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European and American Press Compared
10 per cent. of the total news space was material. It is significant, however, that taken by crime news. His figure is some of the greatest and most continuous surprising in view of the criticism that too newspaper successes in this country have much space was devoted to crime news, been journals of temperate, non-sensational and it gives some evidence that the type. The newspaper should not become criticism was based on the impression merely a compendium of information of created by the orgies of sensationalism, ephemeral usefulness; news of human rather than upon the general presentation interest is as vital and useful to the of crime news. In view of the large reading public as that which is deadly dull, numbers of murders and violent crimes in or, as the need is stated by E. Lansing this country, as compared with other Ray of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat: countries, the percentage is very small. France devotes 8 per cent. of her news
News, whatever its character, is information. space to crime or police news; England, value, and it is a fixed quality of human nature
A great deal of news is information without 6; and Germany, 3; so that we are not
that makes news that appeals to the emotions so bad by comparison,
more attractive than that which appeals to the There is much to be said in defense of mind. But even as heart and mind are conour newspapers, even in their handling of joined in everybody, both being necessary to crime news. They are no worse than normal life, so the news of sentiment and of many of the English newspapers, and sense must be conjoined in the newspaper if it much better than the German, French, is to reflect the life of the day correctly, and and Italian; but we should not rate our
give to its readers the balanced rations of newspapers, and, therefore, excuse their
information which their natures seek and
require. faults, under the standards of other
The newspaper, in other words, should print countries, but hold them to a higher
the news that is of public interest, of any standard which should be theirs by virtue
character that is fit to print, including of their strength, their freedom, and the
primarily the news that contains instructive high privileges, duties, and responsibilities and constructive information, but not exbestowed upon them in this democracy. cluding news that is mere entertainment or
In fact, there are many excuses for mere response to the innate demand for the American newspapers. Trials are longer dramatic and the abnormal, unless it is in this country, and our lax system of published for a special class. The first administering justice permits newspapers
essential of a newspaper is that it be interesting. to take liberties in comment and news
Unless it is it will have few readers, and
without readers it has no public value. presentation which would call forth heavy
But it must acquire the confidence of its fines in England. Our newspapers do,
readers if it is to retain them and have any however, take many liberties without
influence upon them. That confidence can thinking of the rights of the individuals only be obtained by the general reliability of concerned. If the press is sincere in its the news and opinion it supplies. Truth in recent codification of ethics it should seek the news is the most difficult of all accomplishremedies, not excuses.
ments, nor is it easy to maintain accuracy and
fairness in the expression of opinion, but the THE FUNCTION OF THE PRESS newspaper that makes the nearest approach to PRESS must mirror its time, or it is
truth at all times lays the strongest foundation not a worthy press. Therefore, we
of power and of permanence, and is the best
agency of public service. must have a larger proportion of crime news, because we have more crime than It is regrettable but true that in recent other countries have. Moreover, a press years the American newspaper has taken must meet the wishes of its public, but the no real step toward the development of a tendency in this country is to under- conscience or of a feeling of responsibility,
a estimate the intelligence and taste of the for the ultimate result or effect of much. newspaper-reading public and then to the news it prints. In this respect it seeds, oversupply it with inferior and sensational instead, that the press is retrogresie.
and that its code almost universally cabin door with his foot, and thus forcing seems to be to print the news and let the an interview with the woman inside, someconsequences fall where they may. The where in his editorial rooms hangs this newspapers have plenty of independence, beautiful sentiment from the code of ethics: without the stabilizing effect of a realization that what they say and the way they
A newspaper should not invade private say it in their news stories, and particu
rights or feelings without sure warrant of larly in stories of human error, has an
public right as distinguished from public
curiosity. incalculable effect upon the moral thought of the nation. Frankness is one thing, It is no defense of our method of handprurience another.
ling the sensational It is true that the
crime news to say American Society of The Function of the Newspaper
that as much was Newspaper Editors
printed on the Fiskhas formulated its A free newspaper is an enterprise that is Stokes murder case code of ethics, or
privately operated and performs a public
a half century ago as canons of journalwill of the people for its support. Their
on the Hall-Mills ism, for the profes constitutions protect its freedom and in the murder case, or as sion, but so far the
exercise of its freedom it is accountable to
much on the codification of these public duty.
Beecher-Tilden case ideals seems to have To find the facts, to publish the facts, is its
as upon the Stillman had little effect
primary function, its constant responsibility,
case. If the press is upon American
facts, to stimulate thought about them, to to apologize for its journalism. One
provoke discussion, to reflect opinion, to
present sins by section of the code,
things a free press must strive to do in matching them with headed “Decency,
addition, if it would be a teacher, an in the follies of the reads as follows:
terpreter, and a leader of the free men it was
past, then the But the interpretation offered, the thought
standards of jourA newspaper can stimulated, the discussion provoked, the nalism are already not escape conviction opinion reflected, directed, or organized,
must upon each occasion possess a foundation on the way down of insincerity if, while
of fact, not of falsehood, and not of opinion hill and, if this philprofessing high moral or emotion dressed up to pass as fact.
