Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Role of the Press in a Free Society

I've quoted this line from the legendary journalist H.L. Mencken, and it's good to see an expanded version of this quote again elsewhere:

I believed then, as I believe now, that it is the prime function of a really first-rate newspaper to serve as a sort of permanent opposition in politics, and I tried to show that the Sun, because of its geographical situation, had a superb opportunity to discharge that function effectively. Baltimore was but forty miles from Washington — and the Washington papers were all third-rate, and seemed doomed to remain so forever, for the overwhelming majority of their readers were petty Federal jobholders, which is to say, half-wits. In consequence of their badness all Washington officials in the higher brackets had to read out-of-town papers, and not a few of them, including Wilson, read the Sun, for that was in the days before airships, and the Sun could get to Washington with news nearly five hours earlier than the news in the New York morning papers…The rudiments of the New Deal were already visible in those days, and I did not neglect to sneer at the “utopian ideas, economical, political, and ethical” that were going about…

-- Thirty-five Years of Newspaper Work: A Memoir by H. L. Mencken (link)

Hat tip the Junior Ganymede blog, whoever that is, and also Ed Driscoll.

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