Prove Your Allegations
Much of the criticism that has found
vent the last three or four weeks against newspapers known as “yellow
journals” has been caused by the latter’s failure, when making serious
allegations involving public men, to prove them to the satisfaction
of the public.
Take the esteemed New York Journal,
for instance, which is generally referred to as being the leader
of the “yellow” press. The Journal has done some good since it passed
into the hands of William R. Hearst, its energetic, enthusiastic
proprietor but it has also done some harm. It has very often criticised
men high in the councils of the Republican party without furnishing
any proof of the correctness of its charges.
But the Journal has not been alone
in this respect. Republican papers not claiming to the [sic] “yellow”
are guilty of the same “reprehensible conduct” as our friend Admiral
Sampson would say. Where the Journal has been fierce in its criticism
of the McKinley administration Republican papers have been equally
as radical in opposing Democratic politics and leaders, especially
W. J. Bryan.
Readers of newspapers should be like
juries in our courts. No statements should be accepted unless accompanied
by facts and corroborated. If a man occupying a public position
is a thief the duty of the newspaper is not merely to call him one
but to show him up by furnishing the evidence. The great trouble
with a considerable portion of the press is that it makes its allegations
without being in possession of direct proof implicating those whom
If all the newspapers of the country
would sink the personal prejudices of their editors and be content
with a mere presentation of facts there would be fewer public scoundrels
and the people would have greater respect for the journalistic profession.
If a newspaper of any influence is once proven wrong in that its
charges remain unsubstantiated or are found to be wholly false and
malicious then for long thereafter its power for good in the particular
community where it exists will be nullified and even when it does
say something that is true and should command respectful consideration
it is scorned at.