remember is to act with Mr. Archbold, and he indites the following:

26 Broadway.

Oct. 10th, 1902.

Mr. R. H. Edmonds,

Baltimore, Md.

Dear Sir:

Responding to your favor of the 9th, it gives me pleasure to enclose you herewith certificate of deposit to your favor for $3,000, covering a year's subscription to the Manufacturers' Record. Truly yours,

Jno. D. Archbold.

Does any gentleman know if Mr. Archbold has kept up or discontinued his Standard Oil "subscription" to the Manufacturers' Record and the Southern Farm Magazine? What are those earnest papers just now saying of oil and wool and sugar and income tax?

The plot thickens; Mr. Grasty comes to New York, establishes himself at the Waldorf-Astoria and addresses Mr. Archbold. Also, the greatest little letter writer of any age makes next day's haste to answer. Says he:

26 Broadway.

December 11th, 1902.

Mr. Thomas P. Grasty,

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, City.

My dear Mr. Grasty:

I have your favor of yesterday. It may be the first of the week before I can bring the matter up you so ably present, but I shall hope for favorable consideration of it at the hands of my friends here. There is no doubt whatever of the excellent work being done by your publications, and by yourself and Mr. Edmonds on all the lines, and I feel that it would be almost an act of presumption to make any suggestions with reference to your course. If anything at any time occurs to us, however, we will not hesitate to speak of it, in response to your kind suggestion. The Lindsay matter was certainly most admirably handled.

Very truly yours,

Jno. D. Archbold.

How exasperating to have but the fraction or merest fragment of so entertaining a correspondence! And the world might have had it all, had those with the facts in their keeping acted upon specific instructions to bring to the fore what all men should see and know.

Mr. Grasty abandons the WaldorfAstoria for the Hotel York, and composes a long and earnest letter to Mr. A.:

Hotel York, Dec. 4, 1903.

Dear Mr. Archbold:

In the article, "Teachers Vs. Doers," in the Manufacturers' Record this week, there is a world of good common sense. Although Mr. Morgan is commended as the leader in rescuing transportation properties and thereby meeting the needs of the country . . . nevertheless I want to say to you that I believe that it would be a good thing if Mr. Morgan could be peacefully and quietly supplanted as the most conspicuous representative of financial power. . . . You can scarcely realize how much harm has been done by his "undoing," or by what people consider the exposure of his methods. But whatever we may call it, the effect of the discredit which has befallen him, has been to make the public believe - or at least to take seriously - sensational stories, concocted for demagogic effect, which prior to these disclosures were considered as unfounded and unworthy of credence. ... I honestly believe that the interests of such immeasurable magnitude as Mr. Morgan is supposed to dominate, ought to be under the control of wiser men men with sense enough to see and avoid such palpable pitfalls as surrounded the ship-building deal. A substitution of controlling power a change of generals seems to me the only way to escape the consequences of (and to head off) public distrust of our great organizations and to stop the supply of fresh ammunition to the "trust busters."

Now, among the latter I put Theodore Roosevelt and W. R. Hearst in the same category - and Hearst today has an organization of immense efficiency made up of first class, high-priced brains backed not by a barrel but by a hogshead, and is liable to be the Democratic nominee for the presidency. That Roosevelt will be the Republican nominee is a foregone conclusion. Now in times of depression the slogan, "Anything for a change," goes a long way. If a chance be even possible and in my opinion it is probable people who stand for the maintenance of American institutions and for the "greatest good to the greatest number," ought to be arranging to prevent the possibility of such a disaster as Hearst's election to the presidency. Mr. Gorman is the only man that can beat him, if I read correctly the signs of the times.

Yours truly, Thomas P. Grasty.

Mr. Grasty's views hold one's interest like a novel by Walter Scott. Also "palpable pitfall" is good. You see it was on the sharp heels of the ship-trust explosion, and the exposure of that memorable "watering" of some $10,000,000 of actual assets to nearly $40,000,000 in stocks and bonds. The cautious Mr. Archbold never answered this letter.

The Grasty feeler as to Mr. Gorman is as transparent as glass. It's drawing in toward a presidential nomination, and Mr. Gorman - who's been a never-failing candidate since the first Cleveland inauguration in 1885 - is Mr. Grasty's choice.

Mr. Grasty's next letter is, also, too long to print in full:

Telephone, 6243-38th.

Hotel York.

Thursday, Jan. 7, 1904.

Dear Mr. Archbold:

As you see I am back in New York. There are several matters for which I think one may "thank god and take courage " at the beginning of this year of grace. One is that the business men of this Country have apparently decided not to be "bull-dozed" by labor. Another matter for congratulation is that the U. S. Steel Corporation - an institution of incalculable significance & potential for evil or for good, - seem to be about to come under the control of men who do not make "mis-cues." Another is that the fear lest the Democrats may get together & nominate a strong, safe man, is likely to have a good effect on the President in bringing him to think more seriously & soberly & sanely than when he imagined he was going to have a "walk-over—" or rather a triumphal procession to a second term. . . . In this week's Record you will probably see a statement of the case from a very sensible editor down in Virginia. Whether you agree with it or not, I can but feel that it is not desirable from the standpoint of the interests you are identified with for any course or any policy calculated to stir up strife & embroil us in what might menace our commerce, to go uncriticized and unrebuked. "Hot-heads" are bad enough in private life: "hot-heads" at the helm of the ship of state must be put through a cooling process.

A final word about Gorman. It would be worth millions beyond computation to the business interests merely to have him nominated by the Democrats. He is the one possible candidate with whom an understanding can be reached. On this aspect of the case I want to tell you a few things that I can not quite say on paper. Yours truly,

Thomas P. Grasty.

One can see with the eye of fancy the dry grin on Mr. Archbold's face at this lofty lecturing by Mr. Grasty. Not but what Mr. Archbold will "thank God" as deeply as ever could Mr. Grasty, "that the business men of this country have apparently decided not to be bulldozed by labor."

Mr. Grasty's disclosures touching Mr. Gorman are interesting, especially those which Mr. Grasty "cannot quite say on paper." The confident Mr. Grasty, however, was barking at a knot. There was never the ghost of the shade of the shadow of a Gorman chance in 1904.

Six days elapse, and Mr. Grasty again writes Mr. Archbold:

Hotel York.

January 13th, 1904.

Dear Mr. Archbold:

I referred two months ago (in one of my letters to you) to W. R. Hearst's activities, and to the progress he was making. . . .

I send you herewith a clipping from today's N. Y. Times, showing a scheme that had never been suspected, i. e., to get the convention for the one city in which the Godless element is supreme.

I have heard that Mr. Morgan has said he'd rather have Hearst than Roosevelt. I want Mr. Gorman to feel that my friends are his friends. He has just asked me to come to see him. He is in some perplexity over a situation in Baltimore which 'tis thought I may be in a position to give some suggestions about. I do not mind saying to you that my relations with him are closely confidential by reason of a peculiar situation which I can't explain in a letter.

Whether he is nominated for the Presidency or not, he will as long as he lives, be the most powerful friend that any of us could have at Washington. His marvelous gift of heading off foolish moves, his ability to keep from being done what ought not to be done, make him a more useful friend than the fellow that "does things." As I was about to say, he ought to be the Democratic nominee, but if not, he will as long as he lives be a senator and a leader. He was never known to go back on a friend.

Yours truly, Thomas P. Grasty.

You will note that in all of these letters, Mr. Grasty never once speaks of Mr. Archbold's "reply." That isn't a Grasty impoliteness; Mr. Archbold has sent no reply. In vain does the fowler spread his net in the sight of any bird. Mr. Archbold knew that Mr. Gorman inspired, if he didn't quite dictate these letters, and was looking over Mr. Grasty's shoulder as they were taken down. To have written Mr. Grasty would have been to write Mr. Gorman, and Mr. Archbold wasn't ready to submit his own and Standard Oil's presidential preferences to the Maryland Machiavelli. Mr. Archbold is not without qualities which adorn the turkey gobbler, and the tail of his vanity is a broad and spreading tail. It will take a very much surer hand than Mr. Grasty's, however, to throw the cunning salt on it.

When the people's face puts on a frown, Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Carnegie, and Mr. Archbold do not, to be sure, slash the tail off a dog. For, in pious circles, even more than any simple robbery, it might shake one's position. Avoiding, therefore, that dog curtailment, they institute a hookworm inquiry, or build a library, or give a million to a college, or arrange to pay perpetually the gas bill of St. Paul's. And in this they are wise. Any of these, as tempting aside the popular tongue, would serve much better than the vulgar de-tailment of some dog.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What was the original definition of objective journalism? Where did it originate from?

Back in 1990, Richard Streckfuss, an Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln wrote a paper titled "Objectivity in Journalism", in which he makes finding the answer to this question remarkably easy. Before the phrase "Objective Journalism" was born, science and news gathering were fused together in thought by Walter Lippmann, the Father of Modern Journalism. Realistically speaking, this one single thing is what earns Lippmann that title. Lippmann's ideal of the objective journalist can be found here, in his book titled "Liberty and the News", on page 82:
With this increase of prestige must go a professional training in journalism in which the ideal of objective testimony is cardinal. The cynicism of the trade needs to be abandoned, for the true patterns of the journalistic apprentice are not the slick persons who scoop the news, but the patient and fearless men of science who have labored to see what the world really is. It does not matter that the news is not susceptible of mathematical statement. In fact, just because news is complex and slippery, good reporting requires the exercise of the highest of the scientific virtues. They are the habits of ascribing no more credibility to a statement than it warrants, a nice sense of the probabilities, and a keen understanding of the quantitative importance of particular facts.

From there, an entire industry is born. Prior to Walter Lippmann, newspapers were either wildly sensationalist or they bore the name of a political party. Generally, the name of the political party in their title reflected the paper's partisan view. Such papers do still exist today, one such paper can be found Florida's Capital - the Tallahassee Democrat - but they are far and few inbetween compared to what they once were.

