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For some time close observers have remarked the absence from the small town press of that virile political flavor which formerly distinguished it. Rural newspaper have come to rely more and more upon advertising for their support. And since advertisers are particularly capricious in bestowing their patronage, experience has taught the rural editor to curb his native vigor. The doctrine preached by the late Mr. Munsey has triumphed.
But it has remained for Will Rose. editor of the Cambridge Springs "Enterprise News" to exalt this state of affairs into even higher realms. In the current issue of "Scribner's he recounts the benefits which have accrued to himself and other publishers who have divorced partisanship from their columns. Advertising is booming; circulation has increased. Irate subscribers are no longer constrained to toss his paper across the room because it harrows their political sensibilities. The new policy aims to offend no one--and there is peace.
Yet, most important of all, Mr. Rose would have it understood that this recently achieved neutrality is not only more profitable to the publishers, but fairer to the public. Since the supporting of definite political policies is part of the function of a conscientious press, a leaning towards either one party or the other is, however, a necessity. Partisanship which confines itself to the editorial page is as defensible as the party system itself. The professedly non-partisan journals have chosen to vacillate rather than offend their advertisers.
And with the growing tendency to use vapid syndicated material, their news columns have also degenerated in to stagnancy. In truth there can be no doubt that the decline of their press is largely responsible for the present apathy of the rural electorate.
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