Friday, February 12, 2010

Journalistic Quote of the Week

No, wait, this will be the last one:

"The first great end and aim of journalism is to make a sensation. Never let your paper go to press without a sensation. If you have none, make one. Seize upon the prominent events of the day, and clamor about them with a maniacal fury that shall compel attention. Vilify everything that is unpopular -- harry it, hunt it, abuse it, without rhyme or reason, so that you get a sensation out of it. Laud that which is popular -- unless you feel sure that you can make it unpopular by attacking it. Hit every man that is down -- never fail in this, because it is safe. Libel every man that can be ruined by it. Libel every prominent man who dare not soil his hands with touching you in return. But glorify all moneyed scum and give columns of worship unto the monuments they erect in honor of themselves, for moneyed men will not put up with abuse from small newspapers. If an uncalled-for onslaught upon a neighboring editor who has made you play second fiddle in journalism can take the bread from his mouth and send him in disgrace from his post, let him have it! Do not mind a little lying, a liberal garbling of his telegrams, a mean prying into his private affairs and a pitiful and treacherous exposure of his private letters. It takes a very small nature to get down to this, but I managed it, and you can -- and it makes a princely sensation."
- Mark Twain, putting words into the mouth of New York Sun editor Charles A. Dana in "Interviewing the Interviewer," pp.159-160 of Who Is Mark Twain?, and off-handedly explaining nearly the entire modern media landscape
Listening to: The Deathray Davies - Corrective Lenses
via FoxyTunes


Anonymous said...

I had no idea that Twain was so prescient. That could be a perfect description of Rupert Murdoch's guiding philosophy....

Andrew Wheeler said...

Anonymous: If you translate "newspaper" to "news network" and update some of the other dated terms, it could also serve as Roger Ailes's playbook -- and that of many, many others.

I'm more and more coming to believe that we're living in the new Gilded Age.

Post a Comment