Lippmann's paragraph-long explanation is easily summed up in the book "The Elements of Journalism", on page 74:

in other words, the method is objective, not the journalist.

Of course, all of this is undermined by the dark side of modern journalism: its foundation of using strategically placed words to manipulate the readers.(Lippmann writes at length about how to manipulate the reading audience, here)

In addition to showing us where the ideal for so-called "objective journalism" comes from - the spirit of objective journalism; professor Streckfuss also puts on display where objectivity really gets fused together with journalism. In 1924, Nelson Antrim Crawford wrote a book titled "The Ethics of Journalism", in which he wrote the following:

"Aside from integrity, intelligence and objective-mindedness are the qualities most needed."

That's how these things get started. Note that Crawford did not come up with this idea all on his own by just plucking it out of thin air. A page search of Crawford's book reveals references to Walter Lippmann 20+ times.

Walter Lippmann really is the Father of Modern Journalism.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Socialism infecting the clergy


THREE hundred of the clergy of this country are declared to be allied with the Socialist movement by open profession, while many more are secretly in sympathy with the cause, but hesitate for prudential reasons to make an open avowal. Only a few years ago, it is stated, Socialist principles seemed to be confined to a small number of Unitarian preachers, "who, being radical in theology, readily became radical in sociology likewise." But now, we read in a statement issued by the Christian Socialist Fellowship, "not only do the Unitarians smell of the malady, but Episcopalians by the score, and numerous Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Disciples, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Universalists, and even Roman Catholics have become infected with the Socialist microbe and stricken with the disease." An active propaganda is contemplated by the ministers who have recently formed in New York what is to be known as the Ministers' Socialist Conference, which will hold closed sessions in order to avoid misrepresentation by the press. At a meeting held on April 29 a declaration of principles was adopted, and, as given to the press by the secretary, Rev. John D. Long, pastor of the Park Side Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, embodies the following purposes:

"The United States Government according to the Constitution is a government of, by, and for the people. We go a step further and say that the people should also own the means of production and distribution. We realize that this can not be brought about suddenly, but everything is tending that way. The post-office system, the water supply, the public-school system, and several other things now run by the Government are applied Socialism. We believe that a republic is one step from a monarchy to Socialism, and by evolution helped by education Socialism is bound to come. It may, we believe, take a generation to establish Socialism in place of the present forms of government, as the people will gradually have to overcome long-cherished prejudices before they are prepared for the new order of things.

"Meantime the evolution is going on. We believe that the trustification of lines of business is collective ownership for the benefit of the corporations and will be followed by collective ownership for the benefit of the people. The Ministers' Socialist Conference does not concern itself with election campaigns or the nomination of Socialist candidates, but takes up Socialism in the broad sense as the coming order of things, which it can help to hasten by educating the people to the realization that Socialism is the highest form of social and industrial development. Socialism will not come in the form of a sudden revolution, but will come naturally and logically. We believe in living up to our obligations as citizens under the present form of govemment until Socialism takes its place."

A convention will be held in New York from June 1 to June 3, so it is announced, to make the organization a national one. Dr. Long, in speaking on an earlier occasion to a representative of The Sun, said of the motives behind this movement :

"The clergymen who have affiliated with the new organization have come to the conclusion that Christianity will not work under a competitive commercial system and that the inauguration of Socialism is necessary for civilized human beings. We regard Socialism as the economic expression of the Christian life and believe that it is now the duty of the Church to step in and advocate Christian Socialism in the United States. H. H. Rogers in a recent magazine article said that business is war; and if business is war and if, as another man said, war is hell, then business and the competitive system must also be hell. Several of the trustees of the largest corporations are also behind the new movement, but their relations to us are of the most confidential nature and they have enjoined me from mentioning their names."

From statements made by Dr. Long we gather the following historical account of the larger organization, whose membership includes laymen as well as ministers. Considerable attention has recently been attracted to the meetings of the New York branch of this body which have occurred on Sunday evenings at the Church of the Ascension. The publicity gained by these Socialistic discussions finally proved distasteful to the vestry, and last week it was voted to eliminate this subject from future church meetings. Dr. Long thus presents the facts :

"The formation of the National Christian Socialist Fellowship dates from a conference held in Louisville, Ky., two years ago. One year since, a much larger conference was held in Chicago, and this year, May 28 to 31, a national conference is to be held in New York City.

"The movement at its beginning established a paper called The Christian Socialist, which is published in Chicago by a couple of preachers, Rev. E. E. Carr and Rev. J. O. Bentall. . . . . . .

"The object of the Christian Socialist Fellowship is declared to be 'To permeate churches, denominations, and other religious institutions with the social message of Jesus; to show that Socialism is the economic expression of the Christian life; to end the class struggle by establishing industrial democracy, and to hasten the reign of justice and brotherhood upon earth.'

"It is asserted that the movement is not political, yet it is admitted that it is through political action that its principles are to become operative, and it is not denied that those most active in pushing the propaganda are also active members of the Socialist party."

Friday, August 8, 2014

The American Yellow Press, by Sydney Brooks


By Sydney Brooks

The late Mr. Joseph Pulitzer was unquestionably one of the most remarkable personalities of latter-day America. Indomitable by nature, of quick, unshackled perceptions, passionate to learn and to experiment, and with a strong vein of idealism running through his lust for power and success and domination, he was fortunate in the fate that landed him, forty-seven years ago, in Boston when America was on the very point of plunging into the most amazing era of material development and exploitation that the world has yet witnessed. The penniless son of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, young Pulitzer shifted from one occupation to another before he finally found his life-work in journalism. He was a soldier, a steamboat stoker on the Mississippi, a teamster, and, some say, a hackman and a waiter by turns before he became a reporter of a St. Louis newspaper. Once in journalism his daring and imagination and his avidity to master every detail of his profession quickly carried him to the front. He bought a St . Louis evening paper and converted it into the Post-Despatch, working it up into one of the most influential journals and most valuable newspaper properties in the Middle West.

In 1883 he purchased from Jay Gould the New York World, and almost to the day of his death, in spite of long absences and the appalling affliction of blindness, he remained its director and inspiration. Under his dashing guidance the World became the most fearless, the most independent, the most powerful, and also the most sensational journal in the United States. On the occasion of his sixtieth birthday Mr. Pulitzer sent a message to his staff in which he embodied his conception of a great newspaper: "An institution which should always fight for progress and reform; never tolerate injustice or corruption; always fight demagogues of all parties; never belong to any party; always oppose privileged classes and public plunder; never lack sympathy with the poor; always remain devoted to the public welfare; never be satisfied with merely printing news; always be drastically independent; never be afraid to attack wrong whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty." And in a codicil to his will, published on November 15th, he reiterated his journalistic ideals in the form of a last request and admonition to his sons: "I particularly enjoin on my sons and descendants the duty of preserving, perfecting, and perpetuating the World newspaper, to the maintenance and publishing of which I have sacrificed my health and strength, in the same spirit in which I have striven to create and conduct it as a public institution from motives higher than mere gain, it having been my desire that it should be at all times conducted in a spirit of independence and with a view to inculcating high standards and public spirit among the people and their official representatives; and it is my earnest wish that the said newspaper shall hereafter be conducted on the same principles."

These are high professions of faith, and the World in many ways has not fallen below them. Time and again Mr. Pulitzer risked popularity and gain and offended many powerful interests rather than compromise where he thought compromise to be wrong. Often reckless, prejudiced, and unfair in his onslaughts, he nevertheless rendered many public services, withstood the clamor of the hour at more than one fateful crisis, and preserved inviolate and incorruptible his ideal of independence. He was a man of real public spirit and of genuine political instinct, and the large sums he devoted to establishing a school of journalism in Columbia College bore witness to a pride in his profession to which no member of it can be indifferent. In his own distinctive phosphorescent way he meant to be, and was, a force for righteousness.

It is probable, however, that when the memory of his individuality has faded, Mr. Pulitzer will be chiefly remembered as the Father of the Yellow Press, or, at any rate, as the man who. if he did not originate yellow journalism, so greatly extended it as to make it appear his own invention, and who, if he left some of its least creditable excesses to others, was for long its best-known and most pyrotechnical practitioner. In that capacity his practice did not always square with his principles. There is no more vigorous or higher-minded journal in the United States than Collier's Weekly. In paying tribute to Mr. Pulitzer's memory and in emphasizing the vastness of the opportunity open to his sons and successors, that admirable organ recently remarked: "Upon them is the burden of showing originality and strength, like their father, but of applying those qualities to a changing era. The forward spirit that he showed in attacking social feudalism, they will find themselves called upon to apply to the pressing task of helping to take graft and falsehood out of journalism itself. He never cared to do his share toward removing the loan shark and the patent-medicine poisoner by forbidding them the use of his own columns.

The news also needs to be treated with more responsibility. We will give an instance from a recent day. A young stenographer, passing from a street car to her home a block away after nightfall, felt a man's fingers clinch about her neck, and when she reached her hands towards the fingers she found that they were very large. Twenty minutes later the girl's mother found her on the sidewalk, weeping hysterically, and able to remember only that she had been strangled. Next day in the Evening World it was stated on the authority of an examining physician that the girl's skull was fractured, her jaw broken, her breasts, face and arms terribly bitten, 'as a mad dog might have torn the victim of an infuriated attack,' and her body covered with bruises from blows struck by a club of which the girl cried out deliriously; lusty bloodhounds led a horde of officers In uniform and a score of detectives across the countryside. Actually there were no bloodhounds, no pursuing policemen in uniform, no bites, no fractured skull, no broken jaw, no body bruises, and no club. As Joseph Pulitzer served his generation in his own direction, so his sons, we are sure, will serve a later generation in the light of present morals."

