Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: Elmira Gazette and Free Press
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Too Much and Too Little Libel Law”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Elmira, New York
Date of publication: 24 September 1901
Volume number: 77
Issue number: 191
Pagination: [4]

“Too Much and Too Little Libel Law.” Elmira Gazette and Free Press 24 Sept. 1901 v77n191: p. [4].
full text
yellow journalism; libel (laws against); the press.
Named persons
Richard Croker; Thomas Nast; William M. Tweed.
During September 1901 this newspaper identifies its volume number variously as 77 and 78.


Too Much and Too Little Libel Law

     They have no “yellow journalism” in England. The libel laws make it too precarious enterprise [sic]. Damages take off all the profits and frequent imprisonment makes it too uncomfortable to the responsible individuals.
     An interesting instance was recently displayed. A newspaper heard that certain children were being cruelly treated by the man who had adopted them. It investigated the report and found it true. It published the results of its investigation. The proprietors of the journal were promptly arrested and punished. Then the adopted parent was tried and found guilty. The story was true. The newspaper article led to the relief of the children and the punishment of their oppressor. But the proprietors paid a severe penalty for bringing about these desirable results through the publication of the facts. Not long ago a London journal insinuated that the obstructive contingent in parliament was actuated by mercenary motives. The editor and publisher were brought before the bar of the house and compelled to apologize in the most abject terms.
     Under English libel law the New York Times which opened the campaign against Tweed would have been compelled to pay heavy damages and its publishers and writers would probably have been imprisoned. Nast would have been sent to jail. The newspapers now attacking Richard Croker and the chief figures in the government of New York city [sic] would suffer heavy financial penalties and their writers and cartoonists would be behind the bars. The Philadelphia press would not dare reveal the corruption prevailing in the Quaker city.
     With truth no defense the grossest abuses may continue without the enlightenment of the public regarding them which would lead to their correction. However, this is not to be construed as defense of the license under which “yellow journalism” enjoys immunity. Yet the blame cannot be placed wholly upon individuals or the law. There would be no panderers if the taste did not exist. The “yellow” journalist points to his mountain of circulation books to prove that he merely supplies what the public demands. There is a public appetite. Otherwise there would be no “yellow” journals with circulations leading all the rest.



top of page