Publication information
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Source: City and State
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Sincerity in Journalism”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 10 October 1901
Volume number: 11
Issue number: 15
Pagination: 231

“Sincerity in Journalism.” City and State 10 Oct. 1901 v11n15: p. 231.
full text
yellow journalism; McKinley assassination (public response: criticism); the press (criticism); The Sun [New York, NY]; yellow journalism (role in the assassination).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz.


Sincerity in Journalism

     It cannot pay to be deceived. Bad as what has come to be called “yellow journalism” in these days is, unspeakably repulsive as we know it is to some and hope it is growing to be more and more to many, yet it is wholly possible that there is something worse. It is worse to object to it not for a real but for a false or insincere, a factional or party reason—because we from a special motive of the latter species do not like it, and not because it is horribly reprehensible on the ground of its sensational and recklessly irresponsible and almost wholly venal or mere money-getting character. To object to it in such a way or on unreal grounds is to do terrible damage to the objector himself and to everybody about him. For, after all, there can be nothing more ruinous in a person or in a community than insincerity or hypocrisy. Once truth is gone all is gone. There has been a great deal said about the responsibility of this class of papers for the appalling blow struck at the very life of society and at the life of the nation when its Chief Magistrate was stricken to death at Buffalo. Their criticisms, cartoons, etc., including apparently everything they have dealt in of that kind, have made them objects of torrents of resentment. The “North American,” of this city, which has come to be ranked among journals of this sort, with justice replies, so far as it is concerned, to the criticism of which it has been made the object on this point, and says:

     “Only a very extraordinary kind of a fool can be made to believe that because a murderous wretch has attempted the life of the President it becomes everybody’s patriotic duty to cease criticizing the trusts, cease discussing the problem of poverty and the dangers threatening the Republic through the rapid growth of enormous fortunes which have their roots in monopoly.”

     The New York “Sun,” we think, is not usually classed among “yellow journals.” It is well enough, however, to see how its style of criticizing men and events—on the “other side,” as it appears—is looked at, not by a representative of the sensational press at all, but by one of the staidest, most conservative papers in the United States. The New York “Staats-Zeitung,” of September 10th, as quoted by the “Literary Digest,” says:

     “If the question must be discussed what causes and elements are working into the hands of anarchism, we do not hesitate a moment to denounce the New York ‘Sun’ and its followers as the most dangerous of these elements. Their nauseating cynicism; their derision of all nobler sentiments; their support of all most corrupted elements, now on this side and now on the other; their continuous performance in villifying [sic] workingmen on the one hand and their unlimited advocacy of capitalism, based on the principle of ‘might is right,’ on the other—these are methods of warfare which, allied to calumny, distortion of the truth, aye, even barefaced untruthfulness, breed hatred among the classes, act as irritants, conjure up blind fury against their own pompous insolence. We are convinced that a single one of these contemptible articles on the problems of labor, as they are to be found frequently in the ‘Sun,’ does more mischief than all the stuff, thus sharply criticized by the ‘Sun,’ that other papers are emitting for the benefit of anarchy.”

     One thing is clearly indicated in all this which those who have eyes to see with should not lose sight of. There are views of existing conditions in this land, of what is going on in it, that are in profoundest antagonism—views in respect to matters of the vitalest moment. Any attempt to disguise this, to repress it, or make it seem as though it were not, will not be found profitable. It will be found precisely the opposite. Whether the questions are dealt with by sensation-mongers, or by those whose conception of discretion is that it has neither eyes, ears, nor tongue, yet they are questions. We all know what such questions demand, and will have, no matter what happens or who opposes. It can hardly be worth while [sic], then, to throw blame upon the newspapers of whatever kind, or upon what they say, whether on this side or on that, for so dreadful an event as the assassination of the President. Some one in this may be putting us upon a false scent. We may loathe the sensational press with all the loathing which an abhorrence of insincerity is sure to beget in a just mind, but by the same token it is well to be true to truth and not be fooled. Can any one doubt there is force in the position of the New York “Times” when it says:

     “It is profoundly unscientific to seek to establish a causal relation between yellow journalism and the beliefs and crime of Czolgosz. The anarchists are creatures apart from the mass of humanity. Outside the direct teachings of their own sect and the promptings of their own insane delusions, there is not only no evidence, but a strong improbability, that they are influenced by any utterances or precepts whatsoever.”



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