This willingness to sport with the facts and to insist on extracting "a thrill" from every incident is one of the distinctive characteristics of the Yellow Press. The World has been by no means immune from it. I remember reading in its columns a long interview with Mr. Pierpont Morgan of a most sensational character, and admirably contrived to embitter the working man against the capitalists. Mr. Morgan's inaccessibility to journalists is notorious, and the statements he was alleged to have made were of a kind to stamp the whole interview as a concoction from beginning to end. In a subsequent issue, when the damage had been done, the World acknowledged that It had been "imposed upon." At the same time, and side by side with its retraction, it published a series of comments on the alleged interview from a number of newspapers - a proceeding that might well have been taken as the text for a lecture in Mr. Pulitzer's School of Journalism.

To put the American Yellow Press in its proper light, one must remember that journalism, while a giant, is a very young one. In its present form it is the product of a quick succession of astounding inventions. The railway, the cable, the telegraph, the telephone, the rotary press, the linotype, the manufacture of paper from woodpulp, and color-printing - these are the discoveries of yesterday that have made the journal of to-day possible. We are still too near to the phenomenon to be able to assess its significance, or to determine its relations to the general scheme of things. Journalism still awaits its philosopher; awaits, I mean, someone who will work out the action and reaction of this new and tremendous power of organized, ubiquitous publicity upon human life. It has already, to all appearances, taken its place among the permanent social forces: we see it visibly affecting pretty nearly all we do and say and think, competing with the churches, superseding parliaments, elbowing out literature, rivalling the schools and universities, furnishing the world with a new set of nerves; yet nobody that I am aware of has yet attempted to trace out its consequences, to define its nature, functions, and principles, or to establish its place and prerogatives by the side of those other forces, religion, law, art, commerce, and so on, that, unlike journalism, infused the ancient as well as the modern world.

Journalism is young, and the problems propounded by the necessity of adjusting it to society and the State have so far been hardly formulated. Its youth must be its excuse for whatever flaws and excesses it has developed. The Yellow Press, as I view the matter, is a disorder of infancy and not of decrepitude; it is a sort of journalistic scarlet fever, and will be cured in time. And there are many reasons why it should have fastened upon America with particular virulence. Journalism there has run through three main phases. There was, first, the phase in which a paper was able to support itself by its circulation alone, in which advertisements were a minor consideration, and in which the editor, by his personality, his opinions, and his power of stating them, was the principal factor. But the day of the supremacy of the leading article perished soon after the Civil War. and there set in the era - it is just beginning with us - when the important thing was not opinion but news, and when the advertisers became the chief source of newspaper profits Speaking broadly, the centre of the power of the Press in the United States has shifted from the editorial to the news columns. Its influence is not on that account less operative, but it is, I should judge, less tangible and personal and more diffused, dependent, that is to say, less on editorial comment than on the skill shown in collecting the news of the day and in presenting it in a form that will express particular views and policies.

The ordinary American journal of to-day serves up the events of the preceding twenty-four hours from its own point of view, colored by its own prepossessions and affiliations, and the most effective propagandism for or against a given measure or man is thus carried on continuously, by a multitude of little strokes, in the news columns, and particularly in the headlines attached to them. Now the Americans have always taken a liberal, if not a licentious, view of the kind of news that ought to be printed. In a somewhat raw, remote, free and easy community, impressed with the idea of social equality, absorbed in the work of laying the material foundations of a vast civilization, eminently sociable and inquisitive but with comparatively few social traditions and almost no settled code of manners, it was natural enough that the line between private and public affairs should be loosely drawn. Moreover, the Americans have never enjoyed anything like the severity of our own libel laws. The greater the truth the greater the libel is not a maxim of American law. On the contrary, a statement, if published without malice, is held to be justifiable so long ns it can be shown to be true. Attempts have been made in some States to elevate a published retraction into a sufficient defence in a suit for libel, and to invest a reporter's "copy" with the halo of "privileged communication." Then, again, there is nothing in America that at all corresponds to our law of contempt of court . An American paper is entitled to anticipate the probable findings of a judge and jury, to take sides in any case that happens to interest it, to comment on and to garble the evidence from day to day, to work up sympathy for or against the prosecutor or defendant, and to proclaim its conviction of the guilt or innocence of the prisoner from the first moment of his arrest and without waiting for the tiresome formality of the verdict. Hardly an issue, indeed, appears of even the most reputable organs in the United States, such as the New York Sun, The Times, and the Evening Post, that would not land its publisher and editor in prison if the English law of contempt of court obtained in America.

Conditions such as these favored from the first the species of journalism which the world has agreed to designate as yellow. When James Gordon Bennett, for instance, started the New York Herald, he specifically, as he himself said in his salutatory, "renounced all so-called principles." He set out to find the news and to print it first; the more private and personal it was the better. He was more than once horsewhipped in the streets of New York. But that did little good. Bennett's reply was to bring out a flaming "extra" with a full account of the incident written in his own pungent English. The more he was horsewhipped the more papers he sold. 'From the success of the New York Herald may be dated that false conception of what news is, of the methods that may be employed in getting it, and of its importance to a newspaper that has since permeated nearly all American journalism. Mr. Pulitzer and Mr. Hearst have in reality done little more than to devote inexhaustible ingenuity, wealth, and enterprise to working the soil which Mr. Bennett long ago was the first to break. But their form of cultivation has been so intensive as to constitute by itself the third of the three phases through which American journalism has thus far passed.

The Yellow Press existed long before it was christened. It was not, indeed, until 1895, when Mr. Hearst came to New York intent on beating Mr. Pulitzer on his own ground and by his own weapons, that the type of journalism which emerged from their resounding conflict was labelled "yellow." As a mere uninitiated Englishman, resident at that time in New York, it seemed to me a contest of madmen for the primacy of a sewer. Sprawling headlines, the hunting down of criminals by imaginative reporters, the frenzied demand for their reprieve when caught and condemned, interviews that were "fakes" from the first word to the last, the melodramatization of the follies of the Four Hundred, columns of gossip and scandal that could only have emanated from stewards in the fashionable clubs or maids and butlers in private houses, sympathetic reports from feminine pens of murder, divorce, and breach of promise cases with a sob in every line, every incident of the day tortured to yield the pure juice of emotionalism beloved of the servants' hall - such was the week-day fare provided by the Yellow Press in those ebullient days. On Sundays it was much worse. It is on Sunday that the American papers, yellow and otherwise, put forth their finest efforts and produce their most flamboyant effects. The Sunday edition of a New York daily is a miscellany of from sixty to eighty pages that in mere wood-pulp represents a respectable plantation and that would carpet a fair-sized room. Of all its innumerable features the most distinctively yellow is the comic supplement printed in colors.

Nothing better calculated to kill the American reputation for humor has ever been conceived. It is a medley of knock-about facetiousness, through which week after week march a number of types and characters - Happy Hooligan, Frowsy Freddy, Weary Willie, Tired Tim, and so on - whose adventures and sayings make up a world that resembles nothing so much as a libellous vision of the cheapest music hall seen in a nightmare by a madman. And among the other attractions of these Sunday editions you will usually find a page or two given up to the doings and photographs of those preposterous actors and actresses who are so woefully smaller than the art they practise; and another page, fully illustrated, to society news and scandal; and a third page, and, with luck, a fourth, to the latest crime. The Yellow Press has consistently specialized in crime. I recall a famous issue of one paper that described and illustrated a hundred different ways of killing a man; and, indeed, a wouldbe criminal could hardly hope for a better school in which to master the theory of his profession. Pictures of men in masks in the act of blowing open a safe, of an embezzling cashier stepping on to the train for Mexico, of a drunken man assaulting his wife with a bootjack, of a youth drowning a girl he has betrayed, reproductions of the faces of murderers, of the rooms in which and the weapons with which their crimes were committed, precise and detailed descriptions of the latest swindling trick or embezzlement device or confidence game - even, in one case, I remember, a column and a half of exact information on the construction of an infernal machine and the best way of packing it so as to avoid detection in the post office - these are the aids with which the Yellow Press strews the path of the budding burglar, thief, and criminal.

But perhaps its greatest offence is its policy of perverting the truth in the interest of a mere tawdry sensationalism, of encouraging the American people to look for a thrill in every paragraph of news, of feeding them on a diet of scrappy balderdash. This habit of digging away for what is emotionally picturesque and "popular" has infected almost the whole of the American daily Press. Only a few months ago a professor of moral philosophy at Harvard was bewailing how egregiously he had been victimized by this policy. He was delivering an address at a girls' college in Boston on the higher education of women, and in the course of it he mentioned the case of a girl-student who had become so absorbed in her work as to lose all interest in social diversions. Her parents and friends pressed her to slacken off for a year or so and devote more time to balls and luncheons and so on. She came to him, the professor, for advice, tind he counselled her to do as she was urged. "Flirt," he said, "flirt hard and show that a college girl is equal to whatever is required of her." The professor, as I said, in the course of his address, which took about an hour to deliver, recalled this incident. He did not dwell on it; he made no other reference to it whatever; he said nothing at all about the place that flirtation should hold in a properly organized curriculum.

That same evening a Boston paper came out with a report of his "Address on Flirtation." The next day he was asked for but declined an interview on the subject. The interview, however, appeared, a column of imaginative literature, generously adorned with headlines and quotation marks, setting forth in the gayest of colors his "advocacy of flirtation." The professor, not being an ardent newspaper reader, did not realize what had happened until there suddenly began to rain upon him a succession of solemn or derisive editorials, letters from distressed parents, abusive post cards, and leaflets from societies for the prevention of vice with the significant passages marked. The bubble grew and grew; "symposia" were held by scores of papers on whether girls should flirt; the topic raged over the continent; and it soon became a settled conviction in the minds of some ninety million people, who at once proceeded to denounce his hoary depravity, that the professor of moral philosophy at Harvard was advocating a general looseness in the relations of the sexes. And that is the sort of buffoonery to which any man who opens his mouth in public in the United States is inevitably exposed.

