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Mr. James E. King of the Transcript in comparing European and American newspaper is inclined to fall in with the general opinon that the standards of the latter are far higher. Commenting on their "fragmentary incompleteness" he also charges the newspapers of the Continent for he excludes England with political subserviency. The American newspaper, he is inclined to think, "tries to set before its readers the complete facts of every important occurrence throughout the world".
In criticizing the European press Mr. King plainly has in the back of his mind the mechanical inefficiency of almost every Continental newspaper mechanical inefficiency in the gather and in the presenting of news. He has in mind also the notorious "in spired press" of the European capitals, which presents not news but governmental propaganda. So far, in his comparison. Mr. King is certainly right.
But is he willing to see the mote in his own eye? What of the American newspapers? Upton Sinclair, of course, is ready with an answer in "The Brass Check", but perhaps it is pardonable to accept his word as contributory not final judgement. Mr. King has declared that the American press is efficient and free from bias. Of the former there can be no doubt; time and again the great newspapers of the country have astonished the American family at the breakfast table by their marvelious exploits. But it is hard to believe that the latter claim is quite true. "In America" says Mr. King in support of his contention "even a newspaper as definitely Republican as the Transcript does not hesitate to criticize the Republican party." After all this is something, and it is true that the country is free from an "inspired press'; there is much to be thankful for. But there is little evidence to show that the press of the country is really unbiased. On the contrary the vast majority of the newspapers of the country seem to be trying to promulgate some idea or conception in their news columns; there is even, for example, reason to believe that respectable newspapers, far from presenting impartial news, have a habit of wiring their European correspondents just what to report and what not to report.
The American press is a great institution. Mechanically it is decades in advance of any other country. It is largely free from political subserviency. But it is not, and probably will not be for a long time to come, an unbiased, impartial, colorless means of presenting news. Perhaps, after all, that is not what is wanted. Newspapers are peculiarly sensitive to "what the public want".
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