Oct. 13, 1908 (Monday)
INTERVIEW WITH BRITISH NEWSPAPER MAGNATE PROMPTS TIMES TO VENT: Todays' New York Times tees off on
Lord Northcliffe's analysis of how American newspapers have covered an ongoing crisis in the Balkan region. The editorial refers to an interview printed on Sunday, in which Northcliffe said,
"Your newspapers get dispatches from your correspondents and print them. In England, on a matter of this importance, we get two sets of dispatches from our correspondents -- one for publication and the other a private set for the guidance of the editors-- and before we print anything, we know we are right."
Here's what the Times says today, with a strong statement about full-disclosure:
The old journalism, like the old diplomacy, went on the principle that there is much which it is well the people should not know until what is considered by their betters a fitting time for them to know it, and not a little which they should never know. We still have some lingering notions to that effect ourselves, but they are disappearing fast, and in exact proportion to their waning their passes away the system of two sets of dispatches to which Lord Northcliffe referred. It is only occasionally, most often in wartime, that American papers recognize an obligation to suppress real news that is of moment as well as of interest to the people at large, and they find that on the whole the habit of refusing to suppress facts has good results, however much it may interfere with the efforts of diplomats to enhance their own importance by working in the dark."
The Times objects to suppression of news, adding "Half a story is always a false story, and it is apt to be resented more than an out-and-out misstatement, since the narrator of the half story assumes a superiority which subsequent events may prove him to be without."
(NOTE: The interview published on Sunday included a comment from Northcliffe that sounds applicable a hundred years later: "What is the worst feature of American newspapers? The exaggeration of the unimportant and the hiding of the important.")
CONNECTICUT MAN PAYS A HIGH PRICE FOR KISSING HIS WIFE: On a trolley car running from Bridgeport to Waterbury late in the evening on Oct. 11, passengers were SHOCKED by something Dennis Burns did. They were so upset that they had the car stopped at Naugatuck. Burns was arrested and was charged, according to today's New York Times, "under an old blue law which says a MAN MAY NOT KISS EVEN HIS WIFE in such a public and ostentatious manner." The Times reports that Burns "insisted on hugging and kissing the woman dramatically to the disgust of the passengers."
The judge evidently didn't want to deal with a charge of wife-kissing on a Sunday, so he fined Burns for disorderly conduct. The kissing cost Burns $20. (That's about $400 in 2008 dollars.)
Burns' reaction: "I love my wife dearly and have a right to kiss her, law or no law."