But not all of the enormities of the Yellow Press were of their own commission. They fostered an appetite for sensationalism, and all sorts of news-bureaus and Press agencies came into existence to gratify it. More than once the yellow journals found themselves hoist with their own petard and tricked into publishing incidents that had never the slightest basis in fact. It is on record, for example, that the editor of one of these news agencies conceived one day a wonderfully plausible story of an attempted suicide in a fashionable doctor's office, the would-be suicide being rescued only by the timely intervention of the doctor. The thing never happened, but it might have happened, and he sat down and wrote a realistic account of it. This account he handed to a girl on his reporters' staff, telling her to take it to some prominent doctor and convince him of the numberless advantages, the prodigious advertisement, that would accrue to him if only he would endorse the tale. The first doctor she approached said he could stand a good deal in the way of exaggeration, but that he was not yet educated up to the point of swearing to the truth of a story that was an absolute lie.

The second, a physician known all over New York, bundled her out of the house in double-quick time. At the third attempt she was successful. She found a doctor, and a well-known one, too, who was delighted with the idea, and gladly closed with her proposal. They went over his consulting room together; the cord with which the patient had tried to strangle herself during the momentary absence of the doctor, the lounge to which she was removed, the restoratives applied, were all agreed upon. The story was then sent out to the newspaper offices; the doctor, being appealed to by the reporters, confirmed it in every detail: and it appeared in the next morning's papers, three-quarters of a column of soul-moving narrative, with the doctor's photograph and a sketch of his consulting room, and this final paragraph: "Owing to the urgent pleadings of the lady, Dr. ----- refuses to give the name and address of his patient, but says she belongs to one of the wealthiest and most exclusive social circles in the city." On the whole it would not be easy to conceive a deeper abyss of infamy.

It sometimes happened that the ingenuity of the sensation-mongers was wasted. When Mr. Henry Miller, for instance, was about to make his first appearance in New York as a star in a new play he received the following letter from the editor of one of these news bureaus: "Dear Sir, - You are probably aware that nowadays it is sensation and not talent that wins. As you are to make your first stellar appearance in New York, it is almost necessary that you do something to attract attention, and I have a scheme to propose. On Sunday night your house will be entered by burglars. They will turn the place upside down, and upon discovery pistol-shots will be fired. They will escape, leaving blood-stains upon the floor. You will get the credit of fighting single-handed twa desperate robbers. The New York Herald and the other morning dallies will get the story and the whole town will be talking about you. I will furnish the burglars and take all chances, and will only charge you $100 dollars for the scheme." Mr. Miller declined the offer, but it is amazing to discover whither the passion for advertisement in that land of advertisement will lead people.

I remember seeing in a New York paper a long article describing a house of Pompeian design, built of glass bricks and glass columns of all colors, that was to be erected at Newport for a Western millionaire by a well-known firm of city architects, whose name and address were given and who supplied the paper with interior and exterior plans of the projected buildings. It turned out that no such freak was ever contemplated, and that the architects, for such advertisement as it would give them, and the reporter, hungering for a sensation, had concocted the tale between them. To the same genesis, I should say, may be ascribed a paragraph about a chiropodist who announced that he had replaced a missing toe with one of solid gold. The weapon which the Yellow Press had forged was, in short, turned against them. There were cases in which conspiracies were formed between reporters and unscrupulous outsiders to procure the insertion of paragraphs and articles on which a libel action could be based against the papers publishing them. There were cases, too, in which the reporters who were detailed on some special mission - say, to interview the jurymen after a famous murder trial - would get together, ignore the refusal of the jurymen to be interviewed, and write out, each in his own style, what they ought to have said. There is really something more than jest in the old remark that Shakespeare would never have suited a New York newspaper; he had not sufficient imagination.

But the Yellow Press is not all evil and inanity. It has its virtues and its usefulness. The calculation which was the base of Mr. Hearst's invasion of New York was this. He added up the figures of the circulation of all the New York papers and compared them with the census returns of population. He found that there was a large number of people in New York who apparently never read, or at any rate never bought, a paper at all. These were the people he set out to cater for, and it is undoubtedly one of the merits of the Yellow Press that it has forced people to read who never read before. That, it may be said, is not rendering much of a service to the community if the type of reading provided was such as I have described. Well, I think that is arguable. In the first place, not all the columns of the Yellow Press, even in its yellowest days, were filled with the frivolities and slush I have touched on; and in the second place, Mr. W. Irwin, who has contributed this year a brilliant series of articles to Collier's Weekly on American Journalism, notes the very interesting fact that Mr. Hearst's papers, which one may take as fairly representative of the Yellow Press, appear to change their clientele once every seven or eight years.

From this Mr. Irwin comfortably infers that in general the more a man reads the better he reads. Once implant a taste for reading and the odds are that it will unconsciously improve itself, and will in time come to discard the tenth-rate in favor of the ninth-rate. Those who begin with Mr. Hearst's organs gradually find them out, grow disgusted, and desire something better. Sounder standards are thus in process of evolution all the time, and even the Yellow Press is affected by them and finds it to its interest to conform to them. Then, too, the Yellow Press attempts so much and covers such a wide field of life that some of its enterprises, by the mere law of averages, are bound to be beneficent. The New York American, for instance, in its news as well as its editorial columns has always paid special attention to matters of public health and domestic hygiene and the rearing of children and the care of the sick. In its own peculiar way, I should say it has sincerely tried to civilize its readers and make them think. Its columns have been the means of remedying hundreds of little injustices to the poor. A reader of the American or of the Evening Journal who is oppressed by his landlord or by the police, finds in his favorite paper a ready champion of his wrongs. The American is constantly risking the patronage of its advertisers by fighting drink and cigarettes. It is prolific of semi-philanthropic activities.

At the time of the Galveston flood and the San Francisco earthquake Mr. Hearst sent three full trains of provisions, clothing, medicines, doctors, and nurses across the Continent. The American conducts an admirable fresh-air fund; it takes a hundred children from the tenements every day throughout the summer for a day's outing at the seaside; it offers each year a two-weeks' vacation to the entire family having the largest number of children in the New York public schools; it distributes free ice in summer and free soup in winter and cartloads of toys at Christmas time; it is a newspaper, an adult kindergarten, and a charitable institution rolled into one. In the last Sunday edition that I happened to see, along with the comic supplement and plenty of inane gossip, I found an admirable article by d'Annunzio on the Italian expedition to Tripoli, and a very well-written and well-illustrated page given up to a popular digest of one of Reclus' works on anthropology. The Yellow Press gets most of what is bad in life into its columns but it does not exclude what is better. There is usually something to be found in it that is really instructive, and presented in a simple and stimulating fashion. It displays, of course, no sense of proportion whatever in arranging its news and in deciding between what is of real and permanent interest and what is merely and vulgarly ephemeral; the Christmas edition of a typical Yellow journal might easily print on one page Milton's Ode on the Nativity and on the next several columns of sketches and letterpress commenting on and illustrating the various styles of walking to be seen on Fifth Avenue among the members of the Four Hundred; but it is not irredeemably degrading.

But, besides all this, the Yellow Press in Mr. Pulitzer's and Mr. Hearst's hands has rendered some real public services. While most of the American daily papers in the big cities are believed to be under the influence of the "money power" and controlled by "the interests," the Yellow journals have never failed to flay the rich perverter of public funds and properties, the rich gambler in fraudulent consolidations, and the far-reaching oppressiveness of that alliance between organized wealth and debased politics which dominates America. They daily explain to the masses how they are being robbed by the Trusts, juggled with by the politicians, and betrayed by their elected officers. They unearth the iniquities of a great corporation with the same microscopic diligence that they squander on following up the clues in a murder mystery or on collecting or inventing the details of a society scandal.

Their motives may be dubious and their methods wholly brazen, but it is undeniable that the public has benefited by many of their achievements. The American criminal, whether he is of the kind that steals a public franchise or corrupts a legislature, or of the equally common but more frequently caught and convicted kind that rifles a safe or kidnaps a child, fears the Yellow Press far more than he fears the police or the public. Both Mr. Hearst and the late Mr. Pulitzer have not only saved millions of dollars to the public, but have fought a stimulating fight for democracy against plutocracy and privilege. The Yellow Press, in short, has proved a fearless and efficient instrument for the exposure of public wrong-doing. The political power which Mr. Hearst has built up on the basis of his Continental chain of journals represents something more than cheek and a check-book, pantomime and pandemonium. What gives him his ultimate influence is that he has used the resources of an unlimited publicity to make himself and his propaganda the rallying centre for disaffection and unrest.

With more point and passion and pertinacity than any other agency, his papers have stood for the people against the plutocracy, and for trade unions against capital, have assailed the "money power" and its control over the instruments of Government, have let daylight into the realities of American conditions, and have given pointed and constant expression to that weariness with the regular parties which is now pretty nearly a national sentiment. Daily expounded by Mr. Arthur Brisbane in the columns of the New York Evening Journal in a sharp, staccato, almost monosyllabic style of unsurpassable crispness, lucidity, and plausibility, set off with a coruscation of all known typographical devices, the Hearst creed and the Hearst programme have powerfully affected the imagination of the American, or at any rate the New York, masses. There is no stranger or more instructive experience than to get on a subway train in New York during the hours of the evening homeward rush and watch the laborer in his overalls, the tired shop girl, and the pallid clerk reading and re-reading Mr. Brisbane's "leader" for the day. He has, I suppose, a wider audience than any writer or preacher has had before.

Always fresh and pyrotechnical, master of the telling phrase and the captivating argument, and veiling the dexterous half-truth behind a drapery of buoyant and "popular" philosophy and sentiment, Mr. Brisbane has every qualification that an insinuating preacher of discontent should have. He, at any rate, has made the masses think - no man more so; the leading article in his hands has lost all its stodginess and restrictions, and become a vital and all-embracing instrument. That is something which would have to be borne in mind if one were to attempt the interesting but very serious task of estimating the influence of the Yellow Press on the American mind and character, and of determining how far it is responsible for, and how far the outcome of, the volatility and empiricism, the hysterical restlessness and superficiality, and the incapacity for deep and sustained thinking that have been noted in the American people. It seems hardly possible that even America should not pay something for its Yellow Press. I believe, however, that it is called upon to pay less and less as the years go on, and that the worst and most reckless days of yellow journalism are over.