osophy is to prevail, purpose, it supplies in James T. Williams, Jr., editor of the Boston centives to base conTranscript, in the Quill, official organ of
a half century hence duct, such as are to
Sigma Delta Chi, honorary journalism we may have a
fraternity, be found in details of
debased and decrime aná vice, publi
bauched press that cation of which is not
has lost all public demonstrably for the general good. Lacking respect and confidence and all power of authority to enforce its canons, the journalism accomplishing any good work for the here represented can but express the hope that public welfare. deliberate pandering to vicious instincts will
The press of this country needs a new encounter effective public disapproval or
point of view, especially upon its reyield to the influence of a preponderant professional condemnation.
sponsibilities. Arrogantly it expresses
the opinion that it is the most powerful That section reads well, but the truth force in the creation of a public opinion, is that there is as yet no "preponderant and with that high conception of its professional condemnation” or “effective' importance it immediately proceeds to public disapproval.” The dragoons of fulfill its recognized functions by printing the press still ride wild, flaunting the trivialities and banalities, and by going ethics of their profession—if, indeed, the to every extreme to stimulate, and then business can be called a profession-and to satiate public curiosity. occasionally even flaunting the law. The main part of the local news-gatherWhile one dragoon is blocking a ship's ing machines of most of our newspapers,
News Useful and Sensational
is that assigned to the task of gathering Indeed, the majority of our newspapers the news of human error, or sensational make honest and sincere efforts to be news. Police reporters outnumber those useful. In the case of radio news, for of any other class on most newspapers, instance, our newspapers printed columns except on the larger metropolitan news every day long before the radio advertispapers, where the largest number of ers entered their columns to any great reporters do any sort of general reporting, extent. They may be wrong in their including stories of human error. It is judgment at times, but they make every true that a large proportion of local news effort to surfeit the public appetite. In does originate at those two universal the case of useful news, there is no harm public institutions, the police station in surfeiting this appetitite; in the case and the police court, but it is also true of sensational news of human error, there that news is not sought with such avidity is a menace in surfeiting this appetite, in other places where the news is not and they are more likely to go to an of such melodramatic interest. Many extreme on this emotional news than on of the larger newspapers, of course, do any other. One newspaper fears to stop make a thorough attempt to get all before the others. classes of news, but the smaller and
OF VALUE TO THE COMMUNITY weaker newspapers retain their police re
. NE newspaper making a notable effort to be useful in its
community is least one newspaper is trying its best to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which reprepresent all classes of news, and has sup sents the highest type of journalistic ideals plemented the archaic police reporter and editorship. E. C. Hopwood, editor of system with a staff of men who hunt other the Plain Dealer, had a careful record news of great public interest. These made of the first page stories printed in newspapers excel in the presentation of his newspaper last
his newspaper last January and the business news. In a recent address to a figures were: group of London journalists, L.C.M.S.
Foreign affairs, 21 articles; national govAmery, for many years a member of the
ernment, 28 articles; city government—we had staff of the London Times, pointed out just started out under a new charter-34 the extraordinary interest displayed by articles; crime, 16 articles; national politics, the American press in business and 12; accidents, 8; general news not classified financial news, an interest that is much further, but not pertaining to any of the more noticeable to a foreigner, because our preceding classes, 89 articles. Crime and acnewspapers are far ahead of most other cident, the so-called destructive news, thus countries in the presentation of newse obtained a footing on page 1 with 24 articles, useful to business. Even the sensational
as compared with a total of 184 constructive press, except the tabloids, are forced by That is ideal and unusual. The Plain the public demand to print some of this Dealer is the only morning newspaper class of news and information.
in Cleveland. It could supply any kind
of paper it wanted. It chooses to supply DIVISION OF NEWS SPACE
a newspaper clean in appearance, exN HIS tabulation, Mr. Riis found that pression, and thought, and does not suffer
because of its ideals. It is an outstanding by business news. That was the largest example of a newspaper which does not class, due of course to the financial tables underestimate the intelligence and tastes and similar statistics. He found that of its reading public. the German newspapers devoted 30 In the sadly neglected field of educaper cent. of their space to news of this tional news the Plain Dealer is an exkind, but the press of no other country ample. In his examination of his group passed ours in the proportionate amount of typical newspapers, Mr. Riis, found of space devoted to this class of news. that less than i per cent. of the total
man can hardly be blamed for being shy | pers than too many. The weak news
news space was devoted to education, With some newspapers, like the Plain and what can be more important? Dealer, the main purpose is to supply Educational news cannot be dramatized, the news of an informative or useful kind; it is true, but it can be important even with others the main purpose is to furnish when the dramatic elements are missing. the news that is of the emotional, abTwo Plain Dealer reporters devote most normal, or thrilling type. of their time to school news. One re In fact, newspapers in this country porter "covers" the headquarters, and may be divided into two classes, though another hunts stories in the schools. with countless gradations of merit and Few other metropolitan newspapers cover grossness in the classes. One class comthe school system
prises newspapers so adequately, or
which recognize bring it closer to "An editor is the uncrowned king of an that their chief duty the reading public. educated democracy. The range of his
is to publish news “The school man power is limited only by the extent of his
that will inform the knowledge, the quality rather than the is frankly suspicious quantity of his circulation, and the faculty
public, and not necof the reporters, and force which he can bring to the work
essarily thrill. The fearful that his poliof government."
