Wednesday, July 10, 2013

John Swinton: On U.S. Press and Role of U.S. Newspaper Editors

In a 1901 speech to a banquet of New York City newspaper editors, a late 19th-century U.S. newspaper editor and journalist named John Swinton characterized the U.S. press and the role of U.S. newspaper editors in the following way:

"There is no such thing in America as an independent press.

"You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write his honest opinions, and if you did you know beforehand that it would never appear in print.

"I am paid $150,000 a week [in late 19th and early 20th-century money] for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with--others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things--and any of you who would be so foolish as to write his honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job.

"The business of the New York journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his race and his country for his daily bread.

"You know this and I know it, and what folly is this to be toasting an `Independent Press.'

"We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping-jacks; they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."


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