Sydney Brooks.

The Fortnightly Review.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Significance of Yellow Journalism, by Lydia Kingsmill Commander



YELLOW journalism is outwardly distinguished by the flaring makeup of the paper, the striking headlines in startling type and the free use of illustrations; by the attention given to crime, sports, divorces and the tragic aspects of life in general; and by the constant appeal to the emotions in the presentation of the news. Human interest goes into every column; everything is a story and is told as such.

No papers were ever before, no others are now, so execrated and so beloved as are the yellow journals. But whether approved or condemned they must be considered, because of their tremendous influence. Their circulation figures are staggering. Not merely thousands, nor even hundreds of thousands, but millions of Americans read the yellow papers regularly. Therefore they cannot be ignored by anyone who would understand his age and his people.

The harshest criticism of yellow journalism is passed upon its method of obtaining circulation by indulging the low tastes of its readers. This is most reprehensible in the eyes of people of refined nature, who revolt at the details of crimes, despise prize-fights or horse-racing and loathe the exposure of family scandals.

But, after all, is not the difference between the readers and the critics of the yellow press one of cultivation, rather than of kind? The latter simply prefer scandal, crime and combat that deal with imaginary or historical characters. They are indifferent to the tragedy enacted yesterday in a slum tenement; but they follow with vivid interest the investigations of Sherlock Holmes; and thrill with the horror of Poe's tales or Balzac's gruesome stories or Stevenson's morbid, ghoulish, dual creature, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Is not the biography which stands preeminent in the opinion of the world - Boswell's Life of Johnson - a mass of petty, personal detail, a bundle of gossip? The high literary skill of the masterwriters makes yellow-journal subjects acceptable to the cultured few who turn with disgust from the crude newspaper of the multitude.

The very people who affect to despise the racing-reports of the yellow press attended in thousands the play of "Ben Hur," and in hundreds of thousands read the book; yet the whole interest of both centers around the chariot-race.

The Shakesperian tragedies and the Wagnerian operas, appreciation of which is supposed to unfailingly indicate a cultivated taste, are filled with battle, murder, tragedy and sudden death, such as would make first-class "copy" for the yellowest of journals.

Even the clergyman who denounces the sensationalism of the yellow press has possibly within the hour read aloud to an attentive and approving congregation a sanguinary chapter from the gory records of the Old Testament.

The public response to the yellow newspaper, the mighty circulation it rolls up, shows that it is just what the mass of people want. The finer a paper is the less it is in demand. This is a pity, but it is true; and the yellow journal looks the facts in the face, and appeals to people as they are. For the shortcomings of the yellow press we must blame the American people. As a whole we are interested in crime, scandal, prize-fights and horseracing. If we were not, the yellow journals would not be the most popular newspapers in the country.

But a sensational presentation of the news is not the only distinguishing characteristic of the yellow newspaper. If it were, there would be little to be said in its favor. The yellow journal, like the American people, though faulty in the extreme, has also its full share of virtues. It is vulgar and emotional; but it is kind and generous, active, wide-awake and progressive. It is bound to do many wrong things because it is doing something all the time. The only person who never does wrong is the one who never does anything. The man who never makes a mistake never makes anything else.

The yellow journal is not merely a newspaper; it is a living creature. It has a heart and conscience, as well as brains and strength. Other papers have opinions; it has feelings. It loves or hates, pities and protects or despises and exposes. Ordinary journalism talks; yellow journalism acts.

Each of the two great yellow papers of New York, the World and the Journal, has a colony of criminals in Sing Sing, offenders with whom the regular officers of the law either could not or would not deal, but whom the yellow press tracked and brought to justice. A few years ago a child was kidnapped and the police were powerless to find her. The Journal offered $2,000 reward and put its detective-reporters to work. The child was discovered and restored to her parents and the kidnappers, a husband and wife, are in penitentiary.

Quick-get-rich schemers, policy-kings, tricksters and thieves of every sort, as well as murderers, owe conviction and punishment to the activity and relentless pursuit of the yellow press. It would be impossible to enumerate a tenth of the crimes that have been exposed and criminals convicted by these papers. The law-breakers of New York fear yellow journalism far more than they do the police.

Yellow journalism guards the people's interests. Three summers ago the Ice-Trust had New York at its mercy, when ice meant life to hundreds, especially among the babes of the tenements. The price was raised to sixty cents a hundred and no five-cent pieces would be sold. This was annoying even to the well-to-do; but it brought suffering and death to the homes of the poor.

All the papers complained, but the Journal promptly began a lawsuit against the trust. Exposure, threats and legal action combined to destroy the ring, reduce the price of ice and restore to the poor the five-cent pieces which were all they could afford.

Two years ago gas was soaring in price and diminishing in supply while by some trickery meters measured incredible measurements. The World made a systematic examination, exposed the roguery, and cut the gas-bills of the city in two.

A few years since a scheme was put on foot to get possession of the New York city water-supply. It was a plausible plan; and in order to make it work reflections were cast upon the purity of the present sources. The two yellow papers were roused and vied with each other in exposing the treachery. They had investigations made by competent men and published sworn statements that convinced the people and threw the schemers out.

The activity of the Journal in its opposition to the Remsen gas-steal and its present suit against the Coal-Trust, which is bringing to light the unscrupulous and lawless methods of that oppressive combine, are present-day history.

Yellow journalism is a strong educational force. In the first place it teaches people to read regularly, who have never looked at print before. The great circulations of the yellow journals do not lessen those of other papers, but rather increase them; for the person who has learned to read one paper is apt to buy more.

In gathering the world's news, which is contemporanous history, the yellow journals are stopped by no trouble, staggered by no expense. The Journal has a wire to San Francisco which costs it $300 a day. Both papers keep representatives not only in the prominent cities and countries, as all modern newspapers must, but in the remote corners of the earth. The result is that they obtain the first and the most detailed news from everywhere, sometimes at almost unbelievable cost.

But in addition to the news, the yellow papers constantly record the progress of science, invention and exploration. Every new discovery is chronicled in language so simple that a child of ten or twelve can understand it. The most ignorant classes of the community are kept informed of the work of the leading inventors and the discoveries of the great biologists, chemists, travelers and astronomers. They know something of radium, N-rays and Sir William Ramsey's five new elements.

This puts the mass of the nation in touch with the highest work of the world, thus creating a public sentiment favorable to progress and encouraging the development of science. If there seem to be no relation between the achievements of our scientific men and the approval of the ignorant, it need only be remembered that a few centuries ago every effort to widen human knowledge was met with stern opposition; and the daring man who would add a new contribution to the sum of truth was apt to pay for his hardihood with his life. Gutenberg, Coster, Faust, Pfiester, Castaldi, Mentol and Valdfoghel were all persecuted by their generation because they invented type. That same type has so educated people that to-day X-rays and wireless telegraphy meet a warm and ready welcome. All progress is ultimately based on the intelligence of the majority.

Supplementing its, accounts of actual achievements, the Journal frequently gives, in simple language, the gist of valuable but abstractly-written books by great thinkers. Sometimes the editorial columns of that paper will contain a review of a new scientific or philosophical work of which the majority of people would never otherwise hear. Two summers ago it published serially the entire Life of Jefferson by Thomas E. Watson.

In the course of a year the World and the Journal publish articles from the majority of the leaders of thought in this country, and many from prominent foreigners. Almost every man and woman of note at some time contributes to the yellow press. It would be much easier to give a list of those who never write for these papers than to enumerate those who do.

These articles, which go to the people for a penny, or, in the Sunday edition, for five cents, are often secured at considerable expense. A recently-returned explorer was paid $300 by one of the yellow papers for a Sunday story of about eight hundred words. A much-coveted article from an eminent public man cost the same paper $450. $2,000 a year was offered to a prominent divine for a monthly sermonette of five hundred words; and one dollar a word promised to a famous American author for a thousand-word story. All this matter is given to the public at a price which does not pay for the white paper on which it is printed. It is education for the people, practically free.

Several years ago the Journal sent three boys, one from New York, one from San Francisco and one from Chicago, around the world by different routes, to see which would first make the circuit. The boys were selected by means of a literary and athletic contest in the schools of their respective cities, and each was accompanied on his trip by a reporter. Accounts of their travels were published daily and the countries through which they passed described, thus improving the geographical knowledge of all who followed them. To stimulate interest prizes were given to a boy and a girl in each the three cities who could first guess which contestant would win the race and tell most nearly at what time he would again reach his home. The prizes were trips, - one a ten-days' sojourn at the Buffalo exposition in care of a guardian, all expenses defrayed by the Journal.

Every year thousands of dollars are distributed by the yellow papers as rewards for the display of intelligence. Prizes for puzzles, for the best letter on some subject or the cleverest way of meeting some emergency are continually offered.

Nor is the physical side of education neglected. Exercises are described and illustrated, big prices being paid to specialists for the articles. Food, clothing, the care of children and of the sick, what to do in cold weather and what not to do when it is hot, the care of the hair, the hands and the complexion, all in turn receive the attention of the yellow journals and are discussed, - not in back columns tucked away, but on the editorial page as often as not. Everything is told the people that can help to make them comfortable, healthy, happy and intelligent.

Letters of inquiry on any subject receive careful attention. When necessary money as well as time is spent to acquire the information sought. Each of the yellow journals keeps open, from June till September, a number of " Information Bureaux," to give to the public, free of charge, all that can be known in regard to summer trips, hotels, cottages for rent, etc. Each paper publishes yearly an almanac which is a condensed encyclopaedia.