aim of this first class cies and methods
-W. T. STEAD of newspaper is best may be misunder
expressed in that stood or misrepre
well-known motto sented in the newspaper,” wrote Fred of the New York Times, “All the News Charles of the Plain Dealer in a recent That's Fit to Print," though in many article in the Journal of the National cases some of the news that was fit to Education Association.
print only in guarded language actually And why is this? Merely because the was printed with a grossness of expression school man has had so much experience and insinuation that would not have been with the dragoons of the press that he has tolerated a few years previously. become accustomed to guarding his utter The aim of the second class of newspaances. Even now, in some cities, his pers is to print the news with the "kick,” only visits from the reporters are when a the “punch,” the “pep"-news not as inteacher has eloped with the big boy in formation, but as an intoxicant intended her class or the principal has been beaten to give a thrill, an emotional effect. by one of the students, or some scandal
LOOKING TOWARD A GOOD FUTURE or row has been reported. The school
IT IS far better to have too few newspaof reporters; he has known only the dragoons. As Mr. Charles writes: paper will not only print stories it might re
This suspicion of the teacher toward the ject or at least use with more discretion if it newspaper worker is the greatest obstacle to
were stronger, but it will also accept advereffective school publicity. For effective school
tisements which ought to be rejected. publicity does not consist of an occasional The American press is undoubtedly the frenzied splurge or campaign to get a bond is finest and freest in the world, but it could sue “put over” but a day-by-day presenta be infinitely finer and freer if it developed tion of the schools as they really are.
a conscience to match its power. Its reverThe American people believe in, and will sions to barbarism now are too frequent, support to the limit
, their public schools, especially in the gathering of news. It has but their support is predicated upon their understanding. They will vote your bond issues
developed a conscience in its presentation and your tax levies when they are convinced
of advertising much more rapidly than in that the welfare of their children is at stake.
its presentation of news. There is no doubt They will not forever vote money for ginger- that it will develop that conscience in time, bread ornaments on schoolhouses, or for pur and that its dragoons will learn to use poses which they cannot understand.
their heads more and their feet less.
Do You Buy From a “Chain”?
Three Billion Dollars Spent Last Year in These Stores.
BY A MEMBER OF THE “WORLD'S WORK” STAFF
LL those that patronize some operating 3,232 stores. Last year (1923)
kind of chain store, please there were more than 10,000 A & P stores raise their hands."
scattered through every one of the fortyIf the hundred million eight states, and they sold $302,000,000
Americans voted on that ques. worth of groceries. This chain is not only tion, a veritable forest of hands would be the oldest, but also by far the largest of raised. And the sunlight would be re- all. flected from a good many millions of dol- Just twenty years elapsed, after the lars' worth of diamond rings, too, for the first chain of stores was founded, before patrons of the cash-and-carry stores are another was started that embodied any by no means confined to the people who additional new idea.
additional new idea. In 1879, Frank W. have to count the pennies. Nearly three Woolworth opened the first successful billions of dollars' worth of goods were five-and-ten-cent store. His system is now bought in these stores last year. One represented in every town of 8,000 inhabidollar of every twelve that was spent over tants or over, in every state in the Union. the retail counters went into the till of a Last year's sales were $193,000,000. It chain store.
is second in volume of business. The idea of a chain of stores under one These two pioneers had all the fundamanagement is older than most people mental ideas that underlie the success of realize, though the man who originated it all their followers. But some other men died only seven years ago.
George H. have given a distinctive twist to some of Hartford was engaged in the hide and these ideas, so that the principles that leather business in New York before the made these two pioneer chains successful Civil War, and had added tea as a side have now been applied to cigars, candy, line in his shop. Just why he should add shoes, hats, clothing, dry goods, drugs, tea to his stock of leather is not clear. In bakeries, restaurants, hotels, theaters, any event, the tannin in his tea sold bet- motion pictures, radio apparatus, and barter than the tannin in his leather--possi- ber shops. bly his customers found it more palatable under the belt than in it-and he was by
THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE way of becoming a considerable tea mer- *HE first of these principles, clearly, chant when he hit on the idea that made is that the merchant shall take his him a pioneer as well as a very rich man. store to his customers. Mr. Hartford If tea was profitable in one shop, he realized that there was a certain distance argued, why should it not be twelve times beyond which people cannot or will not as profitable in twelve shops?
go to buy tea. One store at the center of That idea came to Mr. Hartford in that radius would absorb all the trade it 1859. Within a very few years he had could hope for. Every merchant in histwenty-five shops in New York and tory had encountered this same problem, Brooklyn. And when he died, in 1917, and before Mr. Hartford's day it had the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Com- been solved in one of three ways: The pany, which was George H. Hartford and
merchant had put his shop on his back his idea turned into a corporation, was and gone forth as a peddler, or he had