Morality also receives attention. Not another paper in New York would unite with the Journal in its present active attack on whiskey. For over a year past it has been publishing editorials and cartoons against liquor. For a long time it had a daily record of the crimes and evils traceable to drink, which were chronicled in the day's news. Naturally it has lost all its whiskey advertising, - worth $100,000 a year. Both the World and the Journal are strenuous opponents of cigarettes, at the cost of valuable advertising contracts. These papers continually deal editorially with the various vices of humanity, in language absolutely simple but so forceful that the most careless or hardened must be impressed.

The yellow journals are full of sympathy. They are like human beings, with big, kind hearts. Whenever and where-ever there is trouble they spring to the rescue. When the great Galveston flood brought devastation and death to a whole city, almost overnight the Hearst papers, in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, equipped three full trains with provisions, clothing, medicines, bandages, doctors and nurses and sent them flying across the country to the suffering survivors. The World sent a similar train from New York. Such help, in proportionate measure, has been despatched by either or both of the great yellow papers to the scene of every extensive catastrophe.

In the city the yellow journals are the constant resource of the unfortunate. If a child is stolen, a young girl lured from her home, a husband or wjfe deserts the family, or an aged relative wanders away, the police may fail to locate the missing one; but those bereaved turn, with child like faith, to the yellow journals, which seldom are unable to solve the mystery of the disappearance.

Those who suffer injustices and report their grievances to either of the yellow journals find a prompt and powerful friend. This is realized by the poor, who endure a thousand petty but bitter wrongs. My laundress recently told me of the oppression of one of her neighbors, by an overbearing landlord, and concluded with: "Do you think I'd stand that? Well, I wouldn't! I'd go right straight and tell the Journal!"

All summer long the World and the Journal rival each other in kindness to the poor. The World has a "Fresh-Air Fund," for sending little ones to the country. It receives contributions; but much of the money the paper itself supplies.

During the month of July the Journal gives free excursions to a nearby beach. About a hundred children are taken daily, always under the charge of responsible people. They get the trip, their mid-day meal, a bath in the ocean, a play on the sands and entrance to many of the amusement places with which beaches abound.

A year ago the same paper offered a two-weeks' vacation, at a beach or in the mountains, to the entire family having the largest number of children attending the public-schools of the city. Two families having an equal number (eight, I think) applied. The paper generously rose to the occasion and sent one family to the mountains and the other to the beach for a glorious fortnight.

Each December for several years the Journal has asked all children not expecting a visit from Santa Claus to send in word what toys they want. Every address and request is recorded. On Christmas day, from early morning till late at night the city is traversed by a score of great vans, each loaded with toys, in charge of a Santa Claus. Trip after trip is made and load after load of toys distributed. When all who have written have been supplied the vans drive up and down the poorest streets, bestowing Christmas cheer on every waif of the side-walk. It is because of such kindnesses that the people love the yellow journals and listen to their teachings.

The two principal educational forces in this country are the public-schools and the newspapers. With the young the schools deal more or less successfully. But among the mature we have great masses of people who are densely ignorant. Some have missed school through going to work in childhood; some live in states where the public-schools are very inefficient; and some are immigrants.

We have over two and a quarter millions of males of voting age, classified in the census as "illiterate." We have over a million and a half people above ten years of age who are unable to speak English. Over five millions of our male voters are foreign-born. There are, besides, over a million men of voting-age, who are foreigners yet unnaturalized. Altogether we have a foreign-born population of more than ten and a quarter millions; and it is being tremendously increased every year. Nearly a million immigrants came in last year, and no lessening of the tide is at present reported.

Nor is this foreign element homogeneous. All the principal countries of the world contribute to it. Russian Jews, Italians, Germans, Irish, Poles, Hungarians, Greeks and Assyrians alike come to the United States and amalgamate with the American nation. Some of our immigrants are intelligent, high-class people, the best their native lands can supply. But many are illiterate and crushed peasants, needing training of every sort. All require to be taught American ideas and ideals.

We have, too, an enormous native population on a very low level of intelligence. Many who can read and write, and thus escape the classification "illiterate," are still extremely ignorant. Yet, if men, they can vote and help to determine the destiny of the nation. Altogether the foreign and the ignorant comprise the bulk of the American people.

The principal problem that confronts us in our struggle to develop an American democracy, is the education and uplifting of this vast mass. We meet the question of enlightening children with our compulsory education acts; but we cannot force knowledge upon grown people.

Theories of every sort are constantly advanced; but the one institution that is successfully coping with this problem, day after day, and getting practical results, is the yellow journal. It gives the people what they want, - sensation, crime and vulgar sports, - thus inducing them to read. But having secured its audience, it teaches them, simply, clearly, patiently, the lessons they need.

Undeniably the yellow journals are not "nice" and "proper." But neither are the people they are intended to reach. When a new employee begins work on one of the yellow papers his first experience is apt to be an interview with the editor-in-chief, during which the tactics and purposes of the paper are explained to him.

"We don't think our paper is 'nice,'" says the editor. "But we do know it reaches the people. It is our intention to teach the people, and the first step is to get them to listen to us. We believe that it is better to raise a whole city one inch than to hoist a few men or women ten feet in the air."

That is the principle of yellow journalism. It appeals to two classes of people, - those who need it and those who understand it. There remain many who disapprove, either because they have a superficial acquaintance with the papers they criticise or because they judge everything in the world by its relation to themselves.

There are literary papers enough, but who in the tenements reads them? No one; for they are written only for the educated, in utter disregard of the great majority who most need instruction. Their very language puts them beyond the comprehension of any but the fairly educated.

The literary law of the yellow journals, on the contrary, is simplicity and vividness. To the World employes Mr. Pulitzer says: "Write every sentence so that the most ignorant man on the Bowery can understand it," and the primary mandate of the Journal is "Simplify!"

Thus, in the adult kindergarten of yellow journalism, the great underlying mass of the nation, formerly unconsidered and untaught, are prepared for the duties of American citizenship.

Lydia Kingsmill Commander.

New York, N. Y.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Associated Press, by Melville Stone




WITH the accession of Mr. William Henry Smith to the office of general manager of the Associated Press, less than twenty-five years ago, there came a change for the better in the administration. The Western papers which had been admitted to a share in the management demanded more enterprise and a report of more varied character. The policy of limiting the field to "routine news" - sport, markets, shipping, etc. - was abandoned, and the institution began to show evidences of real journalistic life and ability. It startled the newspaper world by occasionally offering exclusive and well-written items of general interest. When Mr. Elaine was closing what promised to be a successful political campaign in 1884, it was an Associated Press man who shattered all precedents, as well as the candidate's hopes, by reporting Dr. Burchard's disastrous "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion" speech. This was then an unheard-of display of enterprise.

Two years later, the same reporter scored again. He had been sent to Mount McGregor with many others to report General Grant's last illness. He was shrewd enough to arrange in advance with the doctor for prompt information of the final event. A system of signals had been agreed upon, and when, one day, the doctor sauntered out upon the veranda of the Drexel cottage and drew a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his hands, the reporter knew that the general was dead and telegraphed the fact throughout the world. For months afterward it was spoken of with wonder as the Associated Press "scoop."


Then came the Samoan disaster, in 1885, and with it a disclosure that an Associated Press man might not only be capable of securing exclusive news, but might also be able to write it in a creditable way. Mr. John P. Dunning of the San Francisco bureau happened to be in Apia when the great storm broke over the islands. In the roadstead were anchored three American war-vessels, the Trenton, Nipsic, and Vandalia; three German warships, the Adler, Olga, and Eber; and the British cruiser Calliope. All of the American and German ships were driven upon the coral reefs and destroyed, involving the loss of one hundred and fifty lives. The Calliope, a more modern vessel with superior engines, was able to escape. As she pushed her way into the heavy sea, in the teeth of the hurricane, the jackies of the Trenton dressed ship, while her band played the British national anthem. It was a profoundly tragic salutation from those about to die.

Mr. Dunning's graphic story, which will long be accepted as a masterpiece of descriptive literature, was mailed to San Francisco, and a month later was published by the newspapers of the Associated Press. It was a revelation to those who had long believed the organization incapable of producing anything more exciting than a market quotation. It was also an inspiration to those who were to succeed Mr. Smith in the administration of the business. It revealed the possibilities in store for the association.

In the earlier days telegraphic facilities were so limited and the cost of messages was so great that it was necessary to report everything in the briefest form. It was enough that the facts were disclosed, and little heed was paid to the manner of presentation. Moreover, a great majority of those writing the despatches were telegraph operators, destitute of literary training.

The advantages of an Associated Press newspaper were very great. It was scarcely possible for a competitor to make headway against the obstacles which he was compelled to face. Not only was the burden of expense enormous, but the telegraph company which was in close alliance with the association frequently delayed his service, or refused to transmit it at any price. It followed that the quantity of news which an editor was able to furnish his readers became the measure of his enterprise and ability. It was his proudest boast that his paper printed "all the news." James Gordon Bennett, St., of the New York "Herald," and Wilbur F. Storey of the Chicago "Times," set the pace, and won much fame by lavish expenditures for telegrams, which were often badly written.


As new cables were laid, and land wires were extended, and rival telegraph companies appeared, the cost of messages was reduced, and there came a demand for better writing and better editing. The hour for selection in news had arrived. It was obvious that no editor could any longer print all the information offered him, and it was equally evident that the reader, whose range of vision had been surprisingly widened by the modern means of communication, had neither time nor inclination to read it all. Editors who could and would edit were required. Newspapers presenting a carefully prepared perspective of the day's history of the world were needed.

Thus was clearly outlined the path along which the Associated Press must travel. Its resources were unlimited. Through its foreign alliances, it had a representative at every point of interest abroad; and, through its own membership, it was able to cover every part of the United States. It was only necessary to organize, educate, and utilize these forces. Strong men, specially trained for the work in hand, must be chosen, and stationed at strategic points. The ordinary correspondent would not do; indeed, as a rule, he of all men was least fitted for Associated Press work. Writing for a single newspaper, he might follow the editorial bias of his journal; and even though he was inexact, his statements were likely to pass unchallenged. In writing for the Associated Press any departure from strict accuracy and impartiality was certain to be discovered.

But the strategic points were not the only ones to be looked after. News of the highest importance, requiring for its proper treatment the best literary skill, was sure to develop in the most remote quarters. To find men in these out-of-the-way spots, imbued with the American idea of journalistic enterprise, and qualified to see an event in its proper proportions and to describe it adequately and vividly, was a serious undertaking. Yet the thing must be done, if the ideal service was to be reached.


Within the limits of the United States, the task was a comparatively easy one. Here men of the required character were obtainable. It was only necessary to select them with care and to drill them to promptness, scrupulous accuracy, impartiality, and a graphic style. So wide-spread is American education that it was soon discovered that the best men could usually be found in the villages and the smaller cities. They were more sincere, better informed, and less "bumptious" than the journalistic Gascons so frequently employed on the metropolitan press.

For the foreign field, greater obstacles were presented. Our methods were not European methods, and the Europeans were not news-mad peoples. At the best; the contributions of any news-agency to the columns of any foreign newspaper were exceedingly limited and prosaic. This is particularly true upon the Continent, where the journals devote themselves chiefly to well-written political leaders and feuilletons, and where news has a distinctly secondary place.

I took up the subject with the chiefs of the foreign agencies. Fortunately, in Baron Herbert de Reuter, head of the great company which bears his name, I found a sympathetic ally. During twelve years of intimate intercourse with him, he has shown at all times journalistic qualities of a very high order. A man of brilliant intellect, scholarly, modest, having a keen sense of the immense responsibility of his office, but of nervous temperament and tireless energy, he has shared every impulse to reach a higher level of excellence in the service. With his cooperation and that of Dr. Mantler, chief of the German agency, a zealous and efficient manager, but lacking the encouragement and stimulus of a news-reading and news-demanding public, substantial progress was made. The object desired was a correct perspective of the daily history of the world.

The end could not be reached at a single bound. Long-continued effort and the exercise of no small degree of patience were necessary. What has been done may perhaps best be illustrated by a few examples. When Mr. Chamberlain resigned from Mr. Balfour's ministry two years ago, it was the Associated Press in London which gave this news to the world; and when the Alaskan Commission was summoned to meet in London in the autumn of 1903, the keenest interest in its deliberations was manifested in both countries, and the efforts of the Associated Press were naturally bent on keeping its readers fully informed of the deliberations of the commission. A few minutes after the final decision of the commission was reached, one Saturday evening, it had been flashed across the Atlantic. No official confirmation of this fact was obtainable in England until the meeting of the commission on Monday; but so implicit was the confidence felt in the news which had been published in America by the Associated Press that the English papers accepted its statements as true.


On the afternoon of September 6, 1901, worn out by a long period of exacting labor, I set out for Philadelphia, with the purpose of spending a few days at Atlantic City. When I reached the Broad-street station in the Quaker City, I was startled by a number of policemen crying my name. I stepped up to one, who pointed to a boy with an urgent message for me. President McKinley had been shot at Buffalo, and my presence was required at our Philadelphia office at once. A message had been sent to me at Trenton, but my train had left the station precisely two minutes ahead of its arrival. Handing my baggage to a hotel porter, I jumped into a cab and dashed away to our office. I remained there until dawn of the following morning.

The opening pages of the story of the assassination were badly written, and I ordered a substitute prepared. An inexperienced reporter stood beside President McKinley in the Music-hall at Buffalo when Czolgosz fired the fatal shot. He seized a neighboring telephone and notified our Buffalo correspondent, and then pulled out the wires, in order to render the telephone a wreck, so that it was a full half-hour before any additional details could be secured.

I ordered competent men and expert telegraph operators from Washington, Albany, New York, and Boston to harry to Buffalo by the fastest trains. All that night the Buffalo office was pouring forth a hastily written, but faithful and complete account of the tragedy, and by daybreak a relief force was on the ground. Day by day, through the long vigil while the President's life hung in the balance, each incident was truthfully and graphically reported. In the closing hours of the great tragedy false reports of the President's death were circulated for the purpose of influencing the stock-market, and, to counteract them, Secretary Cortelyou wrote frequent signed statements, giving the facts to the Associated Press.


On the night of May 3, 1902, a brief telegram from St. Thomas, Danish West Indies, reported that Mont Pelee, the volcano on the island of Martinique, was in eruption, and that the town of St. Pierre was enveloped in a fog and covered with ashes an inch deep. Cable communication was cut off. The following morning 1 set about securing the facts. We had two correspondents on the island, one at St. Pierre and the other at Fort de France, nine miles away; but clearly neither of these could be reached.

Fortunately, investigation disclosed that an old friend, a talented newspaper man, was the United States consul at Guadeloupe, an island only twelve hours distant. I instantly appealed to the State Department at Washington to give him a leave of absence, and, when this was granted, I cabled him to charter a boat and go to St. Pierre at once, add secure and transmit an adequate report. The Associated Press men at St. Vincent, St. Thomas, Porto Rico, Barbados, Trinidad, and St. Lucia were instructed to hurry forward any information that might reach them, and to endeavor to get to Martinique by any available means. St. Thomas alone was able to respond with a short telegram, three days later, announcing the destruction of the Martinique sugar-factories, which were only two miles distant from St. Pierre. The despatch also reported the loss of one hundred and fifty lives, and the existence of a panic at St. Pierre because of the condition of the volcano, which was now in full eruption and threatening everything on the island. Mr. Aym6, the consul at Guadeloupe, found difficulty in chartering a boat, but finally succeeded, and, after a thrilling and dangerous night run through a thick cloud of falling ashes and cinders, arrived before the ill-fated city. The appalling character of the catastrophe was then disclosed. Thirty thousand people, the population of the town, had been buried under a mass of hot ashes; one single human being had escaped. It was enough to make the stoutest heart grow faint.

But Ayme was a trained reporter, inured by long experience to trying scenes; and he set to work promptly to meet the responsibility which had been laid upon him. Our St. Pierre man had gone to his death on the common pyre, but Mr. Ivanes, the Associated Press correspondent at Fort de France, survived. With him Mr. Ayme joined effort, and, with great courage and at serious risk, they went over the blazing field and gathered the gruesome details of the disaster. Then Mr. Ayme wrote his story, returned to the cable-station at Guadeloupe, and sent it. It was a splendid piece of work, worthy of the younger Pliny, whose story of a like calamity at Pompeii has come down to us through two thousand years. It filled a page of the American newspapers on the morning of May 11, and was telegraphed to Europe. It was the first adequate account given to the world. Mr. Ayme returned to Martinique and spent three weeks in further investigation, leaving his post of duty only when the last shred of information had been obtained and transmitted. As a result of his terrible experience, his health was impaired, and, although he was given a prolonged leave of absence, he has never recovered. It cost the Associated Press over $30,000 to report this event.


The illness and death of the late Pope constituted another event which called for news-gathering ability of a high order. Preparations had been made long in advance. Conferences were held with the Italian officials and with the authorities at the Vatican, all looking to the establishment of relations of such intimacy as to guarantee us the news. We had been notified by the Italian Minister of Telegraphs that, because of the strained relations existing between his government and the papal court, he should forbid the transmission of any telegrams announcing the Pope's death for two hours after the fatal moment, in order that Cardinal Rampolla might first notify the papal representatives in foreign countries. This was done as a gracious act of courtesy to the church.

To meet the emergency, we arranged a code message to be sent by all cable-lines, which should be addressed, not to the Associated Press, but to the general manager in person, and should read: "Number of missing bond, _______. (Signed) Montefiore." This bore on its face no reference to the death of the Pontiff, and would be transmitted. The blank was to be filled with the hour and moment of the Pope's death, reversed. That is, if he died at 2 :53, the message would read: "Melstone, New York. Number of missing bond, 352. (Signed) Montefiore." The object of reversing the figures was, of course, to prevent a guess that it was a deception in order to convey the news. If the hour had been properly written, they might have suspected the purport of the message.

When, finally, the Pope died, although his bed was completely surrounded by burning candles, an attendant hurried from the room into an anteroom and called for a candle to pass before the lips of the dying man, to determine whether he still breathed. This was the signal for another attache, who stepped to the telephone and announced to our correspondent, two miles away, that the Pope was dead. Unfortunately, the hour of his death was four minutes past four, so that whichever way it was written, whether directly or the reverse, it was 404.

Nevertheless, the figures were inserted in the blank in the bulletin which had been prepared, it was filed with the telegraph company, and it came through to New York in exactly nine minutes from the moment of death. It was relayed at Havre, and again at the terminal of the French Cable Company in New York, whence it came to our office on a short wire. The receiving operator there shouted the news to the entire operating-room of the Associated Press, and every man on every key on every circuit out of New York flashed the announcement that the Pope had died at four minutes past four; so that the fact was known in San .Francisco within eleven minutes after its actual occurrence.

The Reuter, Havas, and Wolff agents located in our office in New York retransmitted the announcement to London, Paris, and Berlin, giving those cities their first news of the event. A comparison of the report of the London "Times" with that of any morning paper in the United States on the day following the death of the Pope would show that, both as to cjuantity and quality, our report was vastly superior. The London "Times" had a column and a half; the New York "Times" had a page of the graphic story of the scenes in and about the Vatican. The New York "Times" story was ours. This was so notable an event that it occasioned comment throughout the world.

During the illness of the Pope I ordered a number of the best men from our London, Paris, and Vienna offices to Rome to assist our resident men. The advantage of such an arrangement was that the London men were in close touch with church dignitaries of England, while our representatives from France and Vienna had their immediate circle of acquaintances among the church dignitaries of those countries. The result was that Mr. Cortesi, the chief of our Roman office, was perfectly familiar with the local surroundings and was on intimate terms with Drs. Lapponi and Mazzoni of the Vatican, as well as with the other resident officials of the church, and was always able to command attention from them. Besides, he had not only the advantage of the assistance of trained men from our other European offices, but he had also the advantage of their acquaintance. We were enabled day by day to present an extraordinary picture of the scenes at the Vatican, and day by day the bulletins upon the condition of the Holy Father were transmitted with amazing rapidity. The death-bed scenes at Buffalo, when President McKinley was lying ill at the Milburn house, were reported with no greater degree of promptness and no greater detail. The funeral scenes were also covered in a remarkably ample way, and with astounding rapidity. Then came the conclave for the election of a new pope. It was to be secret, and every effort was made to prevent its proceedings from becoming public. A brick wall was constructed about the hall to prevent any one having access to it. But, to the amazement of every one, the Associated Press had a daily report of all that happened. One of the members of the Noble Guard was an Associated Press man. Knowing the devotion of the average Italian for the dove, he took with him into the conclave chamber his pet dove, which was a homing pigeon trained to go to our office. But Cardinal Rampolla could not be deceived: he ordered the pigeon killed. Other plans, however, were more successful. Laundry lists sent out with the soiled linen of a cardinal, and a physician's prescriptions sent to a pharmacy, proved to be code messages which were deciphered in our office. We were enabled not only to give a complete and accurate story of the happenings within the conclave chamber, but we announced the election of the new Pope, which occurred about 11 A.m. in Rome, so promptly that, owing to the difference in time, it was printed in the morning papers of San Francisco of that day. We were also enabled to send the announcement back to Europe before it was received from Rome direct, and it was our message that was printed in all the European capitals. The Italian authorities did not interfere with these messages.


Of late years the international yacht races off Sandy Hook have, as a rule, been reported by wireless telegraphy. Stations have been erected on Long Island and on the coast of New Jersey, and a fast-going yacht, equipped with Marconi apparatus, has followed the racers. A running story, transmitted through the air to the coast, has been instantly relayed by land wires to the main office of the association in New York, and thence distributed over the country. Such a report of the contest costs over $25,000.


"Presidential years" are always trying ones for the management. In 1896 the friends of Speaker Reed were incensed because we were unable to see that a majority of the delegates to the Republican National Convention were Reed men. Not that I think they really believed this; but everything is accounted fair in the game of politics, and they thought it would help their cause if the Associated Press would announce each delegation, on its selection, as for Reed. They appealed to me; but of course I could not misstate the facts, and they took great umbrage. The St. Louis Convention, when it assembled, verified our declarations, for Mr. Reed's vote was insignificant.

The national conventions are our first care. Preparations begin months before they assemble. Rooms are engaged at all the leading hotels, so that Associated Press men may be in touch with every delegation. The plans of the convention hall are examined, and arrangements are made for operating-room and seats. The wires of the association are carried into the building, and a work-room is usually located beneath the platform of the presiding officer. A private passage is cut, connecting this work-room with the reporters' chairs, which are placed directly in front of the stand occupied by speakers, and inclosed by a rail to prevent interference from the surging masses certain to congregate in the neighborhood.

A week before the convention opens, a number of Associated Press men are on the ground to report the assembling of the delegates, to sound them as to their plans and preferences,'and to indicate the trend of the gathering in their despatches as well as they may. The National Committee holds its meeting in advance of the convention, decides upon a roll of members, and names a presiding officer. All this is significant, and is often equivalent to a determination of the party candidates.

Of the convention itself, the Associated Press makes three distinct reports. A reporter sits in the hall and dictates to an operator who sends out bulletins. These follow the events instantly, are necessarily very brief, and are often used by the newspapers to post on bulletin-boards. There is also a graphic running story of the proceedings. This is written by three men, seated together, each writing for ten minutes and then resting twenty. The copy is hastily edited by a fourth man, so that it may harmonize. This report is usually printed by afternoon papers. Finally, there is a verbatim report, which is printed by the large metropolitan dailies. A corps of expert stenographers, who take turns in the work, is employed. As a delegate rises in any part of the hall, one of these stenographers dashes to his side and reports his utterances. He then rushes to the workroom and dictates his notes to a rapid type-writer, while another stenographer replaces him upon the convention floor. The nominating speeches are usually furnished by their authors weeks in advance, and are in type in the newspaper offices awaiting their delivery and release.

The men who report these conventions are drawn from all the principal offices of the Associated Press. Coming from different parts of the country, they are personally acquainted with a large majority of the delegates. There is a close division of labor: certain men are assigned to write bulletins; others to do descriptive work; still others to prepare introductory summaries; a number to watch and report the proceedings of secret committees; and a force of "scouts" to keep in close touch with the party leaders, and learn of projects the instant that they begin to mature. Out of it all comes a service which puts the newspaper reader of the country in instant and constant possession of every developing fact and gives him a pen-picture of every scene. Indeed, he has a better grasp of the situation than if he were present in the convention hall.

When the candidates are named and the platforms adopted the campaign opens, and for several months the Associated Press faces steadily increasing responsibilities. The greatest care is observed to maintain an attitude of strict impartiality, and yet to miss no fact of interest. If a candidate, or one of the great party leaders, makes a "stumping journey," stenographers and descriptive writers must accompany him. While Mr. Bryan was "on tour," it was his practice to speak hurriedly from the rear platform of his train, and instantly to leave for the next appointment. While he was speaking, the Associated Press stenographer was taking notes. When the train started, these notes were dictated to a type-writer, and at the next stopping-point were handed over to a waiting local Associated Press man, who put the speech on the telegraph wires. In the general offices records are kept of the number of words sent out, so that at the end of the campaign the volume of Republican and Democratic speeches reported is expected to balance.

Finally, the work of Election Day is mapped out in advance with scrupulous care, and each correspondent in the country has definite instructions as to the part he is to play. On Election Day brief bulletins on the condition of the weather in every part of the nation, and on the character of the voting, are furnished to the afternoon papers. The moment the polls close, the counting begins. Associated Press men everywhere are gathering precinct returns and hurrying them to county headquarters, where they are hastily added, and the totals for the county on Presidential electors are wired to the State headquarters of the association. The forces of men at these general offices are augmented by the employment of expert accountants and adding-machines from the local banks, and the labor is so subdivided that last year the result of the contest was announced by eight o'clock in the evening, and at midnight a return, virtually accurate, of the majority in every State was presented to the newspapers. It was the first occasion on which the result of an American general election was transmitted to Europe in time to appear in the London morning papers of the day succeeding the election.


If I were not what Mr. Gladstone once called "an old parliamentary hand," if I had not given and taken the buffets of aggressive American journalism for many years, and if Heaven had not blessed me with a certain measure of the saving grace of humor, I think 1 should have been sent to an early grave by the unreasonable and unfair attacks made upon my administration of the Associated Press news service. In the exciting Presidential campaign of 1896, Senator Jones, the Democratic national chairman, openly charged me with favoring the Republicans; while Mr. Hanna, his opponent, was at the point of breaking a long-time personal friendship because he regarded me as distinctly "pro-Bryan." The truth is, both men had lost their balance; neither was capable of a judicial view; each wanted, not an impartial service, but one which would help his side. Fortunately, the candidates preserved a better poise than their lieutenants. At the close of the campaign both Bryan and McKinley wrote me that they were impressed with the impartiality which we had observed.

A former senator of New York controlled a paper at Albany and named one of his secretaries as its editor. Then trouble began to brew. Day after day I was plied with letters charging me with unfairness. Every time we reported a speech of President Roosevelt's I was accused of favoring the Republicans, while the failure to chronicle the result of an insignificant ward caucus in New Jersey was clear evidence that I was inimical to the Democrats. I patiently investigated each complaint, and explained that there were limitations upon the volume of our service; that the utterances of any incumbent of the Presidential office must properly be reported, while the result of a ward caucus must be ignored, if we were to give any heed to their relative news values. Still the young man was not happy, and, when I had done all that reason or courtesy required, I notified the senator, who had been inspiring the criticisms, that "I must decline to walk the floor with his infant any longer." That ended the matter.

During a congressional inquiry, a number of trade-unionists appeared and testified for days in denunciation of the Associated Press, because they conceived it to be unfriendly to their cause. More recently, but with equal injustice, the secretary of the Citizens' Industrial Association has been pelting me with letters charging our association with favoring organized labor.

When we reported the death of the late Pope in a manner befitting his exalted station, a number of Methodist newspapers gravely asserted that I was a Catholic, or controlled by Vatican influences, although, as a matter of fact, my father was a Methodist clergyman and my mother the grandniece of a coadjutor of John Wesley. On the other hand, not long since, when the Associated Press reported the Marquise des Monstiers's renunciation of the Catholic faith, certain Catholic newspapers flew into a rage and asserted that I was an anti-Catholic bigot.

The more frequent criticisms, however, result from want of knowledge of the true mission of the organization. Many persons, unfamiliar with newspaper methods, mistake special telegrams for Associated Press service, and hold us to an undeserved responsibility. Many others, having "axes to grind," and quite willing to pay for the grinding, find it difficult to believe that not only does the association do no grinding, but by the very nature of its methods such grinding is made impossible. The man who would pay the Associated Press for " booming" his project would be throwing his money away. Any man in the service of the association, from the general manager to the humblest employee, who should attempt to "boom '' a project would be instantly discovered, disgraced, and dismissed.

The four years' struggle with the United Press was waged over this principle. Victor F. Lawson of the Chicago "Daily News," Charles W. Knapp of the St. Louis "Republic," Frederick Driscoll of the St. Paul "Pioneer Press," and those associated with them in that contest, deserve the lasting gratitude of the American people for having established, at a vast cost of time, labor, and money, a method of news-gathering and distribution free from a chance of contamination. Seven hundred newspapers, representing every conceivable view of every public question, sit in judgment upon the Associated Press despatches. A representative of each of these papers has a vote in the election of the management. Every editor is jealously watching every line of the report. It must be obvious that any serious departure from an honest and impartial service would arouse a storm of indignation which would overwhelm any administration